The Harvard Art Museums announces a transformative donation of 21 works of 18th-century American silver from the collection of Daniel A. Pollack and Susan F. Pollack. The gift includes a range of finely crafted vessels and tableware for home use including cups, bowls, spoons, mugs and teapots made by renowned silversmiths in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Trenton . There is also a superb caudle cup, an example of ecclesiastical silver made by Edward Winslow and said to have been used during communion at First Congregational Church in Milford, CT. The Pollacks’ donation bolsters the museums’ remarkable collections of 17th- to 20th-century silverware and comes at a time when curators and postdoctoral fellows are struggling to reinvent the balance between paintings, sculptures and design objects on display. in the galleries.
“The history of money is in many ways a history of the Americas. Like other commodities such as coffee, mahogany, sugar and tea, silver helps us unite the known world of the 16th century with our own time,” said Horace D. Ballard, Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. Associate Curator of American Art at the Harvard Art Museums. “The generosity of the Pollacks enables us to engage more fully with the vast and complex history of European privilege and Afro-Indigenous labor in the Americas occupied by Spain and British North America during the era of colonization. . It is estimated that 50-80% of the world’s silver from the 16th to the early 19th century came from the infamous silver mines of Potosi in the Viceroyalty of Peru. Silver ore was shipped to China from the main American Pacific port in Peru; marketed in Europe with porcelain; melted into coin, plate or brick; then shipped back to the Americas through the east coast ports of the Atlantic seaboard, to be cast, designed, and sold to merchants, religious institutions, and wealthy families. Works by American silversmiths of the 18th and 19th centuries are notable for their innovative silhouettes, twists, and naturalistic allusions to animals and plants. The Pollack gift and its upcoming installations in our galleries will highlight this global orientation around luxury, leading us to ask new questions about hemispheric identity and aesthetic heritage.
Gift highlights include, Boston-based silversmiths, a pair of stew (portion) spoons from 1786 by Paul Revere, Jr., and a c. Rococo style from 1765 cream jug and c.1775 bowl (small bowl) with keyhole handle by Benjamin Burt; a soup ladle with a shell-shaped bowl of c. 1772 and one server (small tray) of c. 1765 by pioneering Jewish silversmith and philanthropist Myer Myers of New York; and apple-shaped tea-pot Dec. 1745 by Joseph Richardson, Sr., for prominent Quakers Hannah and William Logan, as well as a coffee maker by Richardson’s sons, Joseph Jr. and Nathaniel, both trained with their father in Philadelphia. These are the first works by the Richardsons to enter museum collections. The oldest object of the donation is this one caudler cup of 1707 by Edward Winslow of Boston.
Over the next six months, some objects from the Pollack donation will be installed in the level 2 galleries of the museums. By mid-March, the Winslow Stockpot Cup and Myers Soup Ladle, among other items, will be installed in the silver cabinet. From mid-May, the showcase of design objects in museums Atlantic World Gallery will showcase a rare two-handled silver punch filter designed in the 1760s by Daniel Parker of Boston. By the end of July, the Pollack Arcade gallery on the second floor will receive a crate of 14 items from the donation. The case’s interpretive labels will address Daniel Pollack’s longstanding commitment to American art at the Harvard Art Museums while highlighting the global threads of racialized labor and colonial trade at the heart of American colonization. and our national future.
This cash donation follows the death of Daniel Pollack in October 2019 and builds on a number of other significant donations and the generous support of the Pollacks over the past 17 years. A strong supporter of museums, Daniel has served on the Director’s Advisory Council and chaired the American Art Curatorial Committee. The couple’s commitment also includes contributions to the renovation and expansion of the Harvard Art Museums (which reopened in fall 2014) as well as the appointment of four second-floor arcade galleries overlooking the courtyard. of Calderwood.
“We are thrilled to be able to honor Dan’s legacy; I am grateful to Susan for her kind partnership and support,” said Marthe TedeschiElizabeth and John Moors Cabot, director of the Harvard Art Museums.
Previous art donations include a 2016 donation of three ecclesiastical silver coins: a goblet (circa 1670) and two tankards (1690; 1759) used by churches in Salem, MA, for over 300 years. Other giveaways have included prized paintings by American artists: Still life with pewter candlestick and clarinet (1886) by William Michael Harnett; and trick the eye–style Hanging woodcock (1897) by George Cope and Theodore Roosevelt cabin door (1905) by Richard LaBarre Goodwin, the first works by either artist to enter museum collections. Through the creation of the Daniel A. Pollack, Class of 1960, American Art Acquisition Fund, the couple supported the purchase of 19 paintings, including the highly detailed Still life with watermelon (1822) by Sarah Miriam Peale, one of the first professional female artists in the United States; the kaleidoscopic Ventriloquist (1952) by Jacob Lawrence, a Harlem Renaissance prodigy; and a stunning Rhode Island coastline scene by Canadian-born African-American painter Edward Mitchell Bannister – the first acquisition for museums by new American art curator Horace Ballard.
Daniel A. Pollack (Harvard College AB ’60, University of Oxford MA ’62, Harvard Law School LL.B. ’65) was a prominent attorney who founded and ran the law firm Pollack & Kaminsky in New York for over 40 years old. years, before joining the New York office of McCarter & English in 2009. Susan F. Pollack (Harvard Radcliffe Class of 1964, Harvard Law School ’67) served as General Counsel for the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs and lead attorney. at Citibank; she has worked with the law firms Barrett, Smith, Schapiro & Simon as well as Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle.