I give lectures in the United Kingdom and abroad on a growing repertoire of topics in the field of silver studies. All my lectures are available with PowerPoint images. Since 2001 I have given silver lectures on behalf of NADFAS (National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies).
Here are some of my current subjects:
Rivals in Magnificence: Goldsmiths’ Work at the Courts of Henry VIII and Francis I
Almost exact contemporaries, Henry VIII and Francis I were two of the most extravagant monarchs Europe has ever seen. This lecture looks at some of the brilliant goldsmiths’ work commissioned by them, at the court culture of which it was a part and at the artists, such as Holbein and Cellini, who worked for them.
Renaissance Silver from the Schroder Collection
My family were prosperous bankers and passionate collectors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The collection they formed remains together and is exceptionally important. This lecture came about through an exhibition at the Wallace Collection in 2007 and talks as much about the two generations of collectors as the silver.
Fakes and Forgeries in Silver
The product of a symposium organized by the Goldsmiths’ Company, this is an enduringly popular subject, discussing some of the ways in which people have been deceived and some of the things to look for.
Silver at the Ashmolean Museum
My three-volume catalogue of this outstanding collection was published in 2009. The lecture looks at some of the marvels of the collection and also at the individual donors, four of whom were collectively responsible for the overwhelming bulk of the collection.
The Gilbert Collection
This extraordinary collection of gold, silver and Italian mosaics was gathered together over forty years by one man. Formerly at Somerset House, it is now displayed in a magnificent group of galleries at the V&A. Lectures on specific aspects of the collection, such as gold boxes or treasury objects can also be offered.
Art and Food
A look at changing dining customs since the Middle Ages and some of the wonderful silver, glass and ceramics that have been made for the dining-table. Lectures on several different aspects of this subject can also be offered.
William Beckford, Patron of Silversmiths
William Beckford of Fonthill Abbey was one of the greatest art collectors of all time. He was also an obsessive collector of new silver, often made to his own designs and of astonishingly high quality. The lecture shows that his silver is as much a window into his personality as Fonthill Abbey itself. But the silver survives; the abbey does not.
Church Silver in England: 500 Years of Change
This lecture emerged out of several different exhibitions, including ‘Sacred Silver and Stained Glass’, the permanent display of church silver at the V&A. It draws on the astonishing holdings of parish churches across the country and shows that church silver is not only beautiful and impressive but also a telling mirror of the history of the church and society.
The Schatzkammer (or ‘treasure room’) developed in the sixteenth century and the greatest examples still survive in Munich, Dresden and Vienna. The precious and beautiful objects of gold, silver and exotic materials that fill them are intensely cerebral and designed to tell a specific story or to set out an intellectual programme.
Royal Dukes: the Silver Collections of the Sons of George III
The sons of George III – the Prince Regent and his brothers – formed spectacular collections of silver. Mostly sold after the collectors died, we can reconstruct them from the auction catalogues compiled at the time. These collections provide a fascinating window into the very different characters of the royal dukes.