Museum acquires Hester Bateman silver
Gift honors first and only remaining original Darden faculty member, John Douglas Forbes
|The art museum recently acquired these 18th century silver sauce boats, crafted by Hester Bateman.
By Jane Ford
What does a former Darden faculty member, the U.Va. Art Museum and a pair of 18th century silver sauce boats from California have in common?
Seemingly nothing, until the art museum received a recent gift — a pair of Georgian silver sauce boats in honor of Mr. and Mrs. John Franklin Forbes of San Francisco — currently on view in the museum’s Pine Room Gallery.
The silver comes from the California Historical Society, which now restricts its collection to California. Hester Bateman (1709-1794), the most famous of the late 18th century female silversmiths, crafted the pieces. Bateman, widowed at the age of 51, took over her husband’s metal smithy in Bunhill Row on the fringes of the city of London. She did not retire until she was more than 80 years old, after she developed the shop from a single outworker’s hut into a gigantic silversmith business that she ran with her sons
Peter and Jonathan. Jonathan’s wife, Ann, a silver worker in her own right, and their son William, also joined the family business. The ware that this group fashioned, under Hester Bateman’s guidance, ranks in quality and design with that of the best 18th and early 19th century products.
The vessels were given to the California Historical Society as a joint gift from John Douglas Forbes, son of the honorees, and his children, Pamela and Peter Forbes. They asked the society to present these non-Californian works to U.Va. because John Douglas Forbes was the first professor appointed to the new business school, the Darden School, and is the sole survivor of the original faculty.