(August 5, 2009)

Contact: Rick DelaHaya, Centenary News Services, 318.869.5073

Museum Presents Silver Art Nouveau Collection Sept 13 Through Nov 8

Jolie and Robert Shelton Collection
TEN YEARS LATER: Robert and Jolie Shelton continue to add to their Martele silver collection. —Courtesy photo

Shreveport, La. — An exhibit of Martele silver from the Jolie and Robert Shelton Collection of Lafayette, the largest private collection of Martele silver in the world, opens to the general public on Sunday, Sept. 13 at the Meadows Museum of Art at Centenary College of Louisiana.

Magnificent, Marvelous, Martele: American Art Nouveau Silver from the Collection of Jolie and Robert Shelton features objects created as part of an exclusive line of Hand-crafted silver by the Gorham Silver Company from 1897 through 1931.

"This incredible and stunning exhibition provides viewers with a rare opportunity to see many of the finest Martele works created by the Gorham Silver Company," said Diane Dufilho, Director of the Meadow museum of Art. "The Board of the Friends of the Algur Meadows Museum and the staff of the Meadows Museum of Art are both grateful and delighted that the Sheltons have decided to loan the collection to us."

The Shelton collection is considered the most comprehensive assemblage of this luxurious line of entirely hand-wrought silver in the world and includes a number of significant examples. Included here are tea-and-coffee services, punchbowls, candelabras, vases and centerpieces and a magnificent dining table laid in the style of the Art Nouveau Period.

Jolie and Robert Shelton Collection

Martele silver was a line begun in the late 19th century by Gorham Manufacturing Co., the largest manufacturer of silver in the world at that time. The company's fortune had been made in mass-produced silver, using large presses that stamped out uniform pieces of flatware and holloware.

Edward Holbrook, its ambitious young leader, pushed to establish a line of silver that was both art and craft, aesthetic and functional. It would be made entirely by hand, each piece original and unique. It would take its inspiration from the nascent art nouveau movement that was gaining momentum in Europe but was little known in the United States.

It would be called Martele, from the French verb marteler, to hammer. Martele made its official debut at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle and was widely admired and awarded a Grand Prix and many other medals.

An exciting and important slate of public programs and events has been developed in tandem with this exhibition and includes lectures, gallery talks, the annual Friends of the Algur Meadows Museum gala at Ernest's Orleans Restaurant, and an object identification session with John Webster Keefe, the RoasMary Curator for The Decorative Arts at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Exhibition program calendar:

  • Sunday, Sept. 13 — Gallery talk entitled The Making of the Martele Collection with Jolie and Robert Shelton, 2-3 p.m. in the museum galleries; light refreshments served
  • Sunday, Oct. 3 — Object identification session with a focus on silver with John Webster Keefe, 2:00 — 4 p.m. in the museum galleries; light refreshments
  • Sunday, Oct. 4 —Museum lecture entitled The History of Martele Silver with John Webster Keefe, Curator of Decorative Arts from the New Orleans Museum of Art, 2— 3 p.m. in the museum galleries; light refreshments
  • Sunday, Oct. 4Friends Gala at Ernest's Orleans Restaurant, 5:30 — 8 p.m. dinner and art auction with cash bar; for more information call 869.5040.
  • Sunday, Oct. 11 — Lecture entitled Gardens of the Art Nouveau Period with Denyse Cummins, Agent for the LSU Ag Center in Northwest Louisiana, 2— 3 p.m. in the museum galleries; light refreshments
  • Saturday, Oct. 24 — Gallery talk entitled Flowers and Plants of the Art Nouveau Period with Sheila Wiggins, Grounds Coordinator for Centenary College of Louisiana, in the museum galleries, 9:30 — 10:30 a.m.; breakfast refreshments begin at 9 a.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 24Friends Fundraiser: Art Nouveau Bulb sale on the grounds of the Meadows Museum of Art, 10:30 a.m. — noon; light refreshments throughout

This exhibition has been organized for travel by Jolie and Robert Shelton of Lafayette with assistance from John Webster Keefe, the RosaMary Curator for The Decorative Arts at the New Orleans Museum of Art in cooperation with the staff of the Meadows Museum of Art at Centenary College of Louisiana. The printing of educational and informational materials has been made possible by a generous grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, a State affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Museum receives general operating support from the Shreveport Regional Arts Council with funds from the City of Shreveport. The Museum receives annual support from the Friends of the Algur Meadows Museum.

About the Jolie and Robert Shelton Collection

Numbering more than 400 pieces, the Shelton collection of Martele silver was assembled in only ten years. Residents of Lafayette, La., Jolie and Robert Shelton purchased their first piece of Martele silver, an 1898 iced water pitcher, at a New Orleans auction in March 1995. The initial acquisition of the iced water pitcher sparked the Shelton's enthusiasm which soon grew into a passion. The Shelton's remarkable collection now includes nearly every important form produced in the Martele line: tea-and-coffee services, flagons, vases, tureens, punch bowls, ladles, fish platters, candelabra, inkstands, porringers, presentation cups and extremely rare Martele flatware.

The Meadows Museum of Art is located on the campus of Centenary College at 2911 Centenary Boulevard in Shreveport. The Museum is open to the general public from noon to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; from noon to 5 p.m. on Thursday; from 1- 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Museum is closed on Monday. The Museum is free of charge to the general public. For further information call 318.869.5040.

About Centenary College of Louisiana

Centenary College is a private, four-year arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Founded in 1825, it is the oldest chartered liberal arts college west of the Mississippi River and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Centenary is one of 16 colleges and universities constituting the Associated Colleges of the South and is regularly rated as one of the top colleges in the South. In 2008 Centenary College celebrated 100 years in Shreveport and Bossier City.