Between Art and Asset: Silver Vessels from Antiquity to Today


Saturday, November 3, 2018, 10:00am to 4:00pm


Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy Street

Silver vessels have been prized possessions in many cultures, both ancient and modern. Some of the most elaborate vessels in the Animal-Shaped Vessels from the Ancient World: Feasting with Gods, Heroes, and Kings exhibition are fashioned from silver. What makes this material attractive for artists, and what makes drinking from silver vessels pleasant to the palate? Which intangible qualities have promoted the material’s use? How has appreciation of the vessels been influenced by the fact that silver often served as bullion and coins—and hence could be “cashed in”? This symposium will bring together art historians, a conservator, a numismatist, and a silversmith to explore these and related questions, including the function and uses of precious metal vessels, the role of craftsmanship, the symbolic qualities of silver, and silver’s relationship to other luxury materials. The presentations will focus on the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, the Byzantine world, China, and the Americas.

Angela Chang, Conservator of Objects and Sculpture, Head of the Objects Lab, and Assistant Director of the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies at the Harvard Art Museums

Henry Colburn, Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow in Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Eurydice Georganteli, Lecturer on History of Art and Architecture and Medieval Studies in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University

Kenneth Lapatin, Curator of Antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum

Ethan Lasser, Theodore Stebbins Jr. Curator of American Art and Head of the Division of European and American Art at the Harvard Art Museums

François Louis, Associate Professor and Director of Doctoral Studies at the Bard Graduate Center

Joanne Pillsbury, Andrall E. Pearson Curator of Ancient American Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Adam Whitney, Silversmith

Read the symposium program here.

The symposium will take place in Menschel Hall, Lower Level. Please enter the museums via the entrance on Broadway. Doors will open at 9:30am.
Free admission, but seating is limited.

Complimentary parking available in the Broadway Garage, 7 Felton Street, Cambridge.