Myer Myers: Colonial New Yorker, Silversmith, Jew

Date

2011

Authors

Mauze, Amelie M.

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Abstract

This thesis examines Myer Myers as the first formally trained Jewish Silversmith in Great Britain. It looks at the colonial New York world in which he lived, the religious silver he created for both Christian and Jewish congregations and consider what effect, if any, his cultural and religious heritage had on his career and on the objects he created. It explores his biography and looks at his secular works to answer the questions: Is the ornament on the religious items Myers created different from his secular items? Should Myers be remembered for the secular and sacred items he created or for the cultural and religious obstacles that he overcame?

With the completion of this work it is determined that Myers religious objects are both in keeping with tradition and with the changing styles of the time. His use of similar techniques and ornament on both secular and sacred objects forces the conclusion that the embellishment found on his religious items is simply decorative, even though scholars have attempted to prove a different conclusion.

It is also determined that Myers should be remembered for both his innovative place in history, as the first formally trained Jewish silversmith who broke many of the barriers that previously restricted Jews from the trade, as well as for his body of work. It is determined that while he is noteworthy for being the first Jew, the product he produced in both quantity and quality rivals any of his contemporaries and his legacy can stand alone, without the qualifier of "Jew.".

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Department

Art and Art History