Eugène Grasset, designer, Maison Vever, maker, The Sorcerers (Les Sorcières) Necklace, 1900, gold, enamel, carnelian, chrysoprase, pendant: 5½”, chain: 17”. Sydney and Frances Lewis Endowment Fund. VIrginia Museum of Fine Arts.


Willa Z. Silverman will deliver a Françoise and Georges Selz Lecture on Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century French Decorative Arts and Culture on Wednesday, January 23, at 6 pm. Her talk is entitled “Henri Vever: Art Nouveau Jeweler and Collector in Fin-de-Siècle Paris.”

Less well-known today than his contemporary René Lalique, Henri Vever was one of the foremost jewelers of the fin de siècle, whose firm won Grands Prix at the 1889, 1897, and 1900 World’s Fairs. A foremost champion of Art Nouveau who collaborated closely with artists including Eugène Grasset, Vever was also a renowned collector, first of the Impressionists, then of Japanese prints, and finally of Islamic decorative arts. His varied activities placed him at the center of the worlds of art and commerce at the end of the nineteenth century. As his recently-published diary for 1898, edited by Willa Z. Silverman, reveals, Vever’s life and work were motivated by his perception of living in a “very rare era” regarding both artistic production and cultural change.


Willa Z. Silverman is the Malvin E. and Lea P. Bank Professor of French and Jewish Studies and Head of the Department of French and Francophone Studies at Penn State University. Her fields of specialization include French society, culture, and politics, 1870-1914, Art Nouveau, history of the book/print culture studies, and France and the Holocaust. She is the author of The Notorious Life of Gyp: Right-Wing Anarchist in Fin-de-Siècle France (Oxford UP, 1995 and in French translation: Gyp, La dernière des Mirabeau, with a preface by Michel Winock [Plon-Perrin, 1998]); The New Bibliopolis: French Book Collectors and the Culture of Print, 1880-1914 (U of Toronto P, 2008), which received the 2009 Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for French and Francophone Studies, awarded by the Modern Language Association; and Henri Vever, champion de l’Art nouveau (Armand Colin, 2018), which was the subject of a 2018 symposium at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. She has published articles in Book History, Dix-Neuf, Contemporary French Civilization, Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, Nineteenth-Century French Studies, and Quaerendo. In 2017 Dr. Silverman was a Visiting Fellow at the Van Gogh Museum, where she led a seminar entitled “Life and Art in Belle Époque Paris: Collectors, Decorative Arts, Esthetics.” She is currently continuing her editing of Henri Vever’s diaries while working on a book about Franco-American culinary exchanges from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century.


This event will be livestreamed. Please check back the day of the event for a link to the video. To watch videos of past events please visit our YouTube page.