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Tribute To Paul Revere Silver
( Article orginally published September 1942 by Hobbies )
AMONG silver lovers everywhere the memory and works of Paul Revere, patriot and craftsman, are highly revered. Thus an exhibition such as that recently brought together by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is always appropriate.
The Museum exhibition coincides with the publication of Esther Forbes' book, "Paul Revere and the World He Lived In" (Houghton Mifflin). Various departments in the Museum contributed prints, paintings, textiles, and curios, in addition to silver, to help the museum visitor visualize as much as possible the works and life of this great American.
Dominating the entrance corridor is Copley's famous portrait of Revere as a young man. In this strong and informal portrait the silversmith holds a silver teapot of his own making, fully shaped but not ornamented, while on the table beside him lie some of the tools of his craft. Immediately below the painting, Mr. Hipkiss has grouped a chest and pair of chairs contemporaneous with it, and on the chest he has placed a teapot similar in shape but embellished with repousse work such as Revere might have added with the tools shown.
Other paintings by Copley represent Revere's friends and contemporaries: James Otis, Samuel and John Adams, John Hancock, and his close friend, Joseph Warren, among others. It was Warren who started Revere off on his famous ride; later it was Revere's grim duty to identify his friend's body, months after he had fallen at Bunker Hill, by two artificial teeth which he had made for him. Portraits by Copley lent especially for the exhibition are that of Lucretia Chandler, lent by H. Daland Chandler, and Henry Pelham, lent by Charles Pelham Curtis.
Portraits by Stuart include those of Revere and his wife in their latter years; the rotund Henry Knox, famed for his almost superhuman feat of bringing the heavy cannons captured from the British at Ticonderoga to Dorchester - cannons that forced the evacuation of Boston; and Dr. Samuel Danforth, handsome and fearless Tory who remained in America and lived to see old enmities so far forgotten that he was the physician called to Revere's deathbed in 1818. This last painting was lent to the exhibition by the Boston Medical Library. Other pictures lent for the occasion are portraits of Elias Hasket Derby by Frothingham, lent by the Peabody Museum, Salem, and of Mary Revere, daughter of Revere and his first wife, Sarah Orne, by William Hudson, lent by S. Randall Lincoln of Hingham.
Three engravings by Revere are included in the group of rare prints lent by Valentine Hollingsworth: "Boston, Ships Landing Troups, 1768," "A View of the Town of Boston," and "Harvard College." Prints and books have also been lent by Henry Lee Shattuck, Hermann F. Clarke, and E. H. Revere. Mrs. Walter Knight has lent a crayon portrait of Revere by Charles B. J. F. de St. Memin, made in Philadelphia in 1800. This profile was made by means of a machine called a "physiognotrace," which reproduced the human profile exactly on a reduced scale. The portrait was then finished with crayons. Two prints of the well-known "Boston Massacre" by Revere are also shown, one handcolored by Christian Remich.
A selection of some forty pieces of domestic plate by Revere, choice pieces from the hundreds in the Museum's collection known as the most comprehensive in existence, are shown together with a number of the finest examples of his church silver on deposit at the Museum. There is the Hartt tea set, inscribed to Edmund Hartt, constructor of the frigate "Boston." (The "Constitution" for which Revere furnished the copper was also built in Hartt's shipyards.) Also shown is the Chandler servicetray, sugar bowl, and the creamer with its romantic history. Taken from a ship on which the owners were fleeing to Nova Scotia at the time of the Revolution by a privateer, this creamer was brought back to Boston and sold at auction. For 100 years it passed down through the family of the purchaser until discovered by Mrs. Pauline Revere Thayer, great-granddaughter of Paul Revere, and recognized by her as matching the sugar bowl already in her possession. It is now part of the important collection of Revere silver bequeathed to the Museum by Mrs. Thayer. Of exceptional interest in connection with the Revere silver are the ledgers made out in his own hand which have been lent for the exhibition by the Revere family through the courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.