Hong Kong – Liang Yi Museum is proud to present Masterpieces of British Silver: Highlights from the Victoria and Albert Museum, featuring a total of 46 historical and contemporary silver pieces from the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, and most of them are unveiled for the first time in Asia. The exhibition explores the lustrous material of silver, which has had special social and historical significance throughout the centuries. Boldly combining ancient practices with modern technological developments, these works reflect trends in taste and design across continents. Masterpieces of British Silver is presented in partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London, and will run from 21st March for six months until August 2016.
The exhibition begins with seven examples of historical silver from the renowned Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection, the foremost collection of its kind and currently under the stewardship of the V&A. Dating from the fifteenth to the early nineteenth century, these objects provide a visual framework to the movements, designs and techniques that would later inform modern and contemporary silver. Significant pieces from the Gilbert Collection will be displayed, including; christening cups made in the 1730s by Edward Feline; an intricate silver coffee pot made by the celebrated Paul de Lamerie; and a pair of porcelain coffee pots from the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (c. 1736) with silver mounts made by silversmith James Aldridge.
Masterpieces of British Silver continues with 39 dramatic sculptural pieces from the V&A’s own permanent collection, created by notable contemporary silversmiths and showcased alongside original designs and sketches. Ranging from the entirely abstract to the startlingly representative, conceptual and functional pieces by modern day masters of silver such as David Clarke, Michael Rowe, Gerald Benney and Michael Lloyd, demonstrate the diverse influences from which contemporary silverwork in Britain draws inspiration – from the minimal simplicity of Scandinavian design to the flowery ostentation of 18th century Rococo.
The show further explores the importance of the commissioning process to the practice of silver working, as well as the contributions of foreign silversmiths practicing in Britain. Many of the masterpieces took inspiration from diverse sources and were made by people of varying backgrounds. Asian silversmiths including Kyosun Jung and Ja-Kyung Shin, both from South Korea; Hiroshi Suzuki from Japan; and Vladmir Bohm from Croatia, demonstrate how international craftsmen have made Britain their home and have contributed to the development of the craft.
Alongside Masterpieces of British Silver, Liang Yi Museum’s critically received exhibition, A History of Evening Bags will be extended due to its positive reception. Providing an intimate and personal perspective to complement the show-stopping silver exhibits, the works in this exhibition display techniques that parallel those used on silver, but on a smaller scale. With a significant assemblage of haute vanities commissioned from the houses of Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Boucheron among others, the two exhibitions provide a rare opportunity to contextualise these prized objects, which embody the style and the social structures of different periods.
“The beauty and brilliance of silver have made it an object of admiration throughout history. From the opulence and exceptional ornamentation of the Gilbert Collection, to the unparalleled originality and daring simplicity of modern pieces, there is an inherent design logic that is independent of their period. Their beauty emerges through exceptional craftsmanship,” said Lynn Fung, Director of Liang Yi Museum.
“As the second anniversary of Liang Yi Museum approaches,” Fung continues, “we cannot think of a better exhibition to mark the occasion. By showcasing 250 pieces of European vanities derived from the Museum’s permanent collection in tandem with the V&A’s silver selection, the two shows concurrently explore the continuation of virtuoso artistry in silver and metalwork and celebrates the virtues we uphold at the Museum: design, craftsmanship and heritage.”