A new pair of cases has been commissioned to enhance the display of 18th century silver made by the Courtauld family of silversmiths, which is on long-term loan from AkzoNobel to The Courtauld Gallery
. On display in Room 4 from 18 July 2014, the Courtauld silver collection comprises pieces designed and made by three generations of the Huguenot Courtauld family who came to London following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. They were the ancestors of Samuel Courtauld, one of the founders of The Courtauld Institute of Art. The collection was built up from 1950 onwards by the firm of which Samuel Courtauld was Chairman, Courtaulds Ltd, now part of AkzoNobel. The Courtauld Gallery appreciates the generosity of AkzoNobel which has funded these new cases. Dr Alexandra Gerstein, Curator of Sculpture and Decorative Arts, will discuss highlights of the collection in a lunchtime talk at 13.15 pm on 21 July 2014.
The cases were designed by Calum Storrie in order that a greater number of pieces may be on public view and the display easily changed. Manufactured by MER Services, with bespoke LED lighting by David Robertson of DHS lighting, the rectangular cases are 2m long and contain various small glass tables which enable dynamic groupings of objects. The new display will be positioned in the centre of the 18th century gallery, Room 4, making the Courtauld silver more central to the visitor experience.
Samuel Courtauld, who founded The Courtauld Institute of Art in 1932 and formed the magnificent collection of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, was Chairman of the textile company, Courtaulds Ltd, from 1921 to 1946. Courtaulds Ltd began as manufacturers of silk and crepe mourning cloth and went on to become a leading company specialising in chemical fibres, known as Courtaulds plc. In 1998 AkzoNobel acquired Courtaulds UK , a chemical company specialising in industrial coatings and in man-made fibres.
The Courtauld silver collection, which ranges in date from 1710 to 1779, comprises pieces produced by the descendants of Augustin Courtauld. The Courtaulds were successful and prolific silversmiths and prominent members of the Huguenot community which contributed so notably to the arts and crafts, commercial enterprise and public life in England in the 18th century. At the end of that period the family turned to silk-weaving, another typical Huguenot industry, and from this grew the famous textile company.
One of the highlights of the collection is Augustins covered cup of 1723-4, with its armorials of Francis, 2nd Earl Godolphin, whose wife had just become Duchess of Marlborough. This fine cup was presented to the company in 1947 by Samuel Augustin Courtauld, the Chairmans cousin and a Director of the company for some 50 years. The first item to be purchased, in 1950, was Augustins large circular salver of 1728-9. Another notable object is Louisa and Samuel the Youngers silver-gilt cup of 1778-9, made for the Lord Chancellor of Ireland which once belonged to Sir Stephen Courtauld, Samuel Courtaulds youngest brother.
When The Courtauld Gallery moved to Somerset House in 1990, Courtaulds plc decided to place its silver collection on long-term loan there. In 1998 Courtaulds plc became part of the international company AkzoNobel. With great generosity AkzoNobel has extended the loan to the Gallery indefinitely. The Courtauld Gallery is indebted to both companies for extending knowledge of The Courtaulds achievements to a wide audience through the display and interpretation of select pieces in the Gallery, and through the publication of research into the collection.