Cover image for Myer Myers : Jewish silversmith in colonial New York
Myer Myers : Jewish silversmith in colonial New York
Barquist, David L.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven ; London : Yale University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xv, 304 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 30 cm
General Note:
Exhibtion dates, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Sept. 14-Dec. 30, 2001; Sirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Feb. 20-May 26, 2002; Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Delaware, June 20-Sept. 13, 2002.

Published in association with Yale University Art Gallery.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NK7198.M9 A4 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



Myer Myers, a Jewish silversmith in colonial America, created outstanding works for leading members of the New York elite, and the objects made in his workshop have long been regarded as among the most important American statements of the Rococo style. These works are also valuable for the information they provide about craftsmanship, patronage, colonial Judaism, and changing cultural values in pre- and post-Revolutionary America.

This stunning catalogue presents works from Myers's workshop in conjunction with essays by eminent authorities on his life and times, all of which shed light on significant themes and events in American culture and history. Myers's lifelong membership in the New York Jewish community, for example, reveals much about the role of religious minorities and social toleration in eighteenth-century America, and the artifacts he created for his family and religious community provide a vivid picture of colonial Jewish life. At the same time, Myers's career as a silversmith offers insights into the complexities of preindustrial craftsmanship in America, showing that silversmiths were less autonomous than has previously been assumed. Catalogue entries provide a chronological survey of Myers's career, highlighting his finest work, situating it within his routine shop production, and focusing on key objects to evoke the interplay of influences that shaped individual works of American art.

Author Notes

David L. Barquist is associate curator of American decorative arts at the Yale University Art Gallery. Jon Butler is William Robertson Coe Professor of American History and professor of religious studies and history at Yale University. Jonathan D. Sarna is Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History and professor of Judaic studies at Brandeis University.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

An artisan's life work is celebrated in Myer Myers: Jewish Silversmith in Colonial New York by David L. Barquist, an associate curator at the Yale University Art Gallery. During the second half of the 18th century, Myers produced many objects for New York's Jewish community and the city's elite. Jon Butler contributes an essay on ethnosocial relations in the new city, and Jonathan D. Sarna zeroes in on the Sephardim of early New York, describing how the city attracted many "Crypto-Jews, forced converts who were outwardly Christian but inwardly Jewish." This admirable book, including nearly 200 photographs of rich rococo silverwork of the first order, is the catalogue to a Yale exhibition curated by Barquist, and delivers a fascinating scholarly look at a previously obscure aspect of pre-revolutionary America. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The catalog of an exhibition at Yale University (where Barquist is associate curator of American decorative arts at the art gallery), as well as Skirball in Los Angeles and Winterthur in Delaware, this is both a well-researched contribution on the work and life of the Jewish silversmith Myer Myers and an examination of the society in which he lived. Each of the silver pieces presented is fully described in terms of provenance and history, and each is beautifully photographed not an easy accomplishment with silver, whose detail is difficult to capture. In addition to the catalog, the book presents paintings of the leading figures of colonial New York in Myers's day; documents about colonial Jewry; a section, with photographs and explanation, of the marks Myers used to stamp his work; and a long essay on Myers's life. Of interest to historians and art historians, this book boasts a clear and concise style that will make it appealing to the general public as well. Recommended for public as well as academic libraries and especially for collections dedicated to Judaica. Martin Chasin, Adult Inst., Bridgeport, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Myers (1723-95) was a Jewish silversmith active in New York and, for a time during the Revolutionary Wars, in Norwalk and Stratford, Connecticut. Some 380 objects identified as products of his firm include a few religious ornaments made for Jewish communities, but most were made for a large clientele of wealthy and socially prominent New Yorkers, ranking Myers among the most prolific silversmiths in Colonial America. This handsomely designed and printed publication accompanies an exhibition (2001-02) in New Haven, Los Angeles, and Winterthur (DE). It is the result of research by Barquist (American Decorative Arts, Yale University Art Gallery) in connection with his recently completed doctoral dissertation. The book, bound to remain the standard reference work on Myers for a long time, includes introductory essays by Jon Butler on 18th-century New York and Jonathan Sarna on Judaism in Colonial America. Myers's biography, his oeuvre, and the patronage of his art are examined in detail. The heart of the book is a descriptive catalog of objects produced by Myers (Nos. 1-104), related works from London and New York (105-123), portraits and other records (124-149), and two appendixes with documentary and technical data. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals. W. Cahn Yale University