The Yale Center for British Art will present an exhibition featuring the enigmatic masterpiece The Paston Treasure (ca. 1663) in its North American debut. The Paston Treasure was commissioned around 1663 by either Sir William Paston, first Baronet (1610–1662/63), or his son Robert Paston, first Earl of Yarmouth (1631–1683). The identity of the painter, a Dutch itinerant artist working out of a makeshift studio at Oxnead Hall, remains unresolved, although candidates have been proposed. Adding to its mystique, the painting defies categorization because it combines several art historical genres: still life, portraiture, animal painting, and allegory. This exhibition will include treasures from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that appear in the painting: a pair of silver-gilt flagons, a Strombus shell cup, two unique nautilus cups, and a perfume flask with a mother-of-pearl body, which will be gathered together for the first time in more than three centuries. A host of other objects will tell the story of collecting within the Paston family from the medieval period until the moment of the making of the painting. This exhibition will subsequently travel to the Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, where it will be on view from June 23 to September 23, 2018.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication, The Paston Treasure: Microcosm of the Known World, co-edited by Andrew Moore, Nathan Flis, and Francesca Vanke; and published by the Yale Center for British Art and the Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery in association with Yale University Press.