When the widowed Hester Bateman took over her husband’s silver workshop in 1761, she faced the staggering challenge of running a physically and creatively demanding business at a time when domestic service was the only female-friendly industry. Fortunately, Hester was up for the challenge and proved to be a skilled craftswoman, savvy businesswoman, and an industrial matriarch who led a son, daughter-in-law, and grandson into the family profession.
Hester Bateman: Setting the Table for Female Enterprise will include examples of fifty beautiful silver works wrought by Hester and her descendants over a span of fifty years. From a delicately detailed medicine dispenser or an intricately wrought sugar basket to a stately imposing urn, the exhibit showcases the stunning functional objects that the Batemans crafted for upper class society in the buttoned-up era of Jane Austen. The polished tableware that once signaled elegant refinement takes on a new luster when viewed as the product of Hester’s tenacious pioneering in female enterprise. This exhibition tells the remarkable story of everyone’s soon-to-be favorite 18th-century silversmith.