Department Specialist

Nicholas B.A. Nicholson
Senior Vice President | Division Head



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Published: 12 October 2017

Behind the Collection: Howard and Barbara Silby

Ardent collectors of British and European majolica, Dr. Howard and Barbara Silby have been respected as art collectors in Washington, DC for decades.  A number of pieces from their collection are currently on display in Freeman’s British & European Furniture & Decorative Arts Sale exhibition.

Their exceptional collection, representing a wide range of forms and makers, served as an important study for several prominent decorative arts scholars. A number of pieces from the Silby Collection featured in the forthcoming sale are illustrated in Nicholas M Dawes’ Majolica, published in 1990, as well as Dimitrios N. Bastas’ Etruscan Majolica: The Definitive Reference to the Majolica of Griffen, Smith & Company, published in 2015.

Dr. Silby is well-known as a principal neurologist while his late wife, Barbara, worked as a political fundraiser and activist, and served in the Carter and Clinton administrations. Aside from her passion for politics, Mrs. Silby’s love of contemporary art led her to develop a focused interest in the field, eventually developing a second career as a gallerist.

Below are just a few highlights from Dr. and Mrs. Silby’s impressive collection. Stop by Freeman’s Oct. 12-16 to see them in person.

Lot 364
A Minton revolving oyster stand, circa 1865, comprised of 27 shells in four tiers and an eel and fish finial.

Lot 365
A Minton majolica crab serving dish and cover, circa 1859.

Lot 374
A pair of Joseph Holdcroft majolica figural sweetmeat dishes, circa 1865.

Lot 377
A Minton majolica cachepot, circa 1864. A near exact model is illustrated in Nicholas M. Dawes’ Majolica. This cachepot was originally designed around 1851, and Edward Rischgitz served as the artist credited for hand painting the roundel scenes on a number of examples thereafter.

Lot 384
A Joseph Holdcroft majolica cigar box and cover, circa 1875.

Lot 386
A George Jones stilton cheese stand and cover in the form of a haystack, circa 1875. The design drawing for this cheese stand and cover is also illustrated in Majolica.

View the full collection in the Oct. 17 British & European Furniture & Decorative Art sale here. 

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