Art: New Values for Old Silver

ONCE, the art of the silversmith was high art. In the Middle Ages silver in Europe was reserved for kings, princelings and powers, whether religious or secular. An established sculptor like Benvenuto Cellini did not consider it beneath him to fashion elaborate silver ewers and saltcellars, even though they looked more like the Trevi fountain than a functional device.

The tradition of artistic elegance passed on to succeeding generations of silversmiths, and continued even after the discovery of Peru's rich silver mines in 1533 made the metal available to Europe's relatively common people....

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