Provident Companies, Inc., Donates Complete Collection of Paul Revere Silver to Worcester Art Museum

WORCESTER, MASS., June 24, 1999 -Provident Companies, Inc., announced today that it will donate the world's largest private collection of Paul Revere silver to the Worcester Art Museum, in Worcester, Mass. A committee of employees of the former Worcester-based Paul Revere Life Insurance Company, which Provident acquired in 1997, chose the Worcester Art Museum as the recipient of this gift, which also includes two engravings made by Paul Revere, and a collection of colonial period furniture.

Carefully collected by the Paul Revere Life Insurance Company over the past three decades, the gift increases the Museum's holdings of Revere works from 59 pieces to a total of 115, making it one of the two largest Revere collections in the world. The Provident collection, which includes many of Revere's later works, enhances the Museum's prestigious collection, which has excellent examples of his earlier style.

"We are extremely grateful to Provident for donating the Revere collection to the Worcester Art Museum," said Museum Director James A. Welu at a ceremony held today at Provident's Paul Revere Room. "The Provident pieces will be a welcome addition to the Worcester Art Museum's world-renowned collection of American art. We look forward to integrating them into our collection, where the public can appreciate them in a broader context."

Commenting on why Provident is donating these objects to the Worcester Art Museum, J. Harold Chandler, Provident's chairman, president and CEO, said: "Paul Revere Life Insurance Company had kept the collection private for nearly three decades, and Provident wanted to allow scholars and the general public greater access to these works. The Worcester Art Museum is the logical place to showcase these beautiful pieces. In addition, the Museum is preeminent in Central Massachusetts in its facilities for the display, study, and conservation of works of art."

"In appreciation of this monumental gift and in tribute to one of America's most talented artists, the Museum will host a year-long exhibition of its entire Revere holdings, including the Provident gifts, plus loans from the American Antiquarian Society," Dr. Welu said. This exhibition will open on Patriot's Day, April 17, 2000.

American decorative arts have been an important component of the Worcester Art Museum's collection starting with the 1905 bequest of the Museum's founder, Stephen Salisbury III, which added rare and important examples of colonial silver by distinguished artists such as Edward Winslow (1669-1753), John Edwards (1671-1746), and William Swan (1715-1774).

See the object list of gifts.

Already famous for its Revere silver, the Worcester Art Museum's collection includes the first and last pieces Revere ever made. The Museum is also the home of Revere's largest commission, "The Paine Service," which he made for Lois Orne, the bride of Dr. William Paine, in 1773. Of the original 45 pieces that Revere created for Paine, the 30 works known to have survived are now at the Worcester Art Museum. In addition, the Museum owns silver works created by Paul Revere's father, Appollos Rivoire, who journeyed from France to Boston in 1715 and became a silversmith in this country.

The two engravings Provident is giving to the Worcester Art Museum will join the Museum's distinguished collection of 17 Revere prints, which the Museum acquired in 1909 from the famous Charles E. Goodspeed collection in Boston. One of the Provident prints engraved by Revere depicts the famous "Boston Massacre." The American Antiquarian Society in Worcester has the preeminent collection of Revere prints, as well as a library of books, manuscripts and periodicals dealing with American history and culture. The combination of the Society's and the Museum's collection of Revere material makes Worcester a leading center for the study of Paul Revere's art.

In addition to the Revere works, the period furniture Provident is donating will be added to the Museum's decorative arts collection, which features American furniture from Colonial times up to the present. The four pieces of furniture Provident is donating include an Aaron Willard tall case clock, a Queen Anne high chest with corkscrew finials, a cherry Chippendale secretary desk, and a Federal sideboard with serpentine front.

An American Revolutionary War hero, Paul Revere lived from 1735 to 1818. In addition to being a silversmith, he was an engraver, dentist, and proprietor of a hardware shop. Silversmithing in Colonial times was an important profession and was often a means of rising to an influential position in early American society. Most silversmiths living in New England during that time were active in the affairs of their communities, and many served as constables, justices, and officers in the militia. In keeping with their high social standing, silversmiths sat for their portraits more often than any other craftsmen did. Often, the artist was as prominent as John Singleton Copley, who painted Paul Revere's portrait.

Museum Background

Opened to the public in 1898, the Worcester Art Museum is the second largest art museum in New England. Its exceptional 35,000-piece collection of paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, photography, prints and drawings is displayed in 36 galleries and spans 5,000 years of art and culture, ranging from Egyptian antiquities and Roman mosaics to Impressionist paintings and contemporary art. Throughout its first century, the Worcester Art Museum proved itself a pioneer: the first American museum to purchase work by Claude Monet (1910) and Paul Gauguin (1921); the first museum to bring a medieval building to America (1927); a sponsor of the first major excavation at Antioch, one of the four great cities of ancient Rome (1932); the first museum to create an Art All-State program for high school artists (1987); the originator of the first exhibition of Dutch master Judith Leyster (1993); and the first museum to focus its contemporary art programs on art of the last 10 years (1998). The Museum's hours are: Wednesday through Sunday, 11am-5pm, and Saturday 10am-5pm. Admission: FREE for members; Non-members: $8 Adults; $6 Seniors and full-time college students with current ID; FREE for youth 17 and under; FREE for everyone Saturday mornings 10am-noon sponsored by The TJX Companies and Massachusetts Electric Company. For more information, call (508) 799-4406 or visit the Museum at 55 Salisbury Street in Worcester.