Worcester Art Museum

Worcester, MA




Paul Revere: Artisan and Patriot


Celebrate Patriot's Day this spring by viewing one of the world's largest collections of silver objects crafted by Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere (1734 - 1818), at the Worcester Art Museum's year-long exhibition, Paul Revere: Artisan and Patriot, which opens Monday, April 17, 2000. It's an opportunity to view exceptional works of silver, engravings, and early American furniture from the Worcester Art Museum's newly expanded collection, as well as see Revere prints from both the Museum's and the American Antiquarian Society's collections. The exhibition will also include John Singleton Copley 's famous portrait of Revere, in which the artisan holds a teapot that he has crafted. That portrait will be on view for the first two months of the exhibition.

The Museum's 115-piece silver collection includes a recent gift of 56 pieces of Paul Revere silver from The Paul Revere Life Insurance Company, a subsidiary of UnumProvident Corporation. Composed of many of Revere's later silver works, this gift greatly strengthens the Museum's excellent examples of his earlier style. In addition, the gift includes prints made by Revere, as well as a selection of early American furniture. In appreciation of this gift and in tribute to one of America's most talented artists, the Museum will hold special Patriot's Day viewing hours on Monday, April 17, from 1 p.m.- 5 p.m., and will keep the exhibition on display until April 22, 2001. (Left: Teapot with Stand, Gift of the Paul Revere Life Insurance Company Subsidiary of UnumProvident Corporation, Photograph © Worcester Art Museum)

Events on opening day include studio activities as well as an impersonator who will be re-enacting Paul Revere as an artist and patriot. All events are free with Museum admission.

"The exhibition will be in our American Decorative Arts Gallery, and we hope to include as much of our newly expanded collection as possible," said David R. Brigham, curator of American Art. "We are extremely grateful to UnumProvident for donating its prized collection to the Worcester Art Museum, which already possessed world-renowned holdings of Revere works. It is our pleasure to enable the public to enjoy and study these works, particularly the recent gifts which were largely inaccessible to the public for nearly 40 years."

Brigham said the goal of the exhibition is to identify the diversity of form in Revere's work and trace his artistic development, which included Queen Anne, Rococo, and Neoclassic styles. Noting that the exhibition will contain prints, silver and furniture sections, Brigham said the show features Revere prints from both the American Antiquarian Society and Worcester Art Museum collections. Some of the more well known prints are View of Boston, 1774, View of the Year 1765, British Troops Landing in Boston, and Boston Massacre.

The American Antiquarian Society in Worcester has America's leading collection of Revere prints plus a library of books, manuscripts, and periodicals about American history and culture. "Scholars around the world will now be able to thoroughly study Paul Revere's art and life by visiting the city of Worcester," Brigham said.

When announcing the gift to the Worcester Art Museum, UnumProvident Chairman, President, and CEO, J. Harold Chandler, said: "UnumProvident wanted to allow scholars and the general public greater access to these works, which had been seen by invitation only for nearly four decades. Because the Worcester Art Museum's facilities for the display, study, and conservation of works of art are clearly the best in Central Massachusetts, it is the premier place to feature these magnificent works that represent the early years of American history."

UnumProvident also donated $30,000 to the Worcester Art Museum to build a new elevator that will replace one that was built more than a century ago. Due to be operational when the exhibition opens on Patriot's Day, this elevator will ensure that all visitors, including those with physical disabilities, have easy access to the American Art collection and other items in the Museum's second and third floor galleries.

American decorative arts have been an important component of the Worcester Art Museum's collection since the 1905 bequest of the Museum's founder, Stephen Salisbury III, which added rare and important examples of colonial silver by distinguished artists such as Edward Winslow (1669-1753), John Edwards (1671-1746), William Swan (1715-1774), and Paul Revere (1734-1818).

Already famous for its Revere silver, the Worcester Art Museum's collection includes a very early Revere work, (a creampot based on designs used by his father and teacher), and the last firmly dated piece that Revere ever made (a pitcher dated 1806). The Museum is also the home of Revere's largest commission, "The Paine Service," which he made for Lois Orne, the bride of Dr. William Paine, in 1773. Of the original 45 pieces that Revere created for Paine, the 30 works known to have survived are now at the Worcester Art Museum. In addition, the Museum owns silver works created by Paul Revere's father, who changed his name from Apollos Rivoire to Paul Revere (1702-1754). The elder Revere journeyed from France to Boston in 1715 and became a silversmith in this country.

The two engravings UnumProvident gave to the Worcester Art Museum have joined the Museum's distinguished collection of 17 Revere prints, which the Museum acquired in 1909 from the famous Charles E. Goodspeed collection in Boston. One of the UnumProvident prints, a fine impression of Revere's best-known engraving, depicts the famous "Boston Massacre."

In addition to the Revere works, UnumProvident donated four pieces of early American furniture to the Museum's decorative arts collection, which features American furniture from Colonial times up to the present. The furniture from UnumProvident are a cherry Chippendale secretary desk, a Queen Anne high chest with corkscrew finials, a Federal sideboard with serpentine front, and an Aaron Willard tall case clock. Revere made labels for the Willard Clock Company, and this clock has such a label.

An American Revolutionary War hero, Paul Revere lived from 1734 to 1818. In addition to being a silversmith, he was an engraver, dentist, and proprietor of a hardware shop. Silversmithing in Colonial times was an important profession and was often a means of rising to an influential position in early American society. Most silversmiths living in New England during that time were active in the affairs of their communities, and many served as constables, justices, and officers in the militia. In keeping with their high social standing, silversmiths sat for their portraits more often than any other craftsmen did. Often, the artist was as prominent as John Singleton Copley, who painted the famous Revere portrait that will be on view for the first two months of the Worcester Art Museum's exhibition.

This exhibition is sponsored by The Paul Revere Life Insurance Company, a subsidiary of UnumProvident Corporation. Media support is provided by the Telegram & Gazette.

RL readers may also enjoy:

Paul Revere, Jr. (1734-1818) by Beth Carver Wees, Department of American Decorative Arts, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Read more about the Worcester Art Museum in Resource Library Magazine

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For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

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rev. 1/15/11

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