The Koopman Rare Art Collection of Candelabra Catalogue

Our superb collection of candelabra date from as early as 1739 through to 1962. This collection will be on view at our forth coming Treasure House Fair here in London 27th June - 2nd July.  

The Progression of ‘Light’ through the Ages

22 June 2024

Our Director’s Choice this week focuses on the history of the candelabra. It is released alongside our online catalogue on The Koopman Rare Art Collection of Candelabra which we will be showcasing at The Treasure House Fair here in London 28th June - 2nd July.

The Marquess of Breadalbane’s Sugar Vases

15 June 2024

We all recognise the retailer - silversmith relationships which existed between Rundell, Bridge & Rundell and Paul Storr as well as Kensington Lewis and Edward Farrell, there is also good evidence to suggest that William Elliott was chief supplier of new plate to the goldsmith and jeweller, Thomas Hamlet (1770-1853).   Trade cards, billheads, advertisements, newspaper reports and existing examples of silver and silver-gilt are abundant evidence that the early 19th century London goldsmith, Thomas Hamlet counted among his customers members of the British royal family. These included, George the Prince of Wales, later George IV, Frederick Augustus the Duke of York and their sisters, the Princesses Augusta, Elizabeth, Mary and Sophia who were all purchasers at his shop in Princes Street, Leicester Square.   Whilst Thomas Hamlet was Goldsmith to the King, his principal silversmith during the most fruitful years of his career was William Elliott of Clerkenwell. Elliott (1773-1855) is recorded as the manufacturing silversmith at 25 Compton Street, Clerkenwell. The lack of any substantial information about him and his workshop in no way diminishes the exceptional quality of much of the surviving silver and silver-gilt which bears his mark.   These superb vases exemplify how imaginative, elegant and beautifully executed the designs of Elliot’s workshop were and are my Director’s Choice this week. The vases were commissioned by one of the most interesting characters of the 19th century. Pieces bearing the crest, coat-of-arms or more often the signature of Breadalbane rank amongst the finest plate produced in the 19th century.

The Ferguson Wine Coasters

08 June 2024

In all the years of handling silver these are the finest Victorian wine coasters we have had the pleasure to be the custodians of. With an extraordinarily elaborate border of harvesting bacchic putti, goats and vine branches together with delicately chased leaves, the scale, quality and gauge is unrivalled with of a gross weight of 3,580g, (115 oz 2 dwt).  The family’s crest, garter, motto and reverse cypher are set within a scheme of both plain and chased rocaille scrolls. To the underside of each are four casters, an uncommon feature enabling them to be wheeled down the dining table to the next guest. We are proud to present these celebrations of the love of wine that graced the dining tables of the clan Ferguson as this week’s Director Choice.

Directors Choice – Giovanni Bellezza’s Milanese Masterpiece

01 June 2024

It is generally believed that the first evidence of the sniffing of a powdered tobacco was recorded by the Franciscan monk, Ramon Pane, in 1497. Although the most popular form of inhaling tobacco right up until the late 17th century was of course through smoking. By the beginning of the 18th century the fashion for taking snuff had become widespread. Gold boxes have always played a long and important role in fashion, self-promotion, diplomacy and in collecting. Often, they were used as a currency for their monetary value and the status they could embody. Their practical purpose was usually secondary, and they have always been a source of fascination. This Italian eighteen carat gold table snuff box is of such exceptional proportions and its creator the goldsmith Bellezza has spared no expense in the making of his masterpiece. It is lavishly decorated and finished with such jewel like quality that it is my Director’s Choice. We are proud to present this unique triumph of the goldsmith.It is generally believed that the first evidence of the sniffing of a powdered tobacco was recorded by the Franciscan monk, Ramon Pane, in 1497. Although the most popular form of inhaling tobacco right up until the late 17th century was of course through smoking. By the beginning of the 18th century the fashion for taking snuff had become widespread. Gold boxes have always played a long and important role in fashion, self-promotion, diplomacy and in collecting. Often, they were used as a currency for their monetary value and the status they could embody. Their practical purpose was usually secondary, and they have always been a source of fascination. This Italian eighteen carat gold table snuff box is of such exceptional proportions and its creator the goldsmith Bellezza has spared no expense in the making of his masterpiece. It is lavishly decorated and finished with such jewel like quality that it is my Director’s Choice. We are proud to present this unique triumph of the goldsmith.

The Hope Tea & Coffee Service

25 May 2024

When seeking perfection in Neo-classical architecture one need look no further than this magnificent tea and coffee service which I am proud to present as my Directors Choice. With its jewel like finish it mirrors ancient forms to present vessels for the civilised ceremony of taking tea and coffee. Because of its beauty, design and quality this service captured the imagination of one of the great Regency designers.

Vessels for Punch

18 May 2024

One of our most recent acquisitions is the splendid Baron Guernsey Monteith bowl, it has made me focus on our current magnificent collection of vessels made for punch. Our collection dates from 1695 to 1744 and highlights the importance and popularity of this ‘new world’ concoction. Punch remained the tipple of choice for English aristocrats for hundreds of years. The spirits consisted of tea, sugar, citrus and nutmeg and were all expensive ingredients. Lemons were scarce and costly, and became status symbols in Northern Europe, one of the reasons they are found in so many Dutch still life paintings. In the late 17th century London, a three-quart bowl of punch cost the equivalent of half a week's living wage.  Commissioning one of these silver vessels was the perfect way to show your education, prosperity and status. My Director's Choice this week focuses on three exceptional punch bowls, each exemplifying the skill, craftsmanship and lengths their owners went to create these table ornaments that served both in function and beauty.

The Coventry Vases

11 May 2024

The genius of Rundell, Bridge and Rundell was their ability to promote display silver as fine art. The large pieces of plate they were producing were pure sculpture. They were clever in protecting their workshops by running all aspects of the process and thus preventing their new and magnificent designs from entering the hands of rival firms such as Green Ward & Green. Rundell were unique in making objects for their showrooms on a speculative basis and were able to promote them by exhibiting silver made for the Prince of Wales’s new service or indeed the famous Shield of Achilles in 1807 and 1821 respectively. They were able to draw on their extensive library and every form of antiquity would have inspired their ever-evolving designs for these splendid table sculptures. This magnificent set of table vases exemplify the genius and perfection that the architect, modeller and silversmith could achieve for the royal retailers and are my Director’s Choice this week.

A Zoomorphic Collection

04 May 2024

Stumbling on such a whimsical menagerie so full of life and character as this group of drinking vessels is what makes this business such a pleasure. Finding so many original, rare forms of novelty Victoriana makes this a truly exciting opportunity for the collector.

A Pair of George IV Silver Tureens, Covers & Stands from The Duchess of St. Albans Service

27 April 2024

This extraordinary pair of soup tureens, liners and stands exemplify the magnificence of what was the most valuable service in the country. The lavishness and opulence of the cast and applied decoration of patriotic English oak and acorns together with adorned acanthus would have graced the presence of royalty and aristocrats at the Duchess’ residence in Statton Street. The beauty of their design by Edward Hodges Baily and brilliance in execution by Rundell’s workshop make these my Director’s Choice this week.

The Scarbrough Sauceboats

20 April 2024

These sculptural vessels epitomise the high rocaille style created by Nicholas Sprimont. They also demonstrate the close ties between the modelling of silver and porcelain and the interconnected business relationships between a small group of leading silversmiths working around Compton Street in Soho in the 18th century. Sauceboats of this quality exist in a few museum collections around the world. This jewel-like pair has quality, provenance, and exquisite modelling, making these an easy Director’s Choice.

19th Century Jewellery

13 April 2024

As we continue to expand our collection of jewellery at Koopman Rare Art, we endeavour to find rare and wonderful jewels made in the 19th and early 20th century. Jewellery in the 19th century was characterised by opulence, innovation and symbolism, reflecting the social, cultural and technological advancements of the time. The early years were heavily influenced by the neoclassical style, drawing inspirations from ancient Greece and Rome. This is highlighted through the use of cameos and intaglios, and motifs of classical figures reflecting the fascination with ideals of harmony and mythology. Though as the century progressed and the Romantic movement swept across Europe, jewellery craftsmanship was inspired by nature and emotion, with floral motifs and symbols of love becoming more prominent. Gemstones like pearls, sapphires and turquoise were favoured for their delicate colours and organic appeal.

A 17th Century Norwegian Peg Tankard

06 April 2024

My choice this week is this little jewel of a tankard. It is perfect in its colour, proportions, and use of ornamentation and cast elements. Finding a Norwegian silver tankard as early as 1650 is incredibly rare. This beautiful example has unusual features, such as its double-eagle thumb piece and three handsome lion sejant feet.

The Countess Branicki Tureens

30 March 2024

These sumptuous tureens form part of one of the most famous dinner services that Jean-Baptiste Claude Odiot was commissioned to make amongst other such as the Borghese or Demidoff services. They epitomise the pure essence of the High Empire style with elegant proportions and exquisite detail, they are my director’s choice and we are proud to present their beauty and history.

The Sampaio Candelabra Centrepieces

23 March 2024

The grandeur of the Regency period was never better represented than in the quality, scale, proportions, and masterful workmanship of this monumental pair of candelabra centrepieces that we proudly present as my Director’s Choice this week.  A celebration of the fruits of the earth to be enjoyed in the banqueting halls of Casa Palmela in Lisbon, the home of Henrique Teixeira de Sampaio, 1st Conde de Póvoa and Barao de Teixeira. They formed part of one of the most important services ever produced by Paul Storr immediately after his time had finished with the retail firm Rundell Bridge and Rundell. Here Storr truly shows his virtuosity and ability, and no detail is spared given the scale of these masterpieces of the decorative works of art.

A Unique Discovery

16 March 2024

Our continual quest to find the next masterpiece or unearth that lost treasure leads us on the rare occasion to have the fortune of stumbling on something completely unique. This is the first time I have had the pleasure of handling a chocolate jug and not just a single example, but a perfectly formed pair surviving in pristine condition. I have only read about such objects in the past and their presence is something that has only existed in ledgers or inventory records of the royal palaces and aristocratic households. It is easy to make this pair of splendid chocolate jugs my Director’s Choice.

An Exquisite Cased Set of 18th Century Tea Caddies

09 March 2024

  Currently (7th-14th March), we are exhibiting at TEFAF Maastricht. This week, I want to highlight an exceptional set of cased Tea Caddies; I hope they will give you an idea of the calibre of objects we have brought with us to TEFAF.

A Royal Pair of Bacchic Ewers

02 March 2024

The Warwick Vase, an ancient Roman marble vase with Bacchic ornament was discovered at Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli about 1771 by Gavin Hamilton, a Scottish painter-antiquarian and art dealer in Rome. With John Flaxman and Paul Storr creating the first versions in silver, it was to become England’s Vase, affirming its owner was a connoisseur of the classics and grand tour. These extraordinary royal vessels for wine incorporate the Bacchic masks, vine tendrils, thyrsi, and grape and vine architecture that are wholly inspired by this famous vase. They are my Director’s Choice as their sublime finish and attention to the detail make these royal ewers amongst the finest, I have ever had the pleasure to handle. We will be exhibiting these stunning ewers at this years TEFAF Maastricht which runs from 7th – 14th March.

The Earl Of Grosvenor’s Triton Salt Cellars

24 February 2024

With the approach of TEFAF Maastricht 7th - 14th March, I wanted to showcase another one of the highlights we will be exhibiting this year. The celebrated silversmith Paul Storr made this magnificent set of eight salt cellars for the Earl of Grosvenor while working for the Royal retail firm Rundell, Bridge & Rundell.

A Set of Three George II Cups & Covers

17 February 2024

With the approach of TEFAF Maastricht 7th - 14th March, I wanted to showcase one of the highlights we will be exhibiting this year. We are on the eternal quest to find perfection and every once in a while, you come across something of such exceptional beauty that it literally takes your breath away. This extraordinary suite of cups and covers leaves the admirer in awe of the technical ability, grace of design, and inspired by the beauty that the royal goldsmith Thomas Heming achieved in the creation of these magnificent objects. I am proud to present these as my choice this week.

A Pair of Unique George III Rococo Candelabra

09 February 2024

Belonging to the late Rococo, these exquisite English candelabra are far from excessive in their rich decoration. They are the perfect balance of form, fluidity and harmony.

Massive Chinese Punch Bowl

05 February 2024

To celebrate Year of the Dragon, I thought it would be the perfect time to start my weekly choice of object. The world will celebrate Chinese New Year on the 10th and 11 th February. The most famous of the Chinese Zodiac animals, the Dragon is strong and independent and is a great leader, yet they seek support and reassurance from others.

Graceful Vessels for Wine

16 January 2024

The first table wine coolers were made in the closing years of the 17th century with the use of the wine cistern slowly being superseded. The need for a single bottle cooler was felt, probably at first on those rare occasions when the master of the great house was dining alone. These were two-handled and vase-shaped having a detachable collar and liner to hold back the ice and to allow for the free insertion of the bottle. Usually made in pairs or occasionally in sets of four, wine coolers were substantial objects, and were intended as much for display as for use. The 19th century saw this vase-shaped form develop with prevailing fashionable details varying in everything from Rococo to Gothic architecture. The difference with Paul Storr, at first with Rundell, Bridge and Rundell from 1807-1819 and after with Storr & Mortimer and other outlets for luxury goods was startling: instead of patrons dictating the type of goods he or she required and what they should look like, Storr determined what the client should buy. The full ornamental value of twisting vine tendrils, spreading shaped leaves and fleshy bunches of grapes and the modelling of such with a Bacchic theme would have been a standard part of an apprentice artisans training from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. With wonderful architects and artists employed to design new items. The likes of William Theed R.A, Thomas Stothard R.A, John Flaxman, the influences of James "Athenian" Stuart and Edward Hodges Baily were just a few of the great minds helping Paul Storr achieve the wonders that finally graced the table as a wine cooler. We are proud to present a selection of these elegant, superbly detailed and beautiful vessels that graced the tables of the great houses here in England. All bearing that magical goldsmith’s signature of Paul Storr. The Earl of Caledon’s Wine Coolers A Magnificent Pair of George III Wine Coolers London, 1809 Maker's mark of Paul Storr Weight: 232.88 ozs, (7,242g) Height: 9.25in, (23.5cm) Bearing the coats-of-arms of  Du Pré Alexander, 2nd Earl of Caledon. These wine coolers in imperial style are of urn shape, with detachable capes and interior liners. The capes with shell, gadroon and palmette borders, the main body half-fluted with a single plain band. The two reeded handles with cast shell and foliate decoration, terminating in lion’s head mask. The coolers resting on four lion’s paw feet raised on an alter pedestal. Each side with the family coat-of-arms and engraved with the family motto, "PER MARE PER TERRAS"   The 2nd Earl of Caledon, engraved by Charles Turner from a portrait by Richard Rothwell Du Pré Alexander, 2nd Earl of Caledon KP. (14 December 1777 – 8 April 1839)  Styled the Honourable Du Pré Alexander from 1790 to 1800 and Viscount Alexander from 1800 to 1802, was an Irish peer, landlord and colonial administrator, and was the second child and only son of James Alexander, 1st Earl of Caledon He was educated from 1790 to 1796 at Eton College in England and later at Christ Church, Oxford. He was elected Member of Parliament for Newtownards in 1800 and sat in the Irish House of Commons until the Act of Union in 1801. In the latter year, he was appointed High Sheriff of Armagh.[1] He succeeded to the title of Earl of Caledon on the death of his father in 1802 and was elected a Representative Peer for Ireland in 1804. In July 1806 he was appointed Governor of the Cape of Good Hope in what is now South Africa. He was the first governor on the Cape's cession to United Kingdom; the Caledon River and the district Caledon, Western Cape there are named after him. Lord Caledon was not, literally, the first British civil governor of the Cape, having been preceded in that capacity by Lord Macartney and Sir George Yonge, successive holders of the office between the first conquest of the Cape, and its cession back to the Dutch under the terms of the Peace of Amiens of 1802. Rather, Lord Caledon was the first civil governor after the Cape's reconquest from the Dutch by General Sir David Baird in 1806. The question of the relationship between the civil and the military authorities of the colony, personified in Lord Caledon's relationship with the Commander-in-Chief, General Sir Henry Grey, was the most troublesome of the former's period of office as governor, and the issue on which he resigned in June 1811. Less than three years after his departure, in March 1814, an open letter was written defending his record as governor. The writer, Colonel Christopher Bird, Deputy Colonial Secretary at the Cape (subsequently Colonial Secretary), was well qualified to speak, although his partisanship on Lord Caledon's behalf is unconcealed. In another part of the Caledon Papers, Lord Caledon's own appraisal of his governorship of the Cape is to be found. It occurs in the course of a letter which he wrote to the Prime Minister, the 2nd Earl of Liverpool, in 1818 stating his claims to be given a peerage of the United Kingdom: '... The administration of the colonial government during my residence there for a term of four years, was more than usually arduous, in consequence of my being the first civil governor after the capture of the settlement, and from there being no records of a former British government in any of the public offices at The Cape. ... I hope I shall be excused for stating that, upon my own responsibility and under the most embarrassing circumstances, occasioned by the loss of four British frigates which were to have protected the convoy, I detached 2,000 infantry to co-operate with the force from India in the reduction of the Mauritius. In a letter from Lord Minto [Governor General of India] upon that occasion, he acknowledges the public service I rendered, not only as relating to the fall of the Mauritius, but adds that it was to the co-operation I afforded he was indebted for the means of moving against Java. ...'.[2] Lord Caledon married Lady Catherine Yorke, daughter of Philip Yorke, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke and Lady Elizabeth Lindsay, on 16 October 1811 in St. James' Church, Westminster, and had issue: James Du Pre Alexander, 3rd Earl of Caledon (27 July 1812 – 30 June 1855) With this marriage the Caledon family effectively inherited Tyttenhanger House near St Albans, Hertfordshire, which had belonged to the 3rd Earl of Hardwicke's grandmother, Katherine Freeman, the sister and heiress of Sir Henry Pope Blount, 3rd and last Baronet.[2] Sir Henry died in 1757 without issue, leaving his sister Katherine, the wife of Rev. William Freeman, his heir. She left an only daughter, Catherine, who married Charles Yorke, second son of Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke, whose son Philip, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke, on his death in 1834, left four daughters, to the second of whom, Catherine, the wife of the 2nd Earl of Caledon, came the manor of Tyttenhanger. Lord Caledon was invested as a Knight of St Patrick on 20 August 1821 and was appointed Lord Lieutenant of County Tyrone in 1831. He died on 8 April 1839 at Caledon, aged 61, much mourned by his tenants in the model town of Caledon, which he had rebuilt and enlarged so sympathetically. A loyal address from the tenantry issued a few years earlier alludes to his 'acts of liberality, munificence and kindness' and there is plenty of evidence to confirm that this was no mere empty elegy. 'Lord Caledon', wrote Inglis in his book Ireland (1834), 'is all that could be desire – a really good resident country gentleman'.[3] Lady Caledon died on 8 July 1863, having bequeathed Tyttenhanger to her daughter-in-law Jane, with an entail upon her four children and, according to one source, the estate descended to her eldest son James Alexander, 4th Earl of Caledon, who died in 1898. His widow became lady of the manor and held it in trust for her children.[4] Other sources indicate that Tyttenhanger was the home of Lady Jane Van Koughnet, the daughter of the 4th Earl of Caledon, and her husband, Commander E. B. Van Koughnet, until her death in 1941.[5] The house was sold in 1973. References: 1. Stuart, John (1819). Historical Memoirs of The City of Armagh. Newry: Alexander Wilkinson. p. 557. 2. Summary of the Caledon Papers, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, A. P. W. Malcomson 3. Great Houses of Ireland, Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd and Christopher Simon Sykes (Laurence King, London 1999) 4. A History of the County of Hertford: volume 2, 1908, found at 5. Hertfordshire County Homes, found at        homes.htm The Earl of Coventry’s Wine Coolers A Magnificent Set of Four George III Wine Coolers London, 1810 With maker’s mark of Paul Storr Retailed by Rundell, Bridge and Rundell Height: 11 5/8 in. 29.5 cm   Weight: 21,894 g, 703 oz 19 dwt Bearing the coat-of-arms of the Earl of Coventry This form of wine cooler is based on the Roman Medici Krater but some of the decoration has been replaced by the splendid cast and applied coats-of-arms of the Earl of Coventry. The lower bodies cast in sections and applied with palm and acanthus spaced with grapes and cornucopias above square bases. The capes with egg and dart rims above applied grapevine. The stippled bodies with applied cast contemporary arms, supporters and coronets. The reeded handles rising from bearded Bacchic masks and backed by large anthemia. The base rims with the Latin signature of Rundell, Bridge & Rundell and numbered 406. The arms are those of Coventry, for George 7th Earl of Coventry 1758-1831, who succeeded to the title in 1809. His father, the 6th Earl, who married one of the Gunning sisters, famous for their beauty, updated Croome Court in Worcestershire with the help of Capability Brown and Robert Adam. It was Brown’s first project, started in 1751 and called by him “his first and most favourite child”. Adam was brought to the house in 1760 and his long gallery is thought to be the first complete example of his work. Both remained friends with the Earl who was a pall bearer at Adam’s funeral. The tapestry room (Gobelins) is now installed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.   Baron Roberts Wine Coolers A Pair of 19th Century Regency Wine Coolers By Paul Storr London, 1812 Weight: 9300 g, 299 oz Bearing the coat-of-arms of Baron Roberts The wine coolers on square pedestal feet with urn shaped collets rising to the main krater-shaped bodies. The base of the body with fluting with an ovolo band. The entire bodies stippled with cast and applied coats-of-arms to either side for the Roberts family. The tops of the main body with cast and applied grapes and vines following all the way round and sprouting from the bifurcated vine branch handles. The capes with a cast laurel border, the coolers also with their original silver liners.   A Pair of 19th Century George III Wine Cooler on Stands. London, 1819 Maker’s mark of Paul Storr Weight: 367 oz 6 dwt Height: 26.7 cm, 10.5 in The design of this magnificent pair of wine coolers on stands is attributed to Edward Hodges Baily. The wine coolers on circular stands with shell, acanthus and palmette borders. The bases also fluted and rising to a platform with a band of scrolling acanthus. The coolers on four scrolled shell feet with a cast and applied spray of oak leaf and acorn rising up the body of the cooler above the shells. The main bodies fluted and terminating at the collar with a contrasting plain convex band. The reeded handles bound and terminating on the main body with acanthus leaves. The capes with a matching border of shell, acanthus and palmette border to the base. The coolers also with their original silver liners. Literature: For comparison, Paul Storr, 1771-1844: Silversmith and Goldsmith by Norman M. Penzer. A Pair of Geo IV Warwick Vase Wine Coolers London, 1821 Maker’s mark of Paul Storr Weight: 6,740 g, 216 oz 14 dwt Height: 19.5 cm, 7.7 in The Warwick Vase is an ancient Roman marble vase with Bacchic ornament that was discovered at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli about 1771 by Gavin Hamilton, a Scottish painter-antiquarian and art dealer in Rome, and is now in the Burrell Collection near Glasgow in Scotland. The vase was found in the silt of a marshy pond at the low point of the villa's extensive grounds, where Hamilton had obtained excavation rights and proceeded to drain the area. Hamilton sold the fragments to Sir William Hamilton, British envoy at the court of Naples from whose well-known collection it passed to his nephew George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick, where it caused a sensation. Restoration of the Vase The design and much of the ornament is Roman, of the second century CE, but the extent to which the fragments were restored and completed after its discovery, to render it a fit object for a connoisseur's purchase, may be judged from Sir William Hamilton's own remark "I was obliged to cut a block of marble at Carrara to repair it, which has been hollowed out & the fragments fixed on it, by which means the vase is as firm & entire as the day it was made." Needless to say, Sir William did not visit Carrara to hew the block himself. The connoisseur-dealer James Byres's role in shaping the present allure of the Warwick Vase is not generally noted: "The great Vase is nearly finished and I think comes well. I beg'd of Mr. Hamilton to go with me the other day to give his opinion. He approved much of the restoration but thought the female mask copied from that in Piranesi's candelabro  ought to be a little retouch'd to give more squareness and character, he's of opinion that the foot ought neither to be fluted nor ornamented but left as it is being antique, and that no ornament ought to be introduced on the body of the vase behind the handles, saying that it would take away from the effect & grouping of the masks. Piranesi is of the same opinion relative to the foot but thinks there is too great an emptyness behind the handles.... It's difficult to say which of these opinions ought to be followed, but I rather lean toward Mr. Hamiltons." Thus it appears James Byres rather than Giovanni Battista Piranesi was put in charge of the vase's restoration and completion. Piranesi made two etchings of the vase as completed, dedicated to Sir William, which were included in his 1778 publication, Vasi, candelabri, cippi..." which secured its reputation and should have added to its market desirability. Sir William apparently hoped to sell it to the British Museum, which had purchased his collection of "Etruscan" vases: "Keep it I cannot, as I shall never have a house big enough for it", he wrote.     The Vase at Warwick Castle Disappointed by the British Museum, Hamilton shipped the fully restored vase to his elder nephew, George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick, who set it at first on a lawn at Warwick Castle, but with the intention of preserving it from the British climate, he commissioned a special greenhouse for it, fitted, however, with Gothic windows, from a local architect at Warwick, William Eboral: "I built a noble greenhouse, and filled it with beautiful plants. I placed in it a vase, considered as the finest remains of Grecian art extant for size and beauty. "The vase was displayed on a large plinth, which remains with it in the Burrell Collection, where it is also displayed in a courtyard-like setting inside the building, surrounded by miniature fig trees. The vase was widely admired and much visited in the Earl's greenhouse, but he permitted no full-size copies to be made of it, until moulds were made at the special request of Lord Lonsdale, who intended to have a full-size replica cast— in silver. The sculptor William Theed the elder, who was working for the Royal silversmiths Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, was put in charge of the arrangements, but Lord Lonsdale changed his mind, and a project truly of Imperial Russian scale was aborted. (Please see Christopher Hartop’s Royal Goldsmiths: The art of Rundell & Bridge page 117 for a more accurate account). The rich ornament, and the form, which is echoed in sixteenth-century Mannerist vases, combined to give the Warwick Vase great appeal to the nineteenth-century eye: numerous examples in silver and bronze were made, and porcelain versions by Rockingham and Worcester. Theed's moulds were sent to Paris, where two full-size bronze replicas were cast, one now Windsor Castle, the other in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Reduced versions in cast-iron continue to be manufactured as garden ornaments, and in these ways the Warwick Vase took up a place in the visual repertory of classical design. It was even the model for the silver-gilt tennis trophy, the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup won at the Australian Open.   On display at the Burrell Collection near Glasgow   After it was sold in London in 1978 and purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Warwick Vase was declared an object of national importance, and an export license was delayed. Matching funds were raised, and, as it was not of sufficient archaeological value for the British Museum, it found a sympathetic home at the Burrell Collection, Glasgow.  

The Lustre of Gold

08 November 2023

Man has long been fascinated with the glitter of gold, but its high cost and great softness rendered it impractical for many purposes. Demand for this precious metal drove silversmiths down the ages to devise methods of applying a gold finish to silver. Since ancient times gilding has enhanced silver objects, and items that have undergone that process are referred to as silver gilt, or vermeil in French. There are various methods of gilding, some more dangerous than others. That used in pre-Columbian South America by the Incas was depletion gilding, producing a layer of nearly pure gold on an object of gold alloy by the removal of the other metals from its surface. Another method is overlaying, or the folding of gold leaf, as mentioned in Homer's Odyssey. A third is fire gilding with mercury which involves applying an amalgam of gold and mercury to a silver surface. Heat volatizes the mercury and bonds a strong layer of gold to the silver. Although dangerous for the worker, this method, dating back to the sixth century BC, was used until comparatively recently. It has now been superseded almost entirely by electroplating in which electrolysis is used to coat the surface with gold. This process was finally patented in 1840 by John Wright under the watchful eye of Frederick Elkington the great Victorian retailers of Birmingham. The process of gilding, however, was costly. While in 1664 Samuel Pepys complained that the cost to "fashion", or the making of a piece, had risen to the same level as the raw material itself (both were 5 shillings an ounce), gilding the finished article could cost an additional 3 shillings an ounce. I was fortunate to handle a fine pair of silver-gilt baskets made in London, 1766-7, by Parker and Wakelin in 2007. Documentation in the form of ledgers from their time of making shows that gilding added approximately 25 per cent to the total cost; this was considerably more than commissioning an object in silver yet still less than one produced in gold. By the Middle Ages, European gold was worth ten to twelve times more than silver, but by the eighteenth a nineteenth centuries the price ratio had risen to fifteen to one. Even so, achieving the golden look through gilding became ever more popular. “There was never perhaps an occasion where more plate was brought together in one place “recalled George Fox, Rundells shopman writing in the 1840s on the banquet given by the Corporation of London for the Prince Regent, the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia on 18 June 1814. Painting by Luke Clennal.   Silver-gilt objects were often used as status symbols, as exemplified by a painting of the Guildhall Banquet held in 1814 for the Prince Regent, the Tsar of Russia, and the King of Prussia. One dinner service is in silver gilt and the other quite intentionally in silver: guests seated with the silver-gilt service are "superior" to those with the silver service. They are also seated in an elevated position over their guests. However, in French silver, many of the important services that have survived to date are entirely in silver gilt. Take for example the early nineteenth-century services for General Count François-Xavier Branicki, or for Count Nikolai Demidoff, or indeed the Borghese service or that made for Madame Mère, the mother of Napoleon. These grand dinner services were nearly all produced by Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot and Martin-Guillaume Biennais, both of whom executed imperial commissions.   Madame Mère’s inkstand by Jean-Baptiste Claude Odiot, Paris 1809-1819   In this period popularity of silver-gilt items soared on both sides of the Channel, with the English royal goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge & Rundell and master silversmiths Paul Storr and Benjamin Smith leading the way. Their most important patrons were King George III, the Prince Regent (later George IV) and various children of the royal family. Gold, unlike silver, is neither affected by the corrosiveness of salt nor by discoloration by sulphur, nor indeed by the acidity of many of the desserts that were popular at this time. Both silver and silver-gilt dessert services were thus used not merely to denote status but also for a practical reason: after the main course was served on plain silver, the main service was replaced or complemented by the silver-gilt dessert service, sometimes with diners adjourning to a separate room for dessert. Aside from being less expensive than gold, silver-gilt items are lighter in weight and much more durable. Therefore, many delicate objects were made in silver gilt. The nef (cf. the Burghley nef) is a dinner-table ornament or utilitarian vessel in the form of a ship. It dates from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century and was used as a drinking vessel or salt cellar. Indeed, the salt cellar is where silver gilt truly excelled. From medieval times, people recognized the importance of salt as a preservative. Elaborate and grand vessels were made to sit on the table before the master of the house. The expression "right hand man" used today derives from one's position at the table in relation to the salt cellar.   The Burghley Nef made in Paris in 1527–28. In Renaissance Europe the cabinets of curiosities (Wunderkammern) of noble households held vast collections in which many wonders from the New World, such as shells, mother of pearl and precious or semi-precious stones, were mounted in silver gilt to set off their beauty and flaunt the knowledge of their owners. Being silver gilt greatly reduced the need to clean and polish them, for gold tarnishes far more slowly than silver. This reduced the risk of an object being damaged, and often gilded items have survived in better condition than their silver counterparts. I am delighted to introduce a beautiful selection of treasures from our collection that highlight the splendour of gilded silver. The collection of silver-gilt objects spans centuries, and each triumph of the decorative arts highlights not only the splendour and richness of gilded silver, but also reflects the socio-economic importance that it has always held. The Grenville-Temple Tazza made in London, 1701 by Anthony Nelme This footed salver which bears the coat-of-arms of Grenville accollé with Leofric quartering Temple would have graced the tables at Stowe House in Buckinghamshire at the time it was made. Its creator, the great Anthony Nelme was free of the Goldsmiths' Company in 1690 was elected to the court of assistants in 1703. He was made fourth warden in 1717 and then second warden in 1722. During the period of Huguenot prominence, Nelme was the leading English-born goldsmiths and was a signatory to the petitions to the Goldsmith Company wardens protesting the presence of the "necessitous strangers" in London. Queen Anne and the leading members of the aristocracy were some of Nelme's patrons. Among most of his important surviving works are a pair of forty-inch alter candlesticks of 1694 at Saint George's Chapel, Windsor (Honour 1971, p. 122), and a pair of pilgrim bottles of 1715 at Chatsworth. Here the gilded surface enhances the elegance and simplicity of an object that one finds in in so many old master still life paintings. Interestingly a salver was defined in 1661 dictionary as "a new peece of wrought plate, broad and flat, with a foot underneath, and is used in giving Beer or other liquid to save the Carpitt or Clothes from drops”. Thomas Lumley-Saunderson was elected without opposition as M.P. for Lincolnshire in 1727 and applied for a peerage as Lord Castleton's heir, but his request was unsuccessful due to King George II's reluctance to grant peerages. He joined the opposition and consistently voted against the government, frequently speaking on matters related to the army and foreign affairs. He was re-elected unopposed for Lincolnshire in 1734 and continued to align with the opposition. In 1737, he was among the Members of the House of Commons who were consulted by the Prince of Wales regarding an application to Parliament for an increase in his allowance. He expressed support and spoke in favour of the increase, which earned him the position of treasurer to the Prince in 1738. In 1740, he succeeded to the earldom of Scarbrough and with these two posts would have needed the most splendid and fashionable plate of the day.   Thomas Lumley-Saunderson, 3rd Earl of Scarbrough’s sauce boats, circa 1750 attributed to Nicholas Sprimont These sculptural sauceboats epitomise the high Rococo style popular in mid-18th century London and the close ties between the modelling of silver and porcelain at the time, with the interconnected business relationships between a small group of leading silversmiths working around Compton Street in Soho. A study of Sprimont’s oeuvre in silver shows a close relationship with fellow Huguenot silversmith Paul Crespin (1694-1770), whose workshop was also located in Compton Street. There is compelling evidence to attribute sauceboats of this form to either silversmith. A pair of sauceboats, almost identical to the present lot, with the mark of Crespin, hallmarked for 1746, are in the collection of The Sterling and Francine Clarke Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Beth Carver Wees, op. cit., p. 167 also notes that similar sauceboats were also produced by another Huguenot silversmith, Pezé Pilleau, whose son Isaac married a Jane Crespin, possibly Paul's daughter. A further set of four similar sauceboats marked by Crespin were sold at Christie’s, London on 26 March 1975, lot 73. It is thought that either Sprimont worked as a modeller for Crespin, prior to registering his own mark and setting up as an independent silversmith, or that there was an exchange of casts and models between the two, and indeed a wider circle of silversmiths, as shown by a pair of candlesticks by Sprimont of 1745, also in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which are identical to a pair by Paul de Lamerie, of 1747, sold Christie's, New York, 14 April 2005, lot 234. The influence of the French master silversmith François-Thomas Germain is evident from a sauceboat, once in the Portuguese Royal Collection, illustrated by Hartop, op. cit., p. 218, from G. Bapst, L'Orfèvrerie Français à la Cour de Portugal au XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 1892, pl. XIV, fig. 50. As Ellenor Alcorn points out, op. cit., p. 162, the links with Crespin are strong. Similar cast coral and shell ornament is found on a small teapot by Crespin of 1740, offered for sale at Christie's London, 3 March 1993, lot 247, now in the Hartman Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Alcorn also notes similar decoration on a Crespin coffee pot of the same year advertised by Spink in the Connoisseur in 1946. Crespin and Sprimont collaborated on the Prince of Wales's Neptune centrepiece. Although the piece is struck with Crespin's mark, the similarity with Sprimont's later work, including the other pieces by him for the Marine Service, has led scholars to include this piece in his list of works. Sprimont was involved with the Chelsea Porcelain Manufactory as early as 1745. He translated a number of his designs for silver into works in porcelain, such as the stand for the Rockingham Sauceboats, which are referred to as 'silver shape' in Ford's auction catalogue for the Chelsea Porcelain Manufactory held in 1755 and discussed by Dr. Bellamy Gardner in his article 'Silvershape in Chelsea Porcelain', published in The Antique Collector, August, 1937, p. 213. Further influence of silver designs on the porcelain of the time is shown by a Derby sauceboat in the Victoria and Albert Museum collection, illustrated by Hartop, op. cit., p. 218. The Rockingham set of four sauceboats and stands suggests Sprimont as the likely maker for the present lot; the sauceboats are similarly unmarked, however the stands are fully marked for Sprimont, London, 1746. A pair was sold in The Exceptional Sale, Christie's London, 22 July 2020, lot 42; a further pair is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.     The Earl of Grosvenor’s Triton Salt Cellars London, 1810 by Paul Storr.   The celebrated Paul Storr was one of the greatest silversmiths and businessmen to ever work in England and from 1807-1819 operated under the royal retailers Rundell, Bridge & Rundell. The reputation that Storr developed during his time was clearly evident and both the Prince Regent and King George III were great admirers and patrons. Of course, the aristocrats and fast-growing nouveau riche wanted to emulate what the king had at his table. The Royal Marine service was started in the 18th century and completed by Storr together with Rundell, Bridge and Rundell in the early 19th century. It is still used today by Charles III for state banquets. With England being an island, there was great symbolism in our navy’s importance and the protection of England by the waters surrounding us. Here with this magnificent set of eight triton salt cellars you see the Earl of Grosvenor following the fashions of the royal palace. The royal collection has a set of 24 with oval bases by Paul Storr also dating to 1810, and one is illustrated in Carlton House: The Past Glories of George IV's Palace, 1991, cat. no. 95, p. 133. How of the moment that the Earl of Grosvenor saw fit to commission this set of eight in the very same year. Perhaps the most iconic gilded object of all recorded pieces in the 19th century is the Shield of Achilles. The spectacular shield is the supreme example of early nineteenth-century English silver and is a triumphant collaboration between the great firm of Rundell and Bridge and the leading designer John Flaxman.  “The silver-gilt Shield of Achilles, designed and modelled by one of the greatest English sculptors of the regency, is an outstanding instance of a synthesis of the fine and decorative arts.  The designer, John Flaxman was the most illustrious of the Royal Academicians associated with Rundell, Bridge & Rundell ...” (Shirley Bury and Michael Snodin, ‘The Shield of Achilles by John Flaxman R.A., Sotheby’s Art at Auction 1983-4, 1984, pp. 274-83).    Flaxman was “the most famous British sculptor and the brightest star in the Rundell & Bridge firmament” (Christopher Hartop, see Literature, p. 104).  From 1805 he had been supplying the firm with drawings of figures and friezes which were then employed on various designs for large pieces of silver such as wine coolers and vases.  He actually modelled only one piece for the firm, however, the shield of Achilles.  Flaxman’s design is an interpretation of the shield wrought for Achilles by the god Hephaestus at the request of Thetis after Achilles lost his armour which he had lent to Patroclus; it having been seized as the spoils of war by Hector.  “Then first he formed the immense and solid shield           Rich various artifice emblazed the field”                                                           Alexander Pope’s translation of the Iliad   The Renaissance concept of massive display chargers or shields decorated with scenes celebrating great military triumphs had long been out of fashion but was revived by Philip Rundell and John Bridge by 1810, the year in which Flaxman submitted his first designs for this great project.  It was to be another seven years before the design was completed to his satisfaction.  In 1817 he made the model for the shield himself which was then cast in plaster. The artist Sir Thomas Lawrence was also presented with a plaster version of the shield. He admired and treasured it to the point he decided to mention Flaxman’s masterpiece in his eulogium to the latter describing it as “that Divine Work, unequalled in the combination of beauty, variety and grandeur, which the genius of Michael Angelo could not have surpassed”. Three or possibly more bronze versions were made and finished by the chaser William Pitts junior and finally in 1819 a silver version was made.  It was this shield which was then gilded and sold to George IV in 1821 to form the centrepiece for the buffet of plate at his coronation banquet.  Flaxman was initially paid one hundred guineas for ‘4 models and 6 drawings’ and in 1817 he received £200 on account and a further £525 in the following year (John Culme, Important Gold and Silver, sale, Sotheby’s, London, 3rd May 1984, lot 124).   Five silver-gilt shields in all were made. The first, mentioned above, which is in the Royal Collection and a further example which was acquired by Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and is now in the collections of the Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, California; both of these shields are marked for 1821-22.    Two further shields both marked for 1822-23 were sold to Hugh Percy, 3rd Duke of Northumberland in 1822 for £2,100 and to William Lowther, 2nd Earl of Lonsdale in 1823 and are in the collections of His Excellency Mohamed Mahdi Altajir and the National Trust at Anglesey Abbey respectively. The present shield which is marked for 1823-24 was sold to Ernst Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and later King of Hanover and for many years its existence was overlooked.   The reason for this shield being ‘lost’ springs from the belief that only four were actually made and in part this error must arise from the description by the German Ludwig Schorn of his visit in 1826 to the workshops of Rundell’s: “to the silversmiths Rundell & Bridge who kept a splendid shop not far from St. Paul’s on Ludgate Hill.  Here I was shown the shield of Achilles cast in silver and chased after a plaster model which Flaxman had executed to the King’s commission ... the shield has been cast The Shield of Achilles four times in silver for the king, the Duke of York, the Duke of Northumberland and Lord Lonsdale.  Gilded the article costs £2000, ungilded £1900” (exhibition catalogue, see Literature, pp. 30-31).  This gives the impression that only four shields were made although Schorn must have been looking at the fifth example which is the one sold to the Duke of Cumberland.  In 1911 E. Alfred Jones stated that an example had been made for the King of Hanover: “A shield of exactly the same design and of equal size but two years later in date is in the possession of the duke of Cumberland”.  Jones must have seen the shield as he makes it clear in the acknowledgements that he was given access to the Hanoverian royal collection.  Christopher Hartop realised that there were five shields but did not know of the whereabouts of the Cumberland shield in 2005. The shields were not made to a commission but were a speculative exercise and it would seem that this shield remained in Rundell’s shop on display as a magnificent testament to the supreme skills of their craftsmen and designers.  The company, who were excellent self-publicists, would have used the shield as an advertisement to maximum advantage.   It was probably sold to the Duke of Cumberland after his accession to the throne of Hanover in 1837 and probably in 1838 as attested by the inscription on the reverse of the shield.  The arms must have been engraved after 1839 as they incorporate the Order of St. George of Hanover which was instituted by Ernst Augustus in April 1839.   The new Hanoverian monarch acquired massive quantities of plate in 1838 amounting to over 180 kilos and including six thirteen light candelabra and two centrepieces.  This great display of plate would have played an important role in the establishment of the new king and the image of splendour that he wished to create for himself.  Unlike his brother George IV, he did not acquire plate for the specific occasion of his coronation. The shield appears in a photograph of the Hanoverian royal plate on display in Vienna in 1868.  There is no record of the sale of the shield but much of the Hanoverian royal plate was disposed of in 1923 after the death of Crown Prince Ernst Augustus II by the dealers and auctioneers Samuel and Max Glückselig of Vienna and Crichton Brothers of London and it is probable that it was sold at this time. Flaxman in his design adhered closely to the description given by Homer.  The design of the shield revolves around the central figure of the Apollo is his chariot of the sun.  The frieze, arranged in a succession of groups, depicts the marriage procession and banquet, the quarrel and judicial appeal, the siege and ambuscade and military engagement, the harvest, the vintage, the shepherds defending their herds of cattle from the attack of lions and a Cretan dance.  The great stream of the ocean is represented by the surrounding border.  Flaxman’s drawings for the shield are in the collections of the British Museum and what is believed to be the original cast for the shield is in the Sir John Soane Museum, London.    Allan Cunningham (The Lives of the most eminent British Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, 1833, vol. III) suggested that Flaxman used a translation of the Iliad when working on his design although this was contradicted by Maria Denman, Flaxman’s sister-in-law, who insisted that he had worked from the original Greek text. Hancocks at the Viena Exhibition 1873   The final piece that we present from our collection of silver-gilt objects is pure sculpture enhanced by the beauty of its gilding. Given how extraordinary this piece is in its nature, a complete unique commission that explores every aspect of craftmanship, design and execution of the goldsmith, it is most likely that piece formed part of Hancock’s display at the 1873 Vienna exhibition. Likely candidates for the modelling and design who worked closely with the firm Hancock & Co are: Raffaelle Monti (1818-1881) The son of the sculptor Gaetano Matteo Monti (1776-1847) of Ravenna and Milan, was something of a prodigy. In his late teens, when he was studying under his father and the sculptor Pompeo Marchesi (1790-1858), a former pupil of Canova, at the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera, Milan, he won several prizes including the Great Gold Medal for his group, 'Alexander Taming Bucephalus.' In 1838, having completed another colossal project, 'Ajax defending the body of Patroculus,' he was invited to go to Vienna to produce various busts for the Imperial family. Monti's sudden appearance as a widely known celebrity sculptor in the United Kingdom coincided with the display of his work in London at the Great Exhibition of 1851. Before that he had been known in England to only a select group of wealthy patrons, for one of whom, William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire (1790-1858), he had created in 1847 his celebrated 'Veiled Vestal. Henry Hugh Armstead RA (1828 – 1905) Henry Hugh Armstead was born in London in 1828 and received his earliest education in the workshop of his father John, a heraldic chaser. He studied at the Government School of Design at Somerset House from the age of thirteen before attending two privately-run drawing schools. Armstead was employed by the silversmiths Hunt and Roskell and Hancock &Co while at the same time working in the studio of sculptor Edward Hodges Baily and studying at the Royal Academy Schools. Until around 1863 he concentrated on metalwork, although the lack of recognition he received in this medium led him to turn to sculpture. After his sculptural work was noticed by the Gothic Revival architect George Gilbert Scott, Armstead was employed to create relief panels and other sculptural decorations for buildings including the Palace of Westminster, the Albert Memorial and the Colonial Office (now the Foreign and Commonwealth Office) on Whitehall. His sculpture anticipates the later New Sculpture movement which broadly rejected classicism in favour of realism. Armstead, who also produced numerous book and magazine illustrations, was elected as a Royal Academician in 1879 (his Diploma Work was a marble relief, The Ever-Reigning Queen). He took an active role in the work of the academy, teaching in the schools for many years and placing the sculpture in many RA exhibitions. He died at his house in London, in 1905. Both Armstead and Monti together with the architect Owen Jones also produced the ‘Tennyson Vase’ for the Paris 1867 Exhibition for Hancock’s which was purchased at the Exhibition by Napoleon III. The Goodwood Cup of 1866 and Armstead was again involved in the modelling of a Hancock presentation centrepiece commissioned by the Engineers of the Indian Service to the Royal Engineers in the same year as this magnificent ewer in the Vienna Exhibition 1873. An Exceptional Victorian Ewer 1873 by Charles Frederick Hancocks    

The Art of the Goldsmith at the Coronation.

07 August 2023

This year has seen the crowning of King Charles III and once more the art of the goldsmith and jeweller was at the heart of this historic ceremony. Central to this all are the Crown Jewels which are housed in the Tower of London. The Coronation Regalia are sacred and secular objects which symbolise the service and responsibilities of the monarch. The Regalia have played a central role in Coronation Services for hundreds of years and are held in trust by the Monarch on behalf of the nation. The two maces symbolising Royal authority 1660-1695 are carried at State Opening of Parliament. The Sword of State, symbolising Royal authority has a steel blade with a silver-gilt hilt, enclosed in a wooden scabbard which is covered in velvet. In 1660 and 1678, during the reign of King Charles II, two such swords were made, the elder of which has not survived. The remaining sword has been used at several Coronations and, in 1969, the Investiture of The Prince of Wales. The sword is carried with the point upwards, and the scabbard carries the coat of arms of King William III. Three further swords were used at the most recent Coronation for the Procession to Westminster Abbey: the Sword of Temporal Justice, signifying the Monarch’s role as Head of the Armed Forces, the Sword of Spiritual Justice, signifying the Monarch as Defender of the Faith, and the Sword of Mercy or Curtana, symbolising the Sovereign’s mercy. The swords were first used at the Coronation of King Charles I in 1626, and the steel blades date back to the sixteenth century, with early seventeenth century gilt-iron hilts, and wire-bound grips. The three swords are carried without their scabbards, with their points up. The golden St Edward’s Staff, with its steel spike, was created by the Crown Jeweller, Robert Vyner, in 1661. It derives from an earlier staff which was often referred to as the ‘Long Sceptre’ and carried in fifteenth and sixteenth century Coronation processions as a relic of the Royal saint, Edward the Confessor. The Chrism oil with which The King or Queen is anointed is consecrated in The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The oil is contained within the Ampulla, made from gold, and cast in the form of an eagle with outspread wings. The oil is poured through an aperture in the beak. The Ampulla was supplied for the coronation of King Charles II in 1661 by the Crown Jeweller, Robert Vyner, and is based on an earlier, smaller vessel, which in turn was based on a fourteenth-century legend in which the Virgin Mary appeared to St Thomas à Becket and presented him with a golden eagle and a vial of oil for anointing future Kings of England. The oldest of all the objects used at the coronation is the silver-gilt Coronation Spoon having been first recorded in 1349 among St Edward’s Regalia in Westminster Abbey and is the only piece of Royal goldsmiths’ work to survive from the twelfth century, having possibly been supplied to King Henry II (1133-1189) or King Richard I (1157-1199). It was used to anoint King James I in 1603, and at every subsequent Coronation. In 1649, the Spoon was sold to the Yeoman of King Charles I’s Wardrobe, who returned it for King Charles II’s Coronation in 1661, when small seed pearls were added to the decoration of the handle. The Coronation Spoon The Spurs were made in 1661 for King Charles II, but the use of spurs at Coronations dates back to King Richard I, the Lionheart, and his Coronation in 1189. The gold, leather and velvet Spurs symbolise knighthood, and they were altered in 1820 for King George IV. The Sword of Offering was made in 1820, and has a steel blade, mounted in gold, and set with jewels, which form a rose, a thistle, a shamrock, oak leaves, acorns, and lion’s heads. The sword is contained in a gold-covered leather scabbard. It was first used at the Coronation of King George IV. The two Armills are bracelets made from gold, champlevé and basse-taille enamel, lined in velvet, and are thought to relate to ancient symbols of knighthood and military leadership. They have been referred to during previous Coronations as the 'bracelets of sincerity and wisdom'. The Armills date back to 1661 and have been used at every Coronation from King Charles II’s until King George VI’s in 1937. A representation of the Sovereign’s power and symbolising the Christian world, the Sovereign’s Orb was made from gold in the seventeenth century and is divided into three sections with bands of jewels, for each of the three continents known in medieval period. The Sovereign’s Ring is composed of a sapphire with a ruby cross set in diamonds. A symbol of kingly dignity, the ring was made for the Coronation of King William IV in 1831, and all Sovereigns from King Edward VII onwards have used it at their Coronations. The Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross represents the sovereign's temporal power and is associated with good governance. It comprises a gold rod, surmounted by an enamelled heart-shaped structure which holds the Cullinan I diamond. The sceptre was created for King Charles II, and the Cullinan I was added in 1901. The Sovereign’s Sceptre with Dove, traditionally known as ‘the Rod of Equity and Mercy', represents the Sovereign’s spiritual role, with the enamelled dove with outspread wings representing the Holy Ghost. It was created by the Crown Jeweller, Robert Vyner in 1661. St. Edward's Crown   St Edward’s Crown was used to crown His Majesty the King. According to tradition, the crown was made for King Charles II in 1661, as a replacement for the medieval crown which had been melted down in 1649. The original was thought to date back to the eleventh-century royal saint, Edward the Confessor – the last Anglo-Saxon king of England. The crown was commissioned from the Crown Jeweller, Robert Vyner, in 1661. Although it is not an exact replica of the medieval design, it follows the original in having four crosses-pattée and four fleurs-de-lis, and two arches. The crown is topped with an orb and a cross, symbolising the Christian world, and is made up of a solid gold frame set with rubies, amethysts, sapphires, garnet, topazes, and tourmalines. The crown has a velvet cap with an ermine band. St Edward’s Crown was worn by Queen Elizabeth II at the Coronation in 1953. The Cross of Wales In time honoured tradition, this year saw the making of a new special ceremonial cross, The "beautiful and symbolic" Cross of Wales which lead the King's Coronation procession at Westminster Abbey. King Charles III received the cross as a personal gift from Pope Francis to mark his Coronation. In addition to these spectacular treasures is silver that often goes unnoticed. At the coronation of a monarch the canopies were traditionally carried by the barons of the Cinque Ports as a symbol of the role that they played in defending the king and the country.  Arthur Taylor (see Literature) described the barons’ claim was “... to carry over the king in his procession a canopy of cloth of gold or purple silk, with a gilt silver bell at each corner, supported by four staves covered with silver, four barons to every staff; and to carry a like canopy in the same manner over the queen”.  By the time this claim was formalised in a charter of Charles II, the number of barons had increased from four to thirty-two.  After the ceremony the barons were entitled to keep the canopies, bells and staves as a perquisite of their position, and they were allowed to dine at the table on the king’s right at the coronation banquet.   Samuel Pepys described the coronation of Charles II in great detail in his diary entries 22nd and 23rd April 1661 including the King’s entry into Westminster Hall “And the King came in with his crown on, and his sceptre in his hand, under a canopy borne up by six silver staves, carried by Barons of the Cinque Ports, and little bells at every end ... I observed little disorder in all this, but only the King’s footmen had got hold of the canopy and would keep it from the Barons of the Cinque Ports ...”.  It was recorded that there was scuffling between the barons and “those who would rob them of their treasures” at the coronation of George IV. The staves were usually converted into a piece of plate, as in this case.  This practice ceased after the coronation of George IV. Examples of the coronation bells of George I, II, III and IV are the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum and a bell, probably from the coronation of Charles I, was in the Albert Collection (Robin Butler, The Albert Collection, 2004, p. 304, no. 374).  A George III basket by Edward Aldridge bears the inscription that it was made with silver from a staff carried by John Dilnot at the coronation of George III (sale, Sotheby’s New York, 19th April 1991, lot 315). The Cinque Ports: Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich were granted privileges by the king in exchange for supplying ships and men to protect England’s vulnerable southern coastline.  They had to fulfil this obligation at times of war but they also had to make ships available to the king and his retinue when they wished to travel to the continent.  This relationship which probably existed earlier was formalised in a charter of 1260 although the towns were already known as the Cinque Ports by the latter half of the twelfth century.  Rye and Winchelsea became part of the group of ports at a later date. Koopman Rare Art and now at the Victorian and Alber Museum A Historic & Important James II Cup & Cover Silver-gilt                                                                                                                                                                                    Unmarked, circa 1685                                                                                                                                                                 Height: 5.1in, 13cm                                                                                                                                                                    Weight: 16oz 1dwt, 500g Provenance:                                                                                                                                                 J. Pierpont Morgan and thence by descent The cup stands on a cast circular gadrooned foot, the lower part of the body is applied with cut card work, the upper part is flat chased with chinoiseries and on one side with a coat of arms within a cartouche with an inscription below and a further inscription within a cartouche on either side, with two beaded handles, the reverse has a scene of figures carrying a canopy.  The stepped domed cover also has a gadrooned border and is applied with cut card work, with a spool finial. The inscription reads:” Hoc obtinui Ex in aug: Iac 2d Et Mar: Ap=23 85” and the motto:” Tria pocula Fero” – “I bear three cups; I obtained this from the coronation of James II and Mary, April 23, 1685”. The arms are those of Draper for Cresheld or Gawden Draper of Winchelsea. Cresheld Draper (d. 1693) was amongst those supporting the King’s canopy and Gawden Draper the Queen’s canopy at the coronation of James II.  Cresheld Draper of Crayford, Kent was M.P. for Winchelsea from 1678 to 1687. He married Sarah Gauden of Clapham, Surrey in 1665.  The inscription on the cup indicates that the cup was made from one of the silver staves used at the coronation which were one of the perquisites of the canopy bearers, the barons of the Cinque Ports, as described below.  The Jewel House Delivery Book (Public Record Office, London LC9/43) contains the entry: April ye 22th Delivered unto S. Benjamin Bathurst Knt. for theire Majties Coronation Twelve Large Canopy staves, crowned with silver 6 for his Majties & 6 for her Majties                                                                                                                                                                                                            oz           dt Canopy                                                                                poiz                        369:        10:          0 It 8 gilt Bells 4 each Canopy                                                                                061:        15:          0 And received by mee A further entry of 29th April repeats the order with the comment “all which being claims of the Barrons of ye scinqke ports, for their attendance of the coronation.  I say recd by mee for ye use of ye said Barrons”. At the coronation of a monarch the canopies were traditionally carried by the barons of the Cinque Ports as a symbol of the role that they played in defending the king and the country.  Arthur Taylor (see Literature) described the barons’ claim was “... to carry over the king in his procession a canopy of cloth of gold or purple silk, with a gilt silver bell at each corner, supported by four staves covered with silver, four barons to every staff; and to carry a like canopy in the same manner over the queen”.  By the time this claim was formalised in a charter of Charles II, the number of barons had increased from four to thirty-two.  After the ceremony the barons were entitled to keep the canopies, bells and staves as a perquisite of their position, and they were allowed to dine at the table on the king’s right at the coronation banquet.   Samuel Pepys described the coronation of Charles II in great detail in his diary entries 22nd and 23rd April 1661 including the King’s entry into Westminster Hall “And the King came in with his crown on, and his sceptre in his hand, under a canopy borne up by six silver staves, carried by Barons of the Cinque Ports, and little bells at every end ... I observed little disorder in all this, but only the King’s footmen had got hold of the canopy, and would keep it from the Barons of the Cinque Ports ...”.  It was recorded that there was scuffling between the barons and “those who would rob them of their treasures” at the coronation of George IV. In his article in Apollo Edward Perry (see Literature) noted that the staves were usually converted into a piece of plate, as in this case.  This practice ceased after the coronation of George IV. Examples of the coronation bells of George I, II, III and IV are the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum and a bell, probably from the coronation of Charles I, was in the Albert Collection (Robin Butler, The Albert Collection, 2004, p. 304, no. 374).  A George III basket by Edward Aldridge bears the inscription that it was made with silver from a staff carried by John Dilnot at the coronation of George III (sale, Sotheby’s New York, 19th April 1991, lot 315). The Cinque Ports: Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich were granted privileges by the king in exchange for supplying ships and men to protect England’s vulnerable southern coastline.  They had to fulfil this obligation at times of war but they also had to make ships available to the king and his retinue when they wished to travel to the continent.  This relationship which probably existed earlier was formalised in a charter of 1260 although the towns were already known as the Cinque Ports by the latter half of the twelfth century.  Rye and Winchelsea became part of the group of ports at a later date. Literature: Arthur Taylor, The Glory of Regality: An Historical Treatise of the Anointing and Crowning of the Kings and Queens of England, London, 1820 The Cinque Ports, Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, November 1900, vol. 168, p. 711-718 E. Alfred Jones, Illustrated Catalogue of the Collection of Old Plate of J. Pierpoint Morgan, 1908, p. 33, pl. XXIX Edward Perry, Gift Plate from Westminster Hall Coronation Banquets, Apollo, June 1953, vol. LVII, no. 340, p. 198-200   George II Canopy Bell   A rare silver-gilt George II coronation canopy bell by Francis Garthorne Made London circa 1727 height 7.1cm, approx. weight 7.3oz. Of conventional form, with a loop attachment and reeded borders, inscribed 'ONE OF THE BELLS BELONGING TO THE CANOPY BORN OVER KING GEORGE THE SECOND AT HIS CORONATION GIVEN TO THE LADY ELIZ GERMAIN BY THE HON. GEORGE BERKELEY HER BROTHER ONE OF THE BARONS OF THE CINQUE PORTS', Provenance:  The Hon. George Berkeley, d.1746 to Lady Elizabeth Germain, d.1769 by family descent to Col Sir Joseph Weld, Lulworth, Dorset, d.1992 by family descent to the present owner. Illustrated in Clayton, M., The Collectors Dictionary of the Silver and Gold of Great Britain and North America, Woodbridge, 1971, p. 34, fig. 33b. A small group of coronation bells survive today, of which the earliest example is thought to have been used at the coronation of King Charles II in 1660. Two coronation bells were bequeathed to the nation by the Countess of Waldegrave. The first is by Francis Garthorne, the maker of the present bell, and is hallmarked for 1714/15. However, it is engraved 'George 2nd 1727'. It has been suggested that it was first used at the coronation of King George I in 1714 and re-used at the coronation of his son in 1727. At the coronation of King George II, held on the 11th October 1727, the Canopy of State was carried by the members of parliament of the Cinque Ports. In his position as M.P. for Dover, the Hon. George Berkeley was appointed as a canopy bearer. This right was established during the reign of King Edward I as cited by Mantel, T., in Coronation Ceremonies and Customs, relative to the Barons of the Cinque Ports as Supports of the Canopy, Dover, 1820. Francis Garthorne: He is described as a Free Girdler in the entry of his hallmark. The Goldsmiths Hall records prior to 1694 have not survived but he is entered in a April 1697 as a largeworker on commencement of the register. Address: Sweeting Lane, he iso ne of the petitioners against 'aliens or foreigners in 1697 and again as 'working goldsmith' to that complaining of the competition of 'necessitous strangers in 1711. . After the return to the sterling standard in 1720 he reverts back to his pre-1697 mark on the evidence of its similarity to that described to George Garthorne for the same period. He appears in the list of Subordinate Goldsmiths to the Queen and King, 1702-1723.   The Koopman Rare Art Collection The Royal Shield of Achilles The King of Hanover’s Coronation Shield Made in London in 1823 by Philip Rundell for Rundell, Bridge & Rundell Diameter: 35 ¾ in (89.7 cm) Weight: 723 oz (22,490 g) This is the shield that sat behind King Charles III for the coronation dinner after the crowning at Westminster. It was created for the coronation of King Geoge IV in 1821. The spectacular shield of Achilles, the triumphant collaboration between the great firm of Rundell and Bridge and the designer John Flaxman, sits illustriously between history and mythology, destined to inspire generations through the myth of the hero Achilles. Although John Flaxman – the designer who shaped the Regency in England - had been supplying Rundell and Bridge with drawings since 1805, he modelled only one piece for the firm, the shield of Achilles.  Flaxman’s design is an interpretation of the shield given to Achilles by the gods after the demigod lost his armour which he had lent to Patroclus; it having been seized as the spoils of war by Hector.   The Renaissance concept of massive display chargers or shields decorated with scenes celebrating military triumphs had long been out of fashion but was revived by Philip Rundell and John Bridge by 1810, the year in which Flaxman submitted his first designs for this great project.  It was to be another seven years before the design was completed to his satisfaction. In 1817 he made the model for the shield himself which was then cast in plaster. Three or possibly more bronze versions were made and finished by the chaser William Pitts junior and, finally, in 1819 a silver version was made.  It was this shield which was then gilded and sold to George IV in 1821 to form the centrepiece for the buffet of plate at his coronation banquet. Five silver-gilt shields were made in total. The first, mentioned above, which is in the Royal Collection and a further example which was acquired by Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and is now in the collections of the Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, California; both shields are marked for 1821-22. Two further shields both marked for 1822-23 were sold to Hugh Percy, 3rd Duke of Northumberland in 1822 and to William Lowther, 2nd Earl of Lonsdale in 1823 which is now housed at Anglesey Abbey in the hands of The National Trust. The present shield which is marked for 1823-24 was sold to Ernst Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, and later King of Hanover. The shields were not made on commission but were a speculative exercise. The present one is of particular importance as it was the only one which remained in the premises of Rundell Bridge and Rundell on display as a magnificent testament to the supreme skills of their craftsmen and designers.  The company, who were excellent self-publicists, would have used the shield as an advertisement to maximum advantage.   one of Flaxman's most famous works - a realisation in Neoclassical terms of the shield of Achilles described in Homer's Iliad. The design had been commissioned from Flaxman by Rundell and Bridge; and between 1810 and 1818 Flaxman provided twenty-four drawings and five models. The finished work, executed in silvergilt in 1821, was bought by King George IV and displayed at his coronation banquet. Homer describes the shield of Achilles as modelled by Hephaestus from bronze, tin, gold and silver; and as showing the heavens, the earth at war, the earth at peace, and the Ocean surrounding all. Flaxman represents the heavens at the centre (Apollo in his chariot surrounded by the moon and stars), and the other scenes as a continuous narrative (not in separate compartments) - incorporating, in the Homeric order, a wedding procession, a town under siege, ploughing, reaping, the vintage with a boy singing, and shepherds defending their flock from lions. Homer implies the use of different metals and enamels, describing the vintage-scene, for example, as wrought in gold but with the grapes in black, the poles in silver and the ditch in blue; but these prescriptions were not followed by Flaxman and Rundell - from considerations of taste, craftsmanship or expense. Flaxman's design may be compared with that of Nicolas Vleughels, published in Volume V of Pope's translation of the Iliad (1720). The text, the 'Description Of The Shield Of Achilles', presents Homer's ancient Greek text (from Iliad 18:477-607), followed by translations in English, German and French (by Pope, Voss and Bitaubé respectively). The plates are captioned, and show parts of Flaxman's design, with a quotation from Pope's Homer. The title-page vignette is a portrait of Flaxman. The original work remains in the British royal collection. A plaster cast (1827) may be seen at the Royal Academy.  

The Genius of Piranesi and his Influence on English Silver

15 June 2023

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778) One of the greatest printmakers of the eighteenth century, Piranesi always considered himself an architect. The son of a stonemason and master builder, he received practical training in structural and hydraulic engineering from a maternal uncle who was employed by the Venetian waterworks, while his brother, a Carthusian monk, fired the aspiring architect with enthusiasm for the history and achievements of the ancient Romans. Piranesi also received a thorough background in perspective construction and stage design. Although he had limited success in attracting architectural commissions, this diverse training served him well in the profession that would establish his fame. Whether or not Piranesi studied printmaking in Venice, it is certain that soon after his arrival in Rome in 1740, he apprenticed himself briefly to Giuseppe Vasi, the foremost producer of the etched views of Rome that supplied pilgrims, scholars, artists, and tourists with a lasting souvenir of their visit. Quickly mastering the medium of etching, Piranesi found in it an outlet for all his interests, from designing fantastic complexes of buildings that could exist only in dreams, to reconstructing in painstaking detail the aqueduct system of the ancient Romans. The knowledge of ancient building methods demonstrated by Piranesi’s archaeological prints allowed him to make a name for himself as an antiquarian—his Antichità Romane of 1756 won him election to the Society of Antiquarians of London. Etching also provided Piranesi with a livelihood, allowing him to turn one of his favourite activities, drawing the ancient and modern buildings of Rome, into a lucrative source of income. By 1747, Piranesi had begun the work for which he is best known, the Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome), and he continued to produce plates for the series until the year of his death in 1778. Piranesi’s popular Vedute, which eclipsed earlier views of Roman landmarks through their dynamic compositions, bold lighting effects, and dramatic presentation, shaped European conceptions to such an extent that Goethe, who had come to know Rome through Piranesi’s prints, was somewhat disappointed on his first encounter with the real thing. Piranesi’s willingness to embrace the profession of printmaking was conditioned by his ties to Venice, the only city in eighteenth-century Italy where the greatest artists turned their hands to etching. Piranesi returned to his native city twice in the mid-1740s, the very years in which Canaletto was producing his luminous etched views of Venice and Tiepolo was at work on his novel series of etchings, the Scherzi and the Capricci—long recognized as an inspiration for the sketchy improvisation of Piranesi’s Grotteschi. The series of labyrinthine prison interiors, the Carceri, was also created soon after Piranesi’s encounter with the lively printmaking scene in Venice. In these prints, Piranesi explored the possibilities of perspective and spatial illusion while pushing the medium of etching to its limits. Given his admiration for Rome and his contentious nature, Piranesi could hardly refrain from entering the debate at mid-century over the relative merits of Greek and Roman art. Here, too, etching served him well as a means of supporting his arguments. His Delle magnificenza ed architettura de’ Romani of 1761 advanced the view, shared by other scholars, that the Romans had learned not from the Greeks—as British and French scholars had begun to argue—but from the earlier inhabitants of Italy, the Etruscans. Piranesi used his knowledge of ancient engineering accomplishments to defend the creative genius of the Romans but devoted even more space to a celebration of the richness and variety of Roman ornament. While Piranesi championed the art of Rome, he was not indifferent to the charms of Greek art, nor to that of the Egyptians, as is evident from his fanciful design for an Egyptian fireplace or his decorative scheme for the walls of the Caffè degli Inglesi, the British cafe located in the Piazza di Spagna. In his preface to the Diverse maniere d’adornare i cammini of 1769, which includes both of these etched plates along with designs in the Etruscan, Greek, Roman, and even Rococo styles, Piranesi argued for the complete freedom of the architect or designer to draw on models from every time and place as an inspiration for his own inventions. Piranesi’s etchings of his eclectic mantelpiece and furniture designs circulated throughout Europe, influencing decorative trends, and even functioned as a sales catalogue to advertise the objects he fashioned from ancient remains. Some of the fireplace designs included in the Diverse maniere were actually executed under Piranesi’s direction, utilizing antique fragments discovered in recent excavations. The restoration of such fragmentary remains, a process that ranged from simply providing an ancient Roman vase with a suitable antique base to such elaborate assemblages as the Newdigate candelabrum, became a new business for Piranesi. Piranesi’s unique opportunity to exercise his creative genius on a monumental scale occurred during the reign of the Venetian pope Clement XIII (1758–69), when the papal nephew, Cardinal Rezzonico, assigned him two major architectural projects. Although Piranesi’s elaborate designs for the apse of the Lateran Basilica were never realized, he was able to apply his original conception of ornament to the renovation of the church of the Knights of Malta on the Aventine, Santa Maria del Priorato, which included an impressive ceremonial piazza enclosed by obelisks and trophies. It seems that the artist’s tireless devotion to his work and his identification with the grandeur of Rome never flagged, for on the day of his death, Piranesi reportedly refused to rest saying that repose was unworthy of a citizen of Rome, he spent his last hours busy among his drawings and copperplates. Vasi, Candelabri, Cippi, Sarcofagi, Tripodi, Lucerne, Ed Ornamenti Antichi Disegn Ed Inc Dal Cav. Gio. This print is from a series of etchings made by Piranesi documenting antiquities excavated in Italy in the 18th century many of which had passed through Piranesi’s restoration workshop which he had established in Rome. The plates that Piranesi produced included text with information on the circumstances of discovery of each object and their contemporary location. The prints also bore dedications to Piranesi’s patrons and influential friends. This etching was dedicated to His Excellency, Signor General Schouvaloff, the Russian connoisseur, although the text is missing from this example. The etchings were made between 1768 and 1778 when they were issued as separate plates. However, in 1778 they were assembled and published as a collection in two volumes under the title Vasi, Candelabri, Cippi, Sarcofagi, Tripodi, Lucerne Ed Ornamenti Antichi. The vase in this etching is known as the Medici vase and at the time of publication was in the Galleria delle Statue in the Villa Medici. It is now in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. It is believed to have been made about AD 50 to 100 and shows in carved relief the sacrifice of Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon, King of Mycenae. Iphigenia is flanked by the figures of Ulysses and Agamemnon. Alongside Piranesi’s other publications, the series of prints published in Vasi…had a major influence on the development of the neo-classical style and served as source material for many architects and designers. In particular Piranesi was well known among wealthy English visitors to Rome who were frequent visitors to his workshop and who used the Grand Tour to add to their collections of antiquities. His prints not only showcased his technical mastery but also revolutionized the understanding and appreciation of architectural and decorative motifs from ancient civilizations. Piranesi's prints primarily focused on architectural subjects, particularly the ruins of ancient Rome. His meticulous attention to detail and his ability to capture the grandeur and magnificence of these architectural remnants made his prints highly sought after by collectors, architects, and designers of the time. These prints were not only accurate representations but also imaginative interpretations of ancient Roman structures. Piranesi employed dramatic lighting, exaggerated perspectives, and intricate detailing to create a sense of awe and monumentality in his prints. The "Views of Rome" series, with its exploration of ancient architectural forms, had a significant impact on the decorative arts. It influenced the Neoclassical movement, which emerged in the late 18th century and sought to revive the aesthetics of ancient Greece and Rome. The prints provided a rich source of inspiration for architects, interior designers, and craftsmen who sought to incorporate classical motifs into their creations. The grandeur and richness of Piranesi's prints served as a reference for the scale, proportion, and ornamentation of decorative elements. An imaginary view showing examples of ancient Roman decorative styles. The intricate details and decorative motifs found in his prints were often adapted and incorporated into the design of furniture, textiles, ceramics, and other decorative objects. The elaborate ornamentation, such as foliate motifs, mythical creatures, and architectural elements, became popular decorative motifs in the decorative arts of the time. Furthermore, Piranesi's prints played a crucial role in shaping the perception and understanding of ancient architecture. His interpretations of ancient Roman ruins presented a romanticized and idealized vision of the past. This romantic notion of antiquity, influenced by Piranesi's prints, permeated the decorative arts, as well as literature and visual arts of the time.   Vasi, Candelabri, Cippi, Sarcofagi, Tripodi, Lucerne, Ed Ornamenti Antichi Disegn Ed Inc Dal Cav. Gio. Batta. Piranesi, pubblicati l’anno MDCCLXXIIX.   One of the plates that Piranesi produced including text with information on the circumstances of discovery of each object and their contemporary location: A. Part of the Frieze and Architrave of the Temple of Antonino, and of Faustina in Campo Vaccine B. Lustral vase found in the excavations of Villa Adriana in the year m. by Mr. Cav. Dom. de Angelis Tivolese: It can be seen with Mr. Cav. Henry Blundell in England. C. Ancient metal candlestick owned by His Excellency Duke Gaetani. D. Tile, and Frieze E. Ancient, which can be seen in the Museo del Cav. Piranesi. F. Lantern of terracotta, et al & metal, which are conserved in the Kircher Museum H. Ancient Lantern, which can be seen by His Excellency Mr. Cav. Hamilton Ambassador of England in Naples. I. Colossal statue of the river Reno, which once stood in the ancient Foro di Marte in Campo Vaccino, and nowadays it exists in Campidoglio, located in the courtyard of the museum. K. Ancient vase owned in England by Mr. Riccardo Hayward. This last group of plates had a huge influence on the decorative arts and in particular silver items produced in the late 18th and early 19th century. Many of the treasures produced bore a direct link to the items found in the prints. Here are a few examples, currently in the Koopman Rare Art Collection that illustrate the influence of Piranesi:   A Pair of 19th Century Regency Sugar Urns or Vases Koopman Rare Art Collection by Paul Storr London, 1816 Weight: 51 oz. (1617gr.) Height: 7 5/8 in. (19.4cm.) Sugar Urns with classical urn form cast with bands of scrolling foliage, serpent hoop handles, leaf and dart base rims, bud finials, the rims engraved with 1817 presentation inscription, fully marked and with stamped number 853. The inscription reads, "The Gift of Maria F. Heathcote to Thomas Freeman Heathcote 1817." The source of the design for these sugar vases is a Roman urn in the celebrated antique sculpture collection of the 1st Marquess of Lansdowne, identified by David Udy in Piranesi's Vasi, the English Silversmith and his Patrons, Burlington Magazine, December 1978, p. 837, fig. 55-57. Unlike the Warwick Vase, which had been popularized by Piranesi's engravings of the Eighteenth Century, the Lansdowne urn apparently was reproduced directly in silver before John Duit engraved it around 1813. The design in silver is attributed to the sculptor John Flaxman, who used a variation of the urn in his tomb monument for Sir Thomas Burrell in 1796. Flaxman became Rundell's most important designer around the time the firm became Royal Goldsmiths in 1804. Many examples are known, including a set of eight by Benjamin and James Smith, 1808, in the Royal Collection. A set of four by Paul Storr, 1816-17, with the crest of the Dukes of Norfolk, is in the Jerome and Rita Gans collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (cat. no. 45).   Giovanni Battista Piranesi found at the Pantanello, Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli, in 1770 (The "Warwick Vase"), 1773-78   A George IV Silver-Gilt Warwick Vase Koopman Rare Art Collection London in 1821 Made by Paul Storr Weight: 172 oz 5 dwt, 5361.5 g Length over handles: 14½in., 36.8 cm The Warwick vase The Warwick Vase, an ancient Roman marble vase with Bacchic ornament that was discovered at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli about 1771 by Gavin Hamilton,  a Scottish painter-antiquarian and art dealer in Rome, and is now in the Burrell Collection near Glasgow in Scotland. The vase was found in the silt of a marshy pond at the low point of the villa's extensive grounds, where Hamilton had obtained excavation rights and proceeded to drain the area. Hamilton sold the fragments to Sir William Hamilton, British envoy at the court of Naples from whose well-known collection it passed to his nephew George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick, where it caused a sensation.     A Pair of Geo IV Warwick Vase Caviar / Wine Coolers Koopman Rare Art Collection London, 1821 Maker’s mark of Paul Storr Weight: 6,740 g Height: 19.5 cm, 7.6 in Width: 22 cm, 8.6 in       The Victoria and Albert Museum collection formerly with Koopman Rare Art The Hamilton-Beckford Candlesticks A highly important pair of George III silver-gilt candlesticks after a roman 1st century bronze lampstand Mark of Charles Aldridge, London, 1787 Each on three matted claw feet with fluted knees above supporting a broad detachable circular plate chased with palm foliage border and inner bands of arcading and alternate panels of differing formal foliage, the detachable fluted stem rising from fluted plinth and of shaped square section, the detachable baluster upper part of the stem and vase-shaped socket chased with further bands of fluting and varying foliage, the detachable circular wax-pan with fluted and ovolo bands, fully marked on lower plates, part-marked on reverse of sockets and on wax-pans 21 3/8 in. (54.3 cm.) high 85 oz. 10 dwt. (2,020 gr.) (2) Provenance: William Beckford, MAGNIFICENT EFFECTS AT FONTHILL ABBEY, WILTS; Christie's, 8-17 October 1822 (sale cancelled), either Lot 44 or 45: 44. A PAIR of CANDELABRA of SILVER CHASED and GILT, supported on feet shaped as Lizards These superb pieces of Plate are truly in classical taste, being executed from the design of a candelabrum found at HERCULANEUM 45. A PAIR of DITTO William Beckford, The Unique and Splendid effects of Fonthill Abbey; the extensive assemblage of costly and interesting property, which adorns this magnificent structure; Phillips, 23 September-22 October, 1823, either lot 1544 or 1545, with almost identical descriptions and footnote to those in the Christie's catalogue above, located in The Grand (Damask) Drawing Room, No. 24 and sold as one lot for £105.15 to Broadway. One pair of the two above: Richard Plantagenet Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, 2nd Duke of Buckingham (1823-1889). The contents of STOWE HOUSE, near Buckingham, Christie's 15 August-30 September, 1848, lot 783, under the heading GILT 783. A pair of very elegant candelabra, on tripod feet-after those from Herculaneum-from Fonthill 86 ozs. (£98.18s to ?Nathan Jnr.). Literatue: M. Snodin and M. Baker, 'William Beckford's Silver II,' The Burlington Magazine, December, 1980, p. 827, under the heading 'English Silver probably or certainly contemporary', no. E3 where the buyer at the Stowe sale is given as S. Peto, M.P. Related literature: The Roman original (British Museum Reg.1772.3-4.59) is discussed in: P. F. d'Hancarville. MS Catalogue des antiquités recueillies, depuis l'an 1764 jusque vers le milieu de l'année 1776 par Mr. Le Chevalier Guillaume Hamilton, acquises par Acte du Parlement en 1772 et maintenant déposéés dans le Muséum Britannique, London 1778, vol. 1, p. 301A. E. Hawkins, MS Catalogue of the Bronzes in the British Museum, vol. III, p. 166. D. Bailey, et al, A Catalogue of the Lamps in the British Museum, London, 1996, vol. IV, pp. 91-2, no. Q. 3867, pls. 102 and 103 (schematic drawing). D'Hancerville (op. cit.) says, in translation, of the original Roman lampstand, which he calls a candelabrum 'close to six foot high', that 'there does not exist at Herculanum [sic] any other as beautiful, nor one which is more perfectly conserved.' This is included in a list in two volumes of the first collection of antiquities formed by Sir William Hamilton, envoy to the Court of Naples from 1764-1800, which was sold to the newly established British Museum following an act of Parliament in 1772 to raise the £8,400 necessary for the purchase. SPECIAL NOTICE Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803) Sir William was a passionate collector of antiquities but also one who 'took seriously his part in the traditional role of the enlightened British aristocracy as patrons of the arts and as promoters of good taste in contemporary manufacture. The sale of the first collection to the British Museum in 1772 was more than a mere financial transaction, for it formed part of a life long mission to raise British, indeed European consciousness in what are now called the decorative arts.' (I. Jenkins " 'Contemporary Minds' Sir William Hamilton's affair with Antiquity", in the exhibition catalogue, Vases and Volcanoes, London, 1996, p. 59). Apart from his collections of Greek and Roman vases, cameos and bronzes Sir William also owned, at least for a short time, the celebrated Portland and Warwick Vases. He applied for his official position in Naples largely in the hope that it would be beneficial for his wife, Catherine's health. While there they naturally played host to a stream of wealthy and artistic visitors from across Europe which included Mozart and Goethe as well as his second cousin, William Beckford in 1780 and, shortly before Lady Hamilton's death, again in the summer of 1782. A year after Hamilton's return to England in 1799 he, his second wife, Emma and Admiral Lord Nelson spent Christmas as Beckford's guests at Fonthill. Only the St. Michael Gallery had been completed but the effect must have been breathtaking, 'illuminated', as it was, 'with a grand display of wax lights, on candlesticks and candelabras of massive silver-gilt exhibiting a scene at once strikingly splendid and awfully magnificent' (The Gentleman's Magazine, LXXI, p.298). Charles Aldridge, the Silversmith (w. 1766-1793) Normally one would expect the silversmith to use a print source for the design of such unusual objects and several illustrations of Roman lampstands from the second half of the 18th century are known, most notably those that appear in the last of eight volumes of Le Antichitá di Ercolano Esposte, Naples, 1757-92. Indeed, a generation after these candlesticks were made, a pair of ormolu torchéres, now in the Royal collection, were supplied to the Prince Regent. They are described in Rundell's bill of 1811 as being 'after those found in the ruins of Herculaneum' and are based on two images illustrated in this important work (pl. LXXI, the base on p. 77, the socket on p. 92; the Regency torchéres are illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, Carlton House, The Past Glories of George IV's Palace, London, 1991-2 p. 91, no. 43). However, the present candlesticks appear to be based directly on the original Roman bronze lampstand which was available of course as a prototype for study at the British Museum in London. The silversmith Charles Aldridge was apprenticed to Edward Aldridge, presumed to be his uncle, in 1758. He entered his first mark in partnership with Henry Green in 1775 and a second mark alone in 1786. He has followed faithfully the ornament of the Roman original in producing these candlesticks, which are almost exactly a third of the size of the prototype. Allowing for the change of use to a candlestick, the construction with detachable tripod foot, circular plate, distinctive fluted and fourfold stem of cross-shape section and detachable crater-shaped top also follows that of the Hamilton lampstand. The main variations are in the feet that have metamorphosed from lions' paws to lizards' claws and their profile which has been altered, presumably because of the lighter load they have to carry in the 18th century version. In addition an extra baluster has been removed beneath the socket and the flat top of the original has been replaced by a detachable nozzle to reflect the change of function. Charles Aldridge is not particularly noted for the originality of his designs. Much more typical of his work is the teapot he made with Henry Green for William Beckford in 1782 now at Brodick Castle (T. Schroder, et al, Beckford and Hamilton Silver from Brodick Castle, London, 1980, no. B11). It is also of interest that the maker James Aldridge who produced so many of the most imaginative mounted pieces for Beckford from circa 1815-1823 was apprenticed, and surely related, to Charles Aldridge. William Beckford (1760-1844) William Beckford and the silver he ordered has been studied in great detail by Michael Snodin and Malcolm Baker (op. cit.) and the former in 'William Beckford and Metalwork' in the exhibition catalogue William Beckford 1760-1844, An Eye for the Magnificent, New York, 2001, pp. 203-215. His early purchases tend to be standard if sometimes exceptionally well-designed examples of domestic silver which he seems frequently to have taken with him on his extensive travels. While Beckford was mainly in Lisbon in 1787 it is known that a considerable amount of furnishing was underway at Fonthill House, later known as Fonthill Splendens, that summer being mainly designed by the architect John Soane (William Beckford, 1760-1844, op. cit. p.60). It seems reasonable to assume that Beckford, given the extraordinary originality of his later silver purchases, specially commissioned these remarkable candlesticks rather than acquiring them second hand. Even without the Beckford connection these candlesticks are of exceptional interest. They are based directly on an identifiable object sold with the intention of providing prototypes to the artists and artisans of his day, by Sir William Hamilton in 1772 to the British Museum where it remains.     A Pair of Large Candelabra for Five Lights Silver-gilt London, 1817-18 Maker’s mark of Paul Storr Height: 32.5 in, 82.5 cm Weight: 1,167 oz 15 dwt, 36,317 g The foliated and scrolled branches spring from an acanthus vase, the candle-sockets being vase-shaped. The stem is a concave fluted drum, with acanthus edges. Two large griffins, and two tripod vases with serpents, stand on a plain base, which rests on four feet enriched with shells and vines. The Royal arms of George III are engraved on the base, the badge of George IV as prince of Wales on the stem. Under the base is a plate engraved with the same royal arms reversed to reflect in the plateau. From the Royal Collection of Silver & Gold at Windsor Castle.

European Renaissance Silver

19 May 2023

The Renaissance period in Europe, spanning roughly from the 14th to the 17th century, witnessed a significant increase in the production, trade, and use of silver. Several major influences contributed to this, including economic factors, technological advancements, exploration and colonization, and the patronage of wealthy individuals and institutions. One of the primary drivers of the increased silver production was the growing economic prosperity of Europe. The period saw the rise of powerful city-states, such as Florence and Venice, which became centres of commerce and banking. The expanding trade networks, both within Europe and with other regions like Asia and the Americas, created a greater demand for silver as a medium of exchange. An Elizabeth I Silver Tazza London, 1571   The remarkable advancements in mining, refining, and minting techniques, significantly boosted production. Innovations like the adoption of hydraulic-powered machinery, such as water wheels and pumps, improved the efficiency of mining operations. Refining techniques were also improved, allowing for the extraction of higher purity silver. This in turn increased the overall supply of silver, making it more accessible for various purposes. The Age of Discovery, starting in the late 15th century, opened new avenues for silver. European explorers and colonizers ventured into the Americas, where they discovered vast reserves of silver, particularly in regions like Mexico and Peru. The influx of American silver into Europe, known as the "Silver Drain," led to a significant increase in the availability of the metal, contributing to economic growth and inflation. This era was characterized by a flourishing culture of patronage, with wealthy individuals, nobility, and the Church investing in art, architecture, and luxury goods. Silver, with its intrinsic value and aesthetic appeal, became a favoured material for creating elaborate and ornate objects. Silverware, tableware, jewellery, and other decorative items were produced to showcase the wealth and refinement of the patrons. This demand for luxury items further stimulated this prosperous market. The development of modern banking and monetary systems, with silver coins playing a crucial role further influenced production too. Many European states standardized their coinage, minting silver coins of consistent weight and purity. These coins facilitated domestic and international trade, enhancing economic activity. The silver content of coins was carefully regulated to maintain their value and prevent debasement, contributing to the stability of currencies. England During the period 1600–1800, the production of silver in Great Britain and Ireland served a growing class of people who could afford such objects, from magnificent pieces like the illustrated Elizabethan tazza 1571, to more ordinary tablewares and personal items such as punch bowls, spoons, and snuffboxes. Economic, political, and social conditions determined the appearance and cost of silver objects made for domestic, court, and public use. From James I to George III, silver styles reflected the policies and aesthetic preferences of the sovereign: the conservatism of James in a period of high immigration of Protestants from the Continent, bringing with them skills and designs in favour there; the delicate and refined aesthetic sense of Charles I, illustrated here with this rather lovely wine cup of 1631; the puritanical outlook of Oliver Cromwell; the extravagance of Charles II and his protection of Huguenots arriving on English shores often destitute, whom he supported from the privy purse. At the same time, while London set fashions for the court and upper classes, silver continued to be made for people in ordinary walks of life, in styles that changed only slowly, represented by items such as tankards, mugs, candleholders, and the like. A Charles I wine cup London, 1631 Maker’s mark IH Spain Renaissance silversmithing in Spain played a significant role in the artistic and cultural development of the country during the 16th and 17th centuries. This period, known as the Spanish Golden Age, witnessed a flourishing of arts and craftsmanship, and silversmiths were highly valued for their skills in creating intricate and ornate silver objects. One of the notable centres was the city of Toledo, which had a long-standing tradition of metalwork, and its silversmiths gained international recognition for their exquisite craftsmanship. They produced a wide range of objects, including religious items such as chalices, monstrances, and reliquaries, as well as secular pieces like tableware, jewellery, and decorative objects. The silver was characterized by its attention to detail, fine craftsmanship, and the extensive use of decorative motifs. Silversmiths often incorporated intricate designs featuring religious symbols, mythological scenes, floral patterns, and heraldic elements into their creations. The pieces were often embellished with elaborate engravings, filigree work, and applied or cast decorative elements. The demand for silver objects was high as they were not only functional but also symbols of wealth and prestige. Silversmiths catered to the tastes of the Spanish nobility, religious institutions, and wealthy patrons, creating customized pieces that showcased their skill and creativity. Many pieces produced during this era bear the marks or signatures of renowned silversmiths, allowing for identification and appreciation of their work.   The influence extended beyond the domestic market. Spanish silver objects were highly sought after in Europe, and Spanish silversmiths often exported their creations to other countries. Their works were appreciated for their exceptional quality and innovative designs, which combined elements of Spanish traditions with influences from Italy, Germany, and other European centres. Notable silversmiths from this period include Juan de Arfe, whose workshop in Valladolid produced exceptional pieces; Juan Bautista Maino, who worked in Toledo and specialized in religious silverware; and Francisco de Alfaro, known for his skill in producing monstrances and custodial vessels. These artisans and others left a lasting legacy through their craftsmanship, contributing to the rich artistic heritage of Spain. The period is characterized by a blend of artistic influences from both the Italian Renaissance and the Islamic world, resulting in a distinctive and ornate aesthetic. The pieces often showcased intricate detailing and ornamentation, reflecting the grandeur and opulence of the period. The designs were heavily influenced by classical motifs, mythology, and religious themes. Elements such as acanthus leaves, grotesque masks, scrolls, pilasters, and balusters were commonly incorporated into the overall composition, creating a sense of dynamic movement and complexity. One of the notable characteristics was the extensive use of embossing and chasing techniques. These techniques involved hammering the metal from the reverse side to create a raised relief, and then refining the details with fine chisels and punches. The resulting designs were highly three-dimensional and displayed a remarkable level of skill. This is exemplified by the wonderful tazza from Palencia illustrated below. The pieces often incorporated precious and semi-precious stones, enamelwork, and gilding. Gemstones such as garnets, amethysts, and pearls were often set into the silver objects, adding a touch of colour and luxury. Enamelwork, which involved fusing powdered glass onto the metal surface, was used to create vibrant and intricate patterns, enhancing the overall visual appeal of the pieces. Gilding, the application of a thin layer of gold, was also employed to highlight certain areas and provide a rich golden glow. The artisans provided a wide range of objects, including ecclesiastical items such as chalices, censers, and reliquaries, as well as secular pieces like plates, bowls, ewers, and jewellery. These objects were not only functional but also served as status symbols, displaying the wealth and prestige of their owners. A Spanish parcel-gilt tazza Palencia, circa 1530   Germany Germany, with its rich history and flourishing trade centres, became a hub for artistic innovation, including the craft of silversmithing. The Renaissance period marked a rebirth of interest in classical art, culture, and craftsmanship. The city of Nuremberg in southern Germany emerged as a renowned centre. It boasted a vibrant guild system, which regulated and supported various crafts. The Nuremberg silversmiths' guild ensured high standards of craftsmanship, protected the interests of its members, and encouraged innovation and creativity. Prominent silversmithing families, such as the Wenzels, Mannlichers, and Kilians, made substantial contributions to the craft. Their workshops produced masterpieces that combined technical skill with artistic expression. They often worked closely with other craftsmen, such as goldsmiths, engravers, and jewellers, to create collaborative pieces that showcased the diverse skills and expertise of different trades. Production flourished not only in Nuremberg but also in other prominent German cities like Augsburg, Frankfurt, and Cologne. These cities were major trading centres, attracting wealthy merchants and nobles who sought luxurious and finely crafted silverware to display their status and taste. The Reformation, led by Martin Luther in the early 16th century, had a significant impact on the practice of silversmithing in Renaissance Germany. Protestant ideals discouraged the veneration of religious relics, resulting in a shift in the demand for silver objects. While the production of religious items declined, silversmiths adapted by creating more secular objects, such as drinking vessels, decorative plates, and jewellery, catering to the changing tastes and preferences of their clientele.   An Important 16th Century Silesian Tankard Neisse, circa 1570 Maker’s mark of Hans Schmidt   The silver is characterized by its intricate and ornate design, reflecting the artistic and cultural developments of the renaissance period in Germany. This style emerged in the 16th century and was influenced by the broader European Renaissance movement. The pieces often exhibit a combination of Gothic and Renaissance aesthetics. They showcase an exquisite level of craftsmanship and attention to detail, featuring intricate engravings, embossing, and chasing techniques. These techniques were used to create elaborate patterns, scenes, and motifs inspired by classical mythology, biblical stories, nature, and historical events. One of the notable features is its sculptural quality. Many pieces were crafted in three-dimensional forms, such as cups, tankards, and figurines. These objects often incorporated sculptural elements like figurative handles, relief work, and statuettes, adding depth and dimension to the overall design. As seen in the tankard by Hans Schmidt illustrated above. The decorative motifs included acanthus leaves, scrolls, strapwork, grotesque masks, heraldic elements, and allegorical figures. These motifs were intricately intertwined and arranged in symmetrical compositions, creating a sense of harmony and balance. The silversmiths were known for their technical expertise and innovative approach. They employed various techniques like repoussé or embossing (hammering the silver from the reverse side to create raised relief), chasing (engraving intricate designs onto the silver's surface), and filigree work (delicate wirework) to achieve intricate and richly detailed designs. The surface of the silver was often gilded, giving the pieces a golden hue and enhancing the visual impact of the elaborate designs. Gilding also served to protect the silver from tarnishing and added to the luxurious appeal of the objects. Scandinavia Scandinavian renaissance witnessed a resurgence of interest in classical antiquity and a renewed focus on humanism, exploration, and trade. These historical developments had a significant impact on the design and craftsmanship of silver objects. The Hanseatic League, a powerful trading alliance of merchant guilds, played a crucial role in shaping Scandinavian silver. The league facilitated trade between northern Europe, including Scandinavia, and the rest of the continent. This led to an exchange of ideas, techniques, and designs, with influences from German, Dutch, and other European silversmithing traditions. The influence of Christianity was also pervasive during this period, and religious themes were often depicted in the silverware. Crosses, saints, biblical scenes, and other religious motifs were commonly found in the designs, reflecting the strong influence of the Church and the spiritual beliefs of the time. Additionally, this period celebrated a renewed interest in nature and the natural world. Inspiration was drawn from botanical elements, such as flowers, leaves, vines, and fruits. These motifs were often intricately detailed and incorporated into the design of silver objects, reflecting the beauty and abundance of the natural world. The royal courts in Scandinavia played a significant role in promoting and supporting the arts. Kings and queens commissioned pieces to showcase their wealth, power, and refined taste. The designs often featured royal coats of arms, monograms, or portraits of the ruling monarchs, highlighting their patronage, and emphasizing their status. There were also regional variations in style and design. Sweden, Norway, and Denmark each had their distinctive silversmithing traditions, influenced by their respective cultural identities and local aesthetics. For example, Danish silverwork was known for its elaborate embellishments and intricate engravings, while Swedish silver was characterized by a simpler, more restrained style. Scandinavian craftsmen were not isolated from the broader European artistic developments. They were influenced by the prevailing artistic trends, such as the Italian Renaissance and the Northern Renaissance. These influences can be seen in the use of ornamental motifs, the incorporation of classical elements, and the adoption of new techniques and styles. Norway This era in Norway was characterized by a revival of classical art forms and a renewed interest in humanism, science, and exploration. Norwegian silverwork is known for its intricate detailing and a blend of local and international design elements. It combines traditional Norwegian motifs with influences from other European countries, particularly Holland, Germany, and Denmark. The motifs often draw inspiration from nature, mythology, and Christian symbolism. Common themes include mythical creatures such as dragons and griffins, floral patterns, foliage, scrolls, and biblical scenes. These motifs are intricately woven into the overall design, creating a sense of harmony and balance. These objects, including drinking vessels, bowls, spoons, candlesticks, and jewellery often feature elegant shapes, ornate handles, and elaborate feet or bases. The handles are sometimes shaped like mythological creatures or twisted and decorated with engraved patterns. The surfaces were usually embellished with a combination of embossing, engraving, and niello work. The niello created a striking contrast against the silver background.   A Norwegian 17th Century Octagonal Peg Tankard Bergen, circa 1650 Maker’s mark of Herman Wichman      

The Kildare Candelabra

10 February 2023

For the second time in the company's history, Koopman Rare Art is thrilled to present The Kildare Candelabra, a fabulous pair of Rococo masterpieces by George Wickes, succeeding the genius of Thomas Germain. At Koopman Rare Art, we take pride in having what we consider the finest silver available, and in presenting this pair of candelabra at the upcoming edition of TEFAF Maastricht 2023, we are sure to exhibit a genuine treasure. Please enjoy the hard work that has been put into this new catalogue created with the brilliant assistance of Dr Tessa Murdoch.  ,

The Madame Mère Inkstand

07 June 2022

As Masterpiece London 2022 approaches, we would like our customers and friends to discover the Jewel in the Crown of our exhibition: The Madame Mère Inkstand.   The Madame Mère Inkstand   Jean-Baptiste Claude Odiot Paris, 1812 As the name suggests, the Madame Mère inkstand was commissioned by Letizia Ramolino, Napoleon Bonaparte's mother, who later gifted it to her son, King Joseph, in 1812, as testified by the inside documents. 1812, the year of making, is a year of significance as it marks a critical transition in Napoleonic history. The French Empire was at its greatest extent in 1812. Having been crowned Emperor of France in 1804, the years between Napoleon's coronation and 1812 are defined by the historians as the years of the Napoleonic wars, as France was in constant conflict with the various European powers in an attempt to conquer them. On the battlefield, Napoleon experienced enormous success: France defeated the Austrians and the Russians in Austerlitz (1805), Prussia in Jena (1806) and Spain (1808) in the Iberian Peninsula. Then, believing himself invincible, Napoleon launched an offensive in Russia in 1812. However, the venture turned out to be a spectacular failure. In pursuit of the Tsar's army, which continued to retreat eastward, the French were annihilated by the severe Russian cold. Therefore, 1812 marks the peak of Napoleonic grandeur and the last year of the Bonaparte's' fortune, which is well represented by the splendour of this empire-style vermeil inkstand.  The oblong inkstand rests on four feet modelled as a lion's paws. The main body is decorated on the sides with bees inside wreaths of leaves. The bee was a recurrent symbol of the Empire Style: due to the industrious habits of the insect, Napoleon chose it as the emblem of his power. As a further representation of strength, the large front drawer is embellished with the image of an imperial eagle inside a stylised foliage frieze. The flat top of the inkstand is worked with a delicate flowery flat chasing, which involves hammering with small, blunt tools to give low-relief ornamentation. This technique was highly fashionable for silver decoration in Europe in the early 18th Century. Under the Empire, the ornamental repertoire followed the example of the classical world, whose rigour and perfection Napoleon sincerely appreciated and often commissioned in a presumptuous attempt to emulate the grandeur and splendour of ancient Rome. Therefore, two classical female figures are kneeling on top, each holding a cornucopia, one serving as an inkwell and the other as a pounce pot. The square plinth in the middle, applied with edges of foliage, is surmounted by a pinnacle shaped like an urn, above which sits the imperial eagle. A mechanism inserted inside this element opens a door in the pedestal to reveal a miniature portrait of Letizia Ramolino made by François-Juste-Joseph Sieurac. The inkstand presents strong similarities with a mustard vase in gilded silver preserved at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and made by Odiot. The female figure kneeling next to the jar and the feet in the shape of a lion's paws are almost identical. Furthermore, a salt cellar made by Odiot in gilded bronze and kept at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris presents an identical design. Moreover, a winged figure similar to the one applied on the plinth door is found in an engraving for a table lamp by Percier and Fontaine, from whose designs Odiot most likely derived many of his ideas.   Letizia Ramolino Bonaparte as Madame Mère Born in 1750, Maria Letizia was a member of the Ramolino, a noble family of Italian descent who had lived in Corsica for generations. In 1764, Letizia married Carlo Bonaparte, the son of a local family of similar origins, which ensured her financial security. The family's primary source of income was Carlo Buonaparte's work for Pasquale Paoli, a Corsican patriot, statesman and military leader, head of the resistance movements against the Genoese and French control of the island.  When, in 1768, the French armies landed in Corsica, Paoli's military forces and, therefore, Carlo Bonaparte, were called to fight. Despite being pregnant, Letizia accompanied Carlo to the front line. The event is memorable as, shortly after her return to Ajaccio, Letizia gave birth to her second son, Napoleon; his embryonic attendance on the battlefield contributed to the legend of the most famous character in European history. On February the 24th, 1785, Carlo Bonaparte died of stomach cancer. Overnight, Letizia became the lady of the house of a destitute family. However, as Napoleon would later state, Letizia "Had a man's brain in a woman's body" and found a way to provide for her family. In 1791, the Archdeacon Lucien, Carlo's uncle, who lived upstairs in Casa Bonaparte, died and left his inheritance to Letizia, granting her a comfortable life and allowing Napoleon to enjoy promotions and starting a career as a Corsican politician. Napoleon's rise was expeditious, and his fame and wealth were certainly shared and appreciated by Letizia, who received 60,000 francs, which allowed her to move to one of the best residences in Marseille. Although Napoleon provided for her, Letizia remained a dominant and pragmatic woman who never succumbed to the imposing figure of the son. Indeed, Napoleon feared and loved her mother in equal measure.  For instance, immediately after his imperial ascent, Napoleon granted his family titles, including "Prince of the Empire", to Joseph and Louis. However, Letizia was so upset about her "Madame Mère" - that she decided to boycott Napoleon's coronation by not attending.  To correct the wrong suffered by Napoleon, the painter Jacques-Louis David decided to insert Letizia in the famous representation of his coronation, now housed in the Louvre, representing her smiling as she watches her son ascending to the throne of France.   Jean-Baptiste Claude Odiot Jean Baptiste Claude was born in 1763 in Paris, France. He was a determined, independent, and stubborn young man who dreamed of serving his country as a soldier. By the age of 16, he had enrolled in the army already. His father, Jean Claude, would have liked one of his sons to inherit the Maison Odiot company which was founded in 1690 by his father. However, his children had different plans at the time, and Jean Baptiste was too distracted by the dream of becoming a general.  Still, soon enough, the long military campaigns, the distance from home and the failures led Odiot’s enthusiasm for the army to fade, and he started the apprenticeship with his father. On the 14th of December 1788, Jean Claude died after working side by side with his son for approximately two years. At the age of 22, Odiot found himself at the head of a goldsmith company during one of the most uncertain economic periods in the history of France. It was the prelude to the French Revolution, and vast quantities of silver were melted to meet the pressing demand from the army. Therefore, most goldsmiths had to reinvent themselves by producing ammunition or military badges. Jean Baptiste was one of the few goldsmiths in Paris to refuse to work for the army and decided to accept commissions from foreign collectors to continue a creative production instead. The long list of Odiot customers from this period included Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States and signer of the American declaration of independence. It was a prosperous period, albeit a relatively short one. In fact, on 15th September 1792, Paris passed a law banning the export of silver and other metals abroad. Many customers left the country in a few months, leaving debts to pay, thus condemning goldsmiths to bankruptcy. Fortunately, the Odiot family survived thanks to the possessions and sufficient fortunes accumulated in the previous decades. The French Revolution officially began, and Paris was torn apart by riots. Although not a revolutionary, Jean Baptiste was a man of action and joined the battles to serve France. According to historical sources, on the door of the Maison Odiot workshop, a sign would read: "this goldsmith is fighting the enemies of the fatherland". In 1792, Luis XVI and Marie Antoinette were sentenced to death while Napoleon began his brilliant  ascent. It is almost certain that, during the years of the revolts, Jean Baptiste had seen Napoleon in action, although the goldsmith could never have imagined that that young and thin general would have determined his fortune and his success in a few years. Once back in Paris, Odiot continued his goldsmith business in parallel with three other great names in goldsmithing in Paris: Roetties, Auguste and Cornu. Although the latter's style, influenced mainly by neoclassicism, was highly appreciated in the city, and their talent was enormous, Odiot belonged to the new generation of emerging artists. Odiot's talent and innovation involved many private commissions, which increased enormously following 1801 when he won a gold medal at the second Exhibition of French Industry Products in Paris. The gold medal also attracted the attention of Napoleon, who invited the 24 winners to a competition to expand the silver collection at the Tuileries Palace. Despite the meeting, official commissions arrived only after 1804 with the official coronation of Napoleon as Emperor.  Napoleon played a vital role in developing what will be termed by the Empire Style by art historians in France. The emperor became a patron of the arts during the years of his reign. He fostered the careers of numerous artists who catered to his desire for classicism in a presumptuous attempt to emulate the grandeur and splendour of ancient Rome. In the context of silverware, the artists who enjoyed the emperor’s attention were Biennais, Auguste and, indeed, Odiot. The number of employees grew to such an extent that, around 1805, Biennais' workshop had approximately 600 employees, historians estimate. Therefore, it is not surprising why Odiot, despite his success, nevertheless decided to join forces with the other two great names of the goldsmith in Paris: Biennais and Auguste. Despite the latter's fame, Odiot was the true star and the creator of all the major orders the group received. From 1806 onwards, Odiot's career became unstoppable. Odiot began to receive essential orders from Europe, where the new king of Bavaria, Maximilien I, required the French talent for his collection of gold and silver. According to historians, there is not a figure among those who shaped Nineteenth-Century history who was not a client of Odiot at some point. Odiot became one of the most prolific and successful exponents of the Empire style, which crystallised under the reign of Napoleon I. However, the genesis of this style can be traced back to the 1770s with the production of Jean-Vincent Huguet or to the foliage friezes of Antoine Boullier. Furthermore, the success of the designs of Percier, Fontaine and Prud'Hon certainly favoured the development of the Empire, a much more severe style than that of Louis XVI.  

Koopman's Royal Treasures

01 June 2022

In celebration of The Queen's Platinum Jubilee, we have put together a collection of eight Royal pieces. These Royal pieces are from reigns past of varying lengths, but none with the longevity of the Queen's extraordinary seventy.   King Charles II Reigned for twenty-five years from 1660 to 1685 Charles became King at the age of thirty. On the King’s return from hiding in Holland, he reinstated the splendour of the nation by adopting the elegant Dutch taste for chrysanthemums, tulips, and festoons of fruit in the ornamentation. The Dutch style is evident in the Royal wall sconces below. Each of the sconces presents a richly embossed background with lions and putti in relief and is partially applied with winged dragons emerging from masses of scrolling acanthus foliage. Adding to the rich decoration, each plain central panel is framed by palm leaf cartouches and applied above and below with the bust of Susanna, the Hebrew wife from the Book of Daniel.   A Highly Important Set of Royal Four Single-Light Wall Sconces Made in England around 1670 Height: 39.2cm, 15 ½ in Weight: 6446g, 207oz. 6dwt Prior to Charles' coronation, Sir James Mercer was made his Gentleman usher. His only son, Charles, was christened in June 1667 in the presence of his godfather, the King, whose gift of 80 ounces of gilt plate to mark the event is recorded in the Jewel Office warrant books in the National Archives. Writing afterwards to his father-in-law, Mercer recalled that "His Majesty on occasion was very jovial, without any sort of drinking". The elegant ewer below was part of that royal gift. Silver historian Christopher Hartop has attributed the maker's mark on this ewer to Henry Welch, an immigrant craftsman who worked for the royal household. The mark appears also on a pair of candlesticks in Lambeth Palace Chapel and on another one in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University. The cut-card detail on this ewer is incredibly early and display a strong French influence.   The Charles Mercer Ewer By Henry Welch Made in London around 1667 Height: 9 in (23 cm) Weight: 29 oz 5 dwt (914 g)   Queen Anne  Reigned for twelve years, from 1702 to 1714 Queen Anne was the first sovereign of Great Britain under the Acts of Union 1707, which united the crowns of England and Scotland into one country, creating the United Kingdom as we know it today. She was a great patron of the arts and was keenly interested in music, poetry, and theatre. She remodelled parts of the Royal Chapel and the Queen's Drawing Room of Hampton Court Palace in a grand baroque style.  The campana shaped sconces surmounted with a crown by Anthony Nelme below were made for Queen Anne, but the cypher was changed in circa 1810 for Queen Charlotte. The openwork foliate scroll royal cypher now reads 'CR' - Charlotte Regina, Queen and wife of George III - finished with a scallop shell at the bottom. Anthony Nelme was one of the most prominent silversmiths working in the Queen Anne Style, recognised for the high quality of his technical skill and artistry of design.    A Pair of Royal Wall Sconces By Anthony Nelme Made in London in 1713 Height: 52 cm, 20 ½ in. Weight: 2814 g, 90 oz 9 dwt.   King George II Reigned for thirty-three years from 1727 to 1760 George II became King at the age of forty-four. During his reign, his popularity fluctuated. Interestingly, George II fought alongside his soldiers at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743 in Germany, which made him the last sovereign on the battlefield. George II gifted the presentation dish below to Sir William Strickland (circa 1686-1735), 4th Baronet of Boynton, co. York, on the occasion of his son, George's, christening in March 1729.  The dish's centre is finely engraved with the Royal coat-of-arms of George II within a baroque cartouche flanked by supporters and above the motto DIEU ET MON DROIT. This would have been an ordinary gift from a monarch to a member of the Royal Household. Sir William Strickland succeeded to Baronet and, shortly after, became a Lord of the Treasury and Treasurer of the Queen's Household. A great friend of Sir Robert Walpole, Strickland, was chosen to replace Henry Pelham as Secretary at War in 1730 and was made a Privy Councillor, a position he held until his health forced him to retire in 1735.   A Royal Presentation Charger Made in London in 1729 By John Edwards II Diameter: 50.5 cm, 19 7/8 in. Weight: 3,555 g, 114 oz. 6 dwt     An Elegant Set of Three George II Casters Made in London in 1728 By Paul De Lamerie Weight: 854g, 30oz. Another extraordinary example of the George II style is embodied by these baluster-shaped Royal Casters, which feature the King's coat-of-arms. The casters present purity of form, exceptional gauge and quality, and intricate piercing, typical elements of the work of Paul de Lamerie.   King George III Reigned for Sixty Years from 1760 to 1820 George III became King at the age of twenty-two. Historically, this King is known for many reasons, the most important of which – for us - is his role as patron of the arts. In 1768, George founded the Royal Academy of Arts and, in 1760, commissioned the Gold State Coach, which will most likely see throughout the Jubilee.  The four Anthony Nelme Royal wall sconces you see above were first recorded in George III's silver inventory entitled 'A list of His Majesty's Plate in the Jewel Office, 18 February 1812’. Unfortunately, the sconces were among the considerable quantity of plate that the Prince Regent chose not to keep, so they were sold, ostensibly for melting, to Rundell, Bridge & Rundell. Like many other pieces in this group of the royal plate, however, Rundell disposed of them as part of their stock of second-hand and antique silver, a branch of their business which at that time was flourishing. Featuring the Coats of Arms of King George III is the 1817 Paul Storr seal box below.  Seal boxes like the present one would have contained the wax seal to be affixed to royal documents. The two openings on each side would have presented a cord and a tassel that came out attached to the enclosed royal seal. The seal was held by the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. At the death of the King, all the silver seals were to be destroyed. The facade of this box, exceptionally modelled by Paul Storr, shows what the seal would have looked like.   A Silver-Gilt Seal Box Made in London in 1817 By Paul Storr Diameter: 17.5cm, 6.8 in Weight: 21oz. 595 g   Princess Augusta Sophia (Born 8 November 1768 – Died 22 September 1840) Augusta Sophia was the second oldest daughter of George III and Queen Charlotte and, famously, their favourite child. She never married and had no children.  The Pair of Robert Garrard wine coolers below are engraved with the initials 'AS' for Augusta Sophia, Princess of England, and Ireland, for whom these magnificent wine buckets were commissioned. They are also further engraved to the underside with 'E.A F' standing for Ernest Augustus Feideikommiss. Feideikommiss meaning they formed part of the entailed estate after he succeeded as King of Hanover in 1838. Therefore, this would suggest the wine buckets were either a gift from sister to brother or inherited.   A Pair of Bucket Wine Coolers Made in London in 1831 By Robert Garrard Width: 19.5cm, 7.6in Weight: 3,061g, 98oz 8dwt diam., 3061g. Complete with original Old-Sheffield liners.   George IV Reigned for ten years from 1820-1830   George IV became Prince Regent in 1811 because of his father's illness and was well-known for his enthusiasm for the arts. He famously commissioned both artworks, notably Dutch and Flemish ones, and portraits to Sir Thomas Lawrence and Sir Joshua Reynolds, as well as he acquired magnificent objects. Several of these works still sit in the Royal Collection today. He also built The Royal Pavilion in Brighton and spent time transforming Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. The Jewel of the crown at Koopman Rare Art is The Royal George IV Shield of Achilles, acquired by Ernst Augustus, King of Hanover, and younger brother of George IV and Princess Augusta Sophia, which was bears the maker's mark of the Royal Silversmith Philip Rundell and retailed by Rundell, Bridge & Rundell. Five of the Achillies’ shields were made, the first of which was made in 1821 for The Prince Regent to form the centrepiece for the buffet of plate at his coronation banquet; this shield is still in the Royal Collection. A further example was acquired by Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and is now in the collections of the Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, California. Two further shields both marked for 1822-23 were sold to Hugh Percy, 3rd Duke of Northumberland in 1822 for £2,100 and to William Lowther, 2nd Earl of Lonsdale in 1823.  Our Royal shield, which is marked for 1823-24, was commissioned for Ernst Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and later King of Hanover. The new Hanoverian monarch acquired massive quantities of plate in 1838, the weight of which amounts to over 180 kilos, including six thirteen-light candelabra and two centrepieces. This great display of plate would have played an important role in the establishment of the new king and the image of splendour that he wished to create for himself.   However, unlike his brother George IV, he did not acquire plate for the specific occasion of his coronation.    A Highly Important Royal Shield for The King of Hanover Made in London in 1823 Made by Philip Rundell for Rundell, Bridge & Rundell Diameter: 35 ¾ in (89.7 cm) Weight: 723 oz (22,490 g)   We sincerely hope that our selection of illustrious pieces of exceptional quality has fascinated you and perhaps transported you to an era of Royal splendour!

12 Pieces for 12 Dover Street

26 August 2021

Dear Clients, Colleagues and Friends, Please click below to find your copy of our latest catalogue: 12 Pieces for 12 Dover Street. We look forward to receiving your feedback and to welcoming you to our new premises in Mayfair. With best wishes, Lewis, Timo and the team at Koopman Rare Art   

The Jerningham Wine Cooler

10 June 2021

Koopman Rare Art proudly presents, the largest piece of Sterling silver commissioned since the creation of the Jerningham - Kandler cistern, London, 1734, residing in St Petersburg at the Hermintage Museum.  This wine cistern is modelled after the George II example made in London, 1734 by Charles Kandler. Its inspiration can be traced to a sketch of the design honouring the wine god Bacchus, executed by the antiquarian and engraver George Vertue (1684-1756) - the wax models for the figures were executed by the Flemish-born English sculptor John Michael Rysbrack (1694–1770). The original cistern, now in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, was the work of the silversmith Charles Frederick Kandler (act. 1720–1770s). When this remarkable piece was finally ready in 1734, Meynell had changed his mind and Jernegan found himself stuck with the extravagant object for which he failed to find a buyer. Offered initially as first price in a lottery of 1739, the wine cistern subsequently entered the collection of Empress Anne of Russia the following year. The wine cooler of oval form, waisted below the rim, with large oval medallions.  The bowl rests on four seated panthers, teeth bared, each with one paw on a bunch of grapes. The panthers each with collars and are tied to the bowl with chains. Heavy S-scroll handles with herms of a faun and a bacchante, both holding bunches of grapes with vines lain across their hips. The upper section of the scrolls has a profiled edge in comparison to the curves of lower - forming the base or stand of the herms – and are ornamented with acanthus leaves. Attached to the sides of the bowl are relief bacchic scenes with putti. To one side, putti surround a chariot pulled by panthers in which sit two more putti, one of them the young Bacchus, with a figure of Cupid hovering above; the other shows putti dancing, flanked by a group of putti fighting with others drinking and playing with a panther. All parts of the wine cooler were cast from moulds and then raised and chased, before being soldered together. Bolts fasten together the larger parts: the handles to the bowl, the bowl to the panthers, etc. The medallions are much thicker than the side walls of the bowl itself, as to accommodate decorated of very high relief.  

Spring Catalogue 2021

22 March 2021

Dear Friends and Colleagues,  With the start of the Spring Season, we hope to inspire you with the latest Koopman Rare Art digital catalogue. Composed with the season very much in mind we present but a small selection of pieces from our current collection.  With names of the greatest silversmiths and gold chasers such as Paul de Lamerie, John Schuppe, Paul Storr and Charles Le Bastier but to name a few, this catalogue offers a broad array of treasures to ensure you find the exceptional piece you are looking for.  Our website offers the opportunity to discover an even greater selection of outstanding artistry. We are constantly adding exciting new finds, so we invite you to peruse the Koopman Rare Art website regularly to ensure you never miss that opportunity to possess that treasure in your collection. If you have not done so already, you can also sign up to the Koopman Rare Art Member’s Area for exclusive access to more in-depth analysis of these wonderful finds.  We are also excited to inform you that after over half a century we have decided to move to Mayfair. The high-quality silver and objects we display will be well suited to this wonderful new gallery. Please keep an eye on our website for details of the planned opening and future events. From all here at the team of Koopman Rare Art, we wish you a safe and prosperous new season in 2021. The Directors and Team at Koopman Rare Art  You can also download a copy of the Koopman Rare Art Spring Catalogue HERE.

News for the coming year

17 December 2020

Dear Clients, Friends and Colleagues, This year has surely been one of change and uncertainty but here at Koopman we remain committed to look at the future with an optimistic and enthusiastic eye. 2021 will be a year of new and exciting projects and announcements, the first one being our future collaboration with The Bruno Effect, a newly developed platform website that will display a curated selection of artworks presented by the world’s most prestigious dealers. A few weeks ago, the journalist Roddy Clarke, contributor to titles including Forbes, The Financial Times and the London Evening Standard, had a chat with our Director Lewis Smith to look back at his experience in dealing with some of the most important works of art in the world and to discuss what the future looks like for Koopman Rare Art. Follow this link to read the full interview and watch this space for future announcements. With best wishes The Directors and Team at Koopman Rare Art

Catalogue: Twenty Under Twenty

27 November 2020

Dear Clients, Friends and Colleagues,  As the festive season approaches, we thought that you might enjoy another curated selection from the wonders of the Koopman Rare Art Collection.  With your seasonal wish list in mind, we set ourselves the task of selecting our most interesting pieces under £20,000, and presenting them to you in our latest catalogue Twenty Under Twenty. Each one of these pieces has been chosen for a unique characteristic in their design or conception that makes them truly exceptional.  Browse through our catalogue to unfold the beautiful story of elegance that these pieces tell and we trust that you will find something that you will enjoy through generations to come.  We are constantly acquiring new and exceptional pieces so please do check our website to discover more! The Directors and Team at Koopman Rare Art You can also download a copy of the Koopman Rare Art Twenty Under Twenty Catalogue HERE.

A Well-Trodden Path from The East Paved in Silver

23 November 2020

Before entering this wonderful world of what we refer to as Chinese Export Silver I think it is important to touch upon the scholars that have enlightened us and influenced me with regards Chinese Export silver. Dr Crosby Forbes, John Devereux Kernan and Ruth S. Wilkins first brought the world’s attention to Chinese Export Silver with the first exhibition in America in 1966 at the China Trade Museum. Kernan subsequently compiled and wrote the limited-edition catalogue for The Chait Collection of Chinese Export Silver in 1985. More recently, the exhibition of The Silver Age: Origins and Trade of Chinese Export Silver ran from 2017 to 2019, organised by the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, and co-organised with the Home Affairs Bureau, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Guangdong Museum. The exhibition was curated by Dr Libby Chan. I am also sure most of you will also know Adrien Von Firscht and his enlightening research into a subject which is often misunderstood, particularly with his help in bringing to light hundreds of export retailers and artisans particularly in the Treaty Cities so often ignored in the past. I would also like to thank the wonderful friends and collectors who I have been fortunate enough to meet that have helped to enlighten me on my own personal journey with Export Silver. We have come to use the term ‘Export Silver’ very loosely as much produced in China would also have been commissioned for the home market and yet at a later date made its way abroad through trade and gifts. Technically, the term "Export Silver" refers to silver ware produced specifically for export by Asian silversmiths, catering to foreign tastes and demand. This is not something that occurred overnight. Chinese Dynasties Han period (-206 to +220) Tang Dynasty (618-906) Sung Dynasty (960-1279) Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) We must consider that silver has been greatly admired in China for at least 2,500 years. During the Han period (-206 to +220), we see the flow of precious metals with the silk trade. The prosperous Tang Dynasty (618-906) saw great expansion, with the opening of China’s frontiers, which led to ordinary, utilitarian vessels being transformed into silver objects of wonder. The Sung Dynasty (960-1279) saw the emergence of silver items very similar to those made from ceramics and other materials, and the splendour of the Great Khan's Palace in the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) was hailed by explorers and travellers, including men such as Marco Polo, for its richness and beauty. The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) saw a cultural renaissance and with it a return to forms of antiquity, but it is during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) that we see Chinese Export Silver emerge and explode for the foreign market. A wonderful fusion of overseas requirements and fashion mixed with centuries of Chinese tradition created an unmistakable design. Silver as a form of payment has historically been linked to trades in China. As maritime trade routes expanded, silver coins circulated throughout Europe to the Mediterranean Sea regions that established silver's significant role for trading.  The advent of the European Age of Voyages meant the beginning of global maritime trade. Silver coins minted in Spain and Mexico widely spread all over the world and established a system of internationally accepted currency. In China, silver bullions excavated from the shipwrecks of the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties have proven that silver played an important role as currency in common use in China and Southeast Asia, and have demonstrated the prosperity of ancient maritime trade. Beginning in 1565, Spanish trading ships known as Manila galleons voyaged across the Pacific Ocean from Acapulco, Mexico, to Manila, Philippines, every year for trading. As an advanced voyage vessel, the Manila galleon was made of wood and built by Chinese shipwrights hired by the Spanish in Manila, it had a typical payload of two thousand tons. From the mid-16th century onwards, the Americas and Japan were the major producers and exporters of silver. The total American silver production rapidly increased during the 16th and 18th century and shipped to Asia through Europe and Manila. Japan also exported bulk silver to China during the 16th and 17th century, making China the major silver recipient of the period. Besides functioning as currency, silver had been a material commonly used for making artefacts, along with gold, throughout China’s  history because of such characteristics as white and bright colour, corrosion resistance, fire resistance, malleability and ease of splitting and working. So, China was rich in silver and had based its monetary system on this precious metal, most of which was mined internally in Yunnan and Sunshing. The country had protected its great asset by limiting the export of silver and only permitting it in the form of coin, bullion, or manufactured wares. Its reserves, as touched on before, were further bolstered by foreign trade with the west, and with America and Britain in particular, this trade was conducted in silver trade dollars. As we all know, there was a fashionable trend of chinoiserie in Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These chinoiserie imports were highly appreciated and pursued by the royalty and nobility. At the time, handicrafts made in Europe demonstrated certain "Oriental" elements such as Chinese flowers, figures and architecture seen particularly in the artistic styles of Baroque and Rococo. However, early Chinese Export Silver was incredibly rare, and it was only special commissions by Royal households, Ambassadors and nobility that one sees in the late 17th and early 18th century including Europe, India and Arabia as well as to a select number of wealthy American merchant families, mostly on the eastern seaboard. The appeal of the exclusivity and exoticism must have been intoxicating. © Image courtesey of the State Hermitage Museum St Petersberg by Vladimir Terebenin This is exemplified by a wonderful toilet service commissioned by Catherine the Great in the Hermitage, St Petersburg and by a beautiful Rice wine pot and tankard circa 1685 both now in private collections. A 17th Century rice wine pot circa, 1685 A Chinese 17th century tankard circa 1685 However, not long after this, one sees that a significant trade existed prior to the Canton system (1757–1842) and lucrative partnerships were formed with the Chinese Hong Merchants. The Hong merchants were guilds that had the extreme privilege of trading with foreigners from mainland bases. This period initially sees the fashion for Chinese export silver largely following the styles that were found in the west. Here we see a Chinese Casket Canton, circa 1750 it is interesting to compare the shape to boxes from European toilet services towards the end of the 17th century and early 18th century. The fine filigree work is beautifully executed. This delightful high-quality tea urn made in Canton circa 1825 by the retail company Lin Chong, is interesting to compare how this creation was influenced from the English late neo-classical period. The Canton system served as a means for China to control trade with the west within its own country by forming all trade on the Southern port of Canton (now Guangzhou) The policy arose in 1757 as response to a perceived political and commercial threat from abroad on the part of successive Chinese Emperors. Many fortunes were made at this time through the China Trade and of course the Opium Trade. This system permitted local Hong merchants to govern and secure commercial trade with foreign merchants. They governed the trade of the main commodities such as tea, silk, sugar, and spice. However, it was the 'outside shopmen or merchants' in Canton that provided items for personal use and these, of course, included items made from silver. Foreign companies and sea captains were attracted by the relatively low price of said silver items. The highly skilled labour of the Cantonese silversmith was so much cheaper than in the west that even with the additional duties and cost of transport, these purchases were still a very appealing proposition. One can see from this old map of the canton factories or trading posts how international this must have been with the Swedish, Danish, French, Spanish, Dutch American and British all present. The Hong merchants maintained an incredible and sumptuous style of living with silver very much in evidence. They presented their ‘foreign friends’ with many gifts from the many silversmiths that surrounded the compound, catering of course to the Western tastes. The almost royal status of these Hong merchants was certainly impressionable and this influence of Oriental luxury on the merchant and sea captains passed on when they returned home in the many trappings they filled their houses with to display their new found wealth. The British set the tone for this luxury in the days of the East India Company foreigners were generally regarded as untrustworthy. The East India Company was unique in that they had the trust of the Hongs. It was the biggest of the factories and noted for the lavish and grand scale hospitality. This continued on the opening of the other treaty ports in 1843 and Anglo-Chinese residences were erected such as Government House in Hong Kong. The activities of the early Western settlers were also greatly controlled, and they were limited to there compounds. Indeed, the wives of the merchants and Captains on the opening of Hong Kong as a treaty port were only allowed initially to remain in Macao, the Portuguese colony. The early clipper sail boats also only had seasonal access to the ports followed by long and precarious journeys to their final destination. This meant a year-round trip for the merchant with lengthy periods of waiting patiently for the right conditions to sail. What was one to do in these often-boring times. The time-honoured tradition of shopping whilst in a foreign destination? They filled much of their time with this activity and the silversmiths retail establishments cleverly situated their locations around the compounds. Many competitions also were organised to pass the time including sailing, rowing, and later horse racing. These all would have had cause for their individual silver prizes. One such prize is this incredible 19th Century Bowl on Stand Silver and Original Carved Wood Stand made in Shanghai, circa 1890 The silversmith and chop mark of DA JI who was working for the great firm of Hung Chong & Co in Shanghai. Diameter: 39 cm, 15.35 in Weight: 4960 gr, 159.49 oz Inscription referring to the Amoy Races, the modern city of Xiamen Hung Chong & Co was a retail silversmith with its own manufactory or workshop and was owned by Fok Ying Chew. The retail store opened in 1892 after the manufactory began. The following article appeared in a 1908 published travel journal of an Englishman and repeated verbatim: “The Chinese are admittedly clever craftsmen and the silver-ware which they manufacture is very popular with collectors of Eastern curios and souvenirs by reason of its quaint beauty. Among the leading gold and silversmiths in Shanghai are Messrs. Hung Chong & Co., who deal largely also in blackwood furniture, embroideries, silk piece goods etc. Their premises at 11b Nanking Road always present a very attractive appearance. The business was established in 1892 by Mr Fok Ying Chew, who sold it in 1906 to the present proprietor, Mr Sum Luen-sing. The large trade carried ion necessitates the employment of fourteen assistants and forty-workmen. Mr Sum Luen-sing is the son of Mr Sum Cheuk Sing and was born in Macao in 1871. He studied English in Shanghai and at the age of sixteen joined the “Limpu” Line of steamers. After remaining in this employment for three years, he obtained a post with the “Kang-yue” Line. He joined Hung Chong & Co. as an assistant in 1892. He is married and has one son and daughter.” The end of the Opium Wars and the signing of The Treaty of Nanking in 1842 opened many other Treaty Ports for trade. Foreign settlements established themselves in Shanghai and as mentioned already Hong Kong, as well as in many other centres, such as Juijang, Nanking, and Tientsin. Initially, silversmith shops were branches of established Canton firms but with the immense trade that exploded in the following years and the huge rise in affluence, numerous new businesses and silversmiths gained a strong foothold in the market. I find this pair of exceptional beautifully decorated cachepots particularly interesting as they are made in Peking circa, 1880 by the maker Bao Heng Xiang Here is a very special commission,  a gold freedom box made by Johh Linnitt in 1844  celebrating the signing of the Treaty of Nanking, the plaque on the cover chased with the British and the Chinese gathered round a table, framed by a border of heraldic flowers, all on a matted ground, with a dove bearing an olive branch above, with trophies and arms at the angles, the sides and base engraved with shells, scrolls, flowers and pagodas, incorporating the arms of Pottinger, with Cooke in pretence, and the City of London, the interior of the lid with a presentation inscription which reads: A common council holden in The Chamber of the Guild Hall of the City of London. On Thursday the 13th Day of February 1845. Requested Unanimously That the freedom of this city in a box of the value of one hundred Guineas be presented to Major General Sir Henry Pottinger Baronet G.C.B. In testimony of the estimation entertained by this court in common with their fellow citizens in regard to his important services in negotiating a treaty of Peace and Commerce with the Chinese Empire                                                                                                                         MEREWETHER The plaque on the cover is after a painting by Captain John Platt. The rapid expansion of the aforementioned commercial centres, such as Hong Kong and Shanghai saw the production of every ware imaginable in silver. The cost of silver was high for the firms selling their plate, so although some stock was immediately available to the purchaser, most items were generally special commissions. General items would have included pieces such as the snuff box. The history of Chinese snuff boxes is closely intertwined with the introduction of tobacco products in China during the mid to late 16th century. Tobacco was smoked initially, but when the Portuguese traders arrived and presented snuff as a gift to the Chinese Emperor at the court of Beijing inside a wonderfully elaborate European-style snuff box, it quickly superseded smoked tobacco. Snuff was very expensive and became part of the social ritual at the Qing Dynasty's imperial court as noblemen came to sample this new wonder which was believed to have medicinal properties. By the 18th century, the practice had spread to every social class in China. Not only were these precious boxes fashion accessories, but they were also a means to express social status. Interestingly, the humid climate in China, together with the introduction of established medicinal practices, changed the shape of vessels for snuff used in China. The European boxes were lightly sealed and caused the snuff to cake. They were soon replaced by snuff bottles which had air-tight stoppers. The Chinese Export Trade however for the traditional European-style snuff box continued to flourish. Individual commissions were often personalised, for example for a marriage, carrying Chinese characters wishing the couple a long and prosperous life, or alternatively with symbolism such as a phoenix and dragon for wedded bliss and matrimony. Many items purchased in the Chinese Export Trade related to tobacco and these included cheroot cases, cigar boxes, cigarette boxes, vesta boxes and match box covers. A CHINESE PRESENTATION CIGAR BOX Maker’s Mark of Wang Hing Circa 1890 Weight with liner removed: 100 oz The front panel is embossed and chased with a village scene, the back with an agricultural scene, bamboo forests to the sides, the hinged cover with presentation inscription bordered by chrysanthemums bordered by peonies, hinged simulated bamboo handles, raised on four ball feet, opening to reveal a cedar wood liner. Inscribed: ‘Presented, to, The Hon ble Charles S. Pearse, Treasurer of Sarawalk, 1875-1898, by his brother officers, as a token of friendship and respect on his, retirement from the , Sarawalk Civil Service, July 31st 1898’ Together with the original list of the subscribers. Rajah Charles Brooke was so grateful to Charles S. Pearse that he named a road in Kuching after him. Pearse was instrumental in installing a proper accounting system for the White Rajah’s Sarawalk government’s accounts, which had been in a mess until then. Pearse was then appointed Treasurer of Sarawalk and a member of the Supreme Council and the Council Negri. Other general items would have included boxes of every manner from bougie boxes through to seal boxes, dinner service would also been very popular items, flatware, card cases, vinaigrettes, and caskets to name a few. The Punch bowl would have been one of the centrepieces of this high living and entertainment of this opulent period and undoubtably would have been a special commission and not a piece one could purchase from the shelf. The ability of the Chinese silversmith to turn around such sumptuous commissions in a relatively short space of time was truly astounding. Here I show a number examples which demonstrate the variety of decoration and styles at the same moment in time. This is a massive 19th Century Chinese Punch Bowl made in Shanghai in 1888 and retailed by the firm Hung Chong & Co Weighing some 93oz 2dwt of silver This exceptional punch bowl on three dragon feet, cast and applied to the raised bowl. The main bowl with cast and applied dragons together with the sun emblem to the centre. The firm of Hung Chong were based in Club Street in Canton as well as Nankin Road Shanghai between 1860-1930 Here we see a superb Chinese Punch Bowl made by the celebrated firm Wang Hing. They had outlets in Hong Kong, Canton & Shanghai. This bowl was made circa 1895. This punch bowl show how international Chinese Export silver became, It bears the additional import hallmarks of Edwards & Sons in Glasgow for 1895. This magnificent punch bowl was made in Shanghai circa 1890 and retailed by the firm of Luen Wo. The exterior is embossed in high relief with scenes of dignitaries hunting and an additional scene of a court, there are further figures in a mountainous landscape and the sides with loose drop ring handles suspended from lion masks. The interior of the bowl is inscribed ‘Die dankbaren Deutschen Shanghai I.L. Dr Paulun 1895’. Again, demonstrating the European appeal, this time for the German traveller Here is a beautiful punch bowl by the celebrated retail establishment of Wang Hing circa 1890. The fabulous use of cloud dragons leaves no part of the surface undecorated save for the pierced elements. The celebrated firm Wang Hing & Co was based at Zetland House, 10 Queen’s Road, Hong Kong 1 Sai Hing Street, Canton & also in Shanghai. Wang Hing was probably responsible for producing more Chinese Export Silver than any other Chinese retail silversmith. The company was also one of the first to establish a large retail emporium that grew to sell a wide variety of luxury goods. Wang Hing & Co begun just after the 1842 Treaty of Nanking by the Lo Family, who lived in Xiguan within Shameen Island in Canton where the 13 Hongs had been situated. In the late 1860’s, the eldest son Lo Kit Ping took the helm. It wasn’t until the early 1920’s that a purpose-built flagship store was decided to be built on the Queen’s Road, Hong Kong. This store was run by Lo Hung Tong. The Lo family members insisted on designing and overseeing the quality of every item of silver that was made for them and it was from their Hong Kong emporium they fast established the reputation as the place to go to order bespoke trophies and commemorative items that became part of the thriving men’s clubs and sporting clubs that became synonymous with Hong Kong. Sadly, the success of this great firm ended in 1941 with the invasion of the Japanese. They would have undoubtedly influenced styles in the West that became so popular with department stores such as Tiffany with high style of Chinese symbolism and Western fusion. Here you see their flag ship store at Zetland House in Hong Kong This fabulous punch bowl again by the firm Wang Hing was presented as the winning prize at the Kong Kong Jockey Club, highlighting their production for one of the many sporting clubs. The history of tea and its relationship with foreign trade and China is another academic paper in its own right, but the variety of boxes or canisters that were made to carry black (Bohea) and green (Viridis) tea is extraordinary. The west fell in love with this magical leaf and built its social and political infrastructure around the tea ceremony during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Chinese Export Silver capitalised on this. The word 'caddy' derives from the Malay kati, meaning approximately 1⅕ pounds. The cost of tea during the late 17th century in England was high: 40 shillings per pound in 1664. However, it was never higher than when it became heavily taxed in the 18th century.  The earliest examples of silver tea caddies emulated the Chinese porcelain examples and were often inserted with lead liners to preserve the tea. The variety of shapes, style and decoration is amazing. A Chinese tea caddy circa, 1900 decorated with Chrysanthemums A 19th Century Chinese Kettle Circa, 1905. Marked under base with the silversmiths’ chopmark The kettle-on-stand with similar chrysanthemum flower decoration. The provenance to this piece a Mr James Linn Rogers (b. 1861), Consul-General of the United States at Shanghai from 1905-1907, and thence by descent, highlights the International appeal of Export Silver CHINESE SILVER THREE PIECE TEA  SET, by Wang Hing, of hexagonal section, repoussé decorated with panels of figures, dragons and flowering foliage and with simulated bamboo handles, This set, although not photographed here, came with its original  fitted silk-lined hardwood box with sliding cover. These original cases with the retailer labels give us great insight to the location and operations of these original firms of the treaty ports. One such label of the Firm Leeching Canton, circa, 1850-60 Courtesy Museum of the American China Trade. The rapid expansion of the treaty ports continued as clipper sail boats were peplaced by steam boats, this meant the start of tourism and indeed with it department stores. The once elusive and and unobtainble items became more readily available still in the early Republic (1912-1949). This of course would have ceased with the outbreak of Worl War II A 19th century Chinese school picture of the Bund in Shanghai The Jazz Period in Shanghai is well documented. The city of Shanghai was divided into zones controlled by different governments, warlords, and foreign powers including the Japanese, British, and French. In this political no-man’s land, Shanghai became a crossroads where people from all continents met on the banks of the Huangpu River. Americans, Russians, Chinese, Brits, Japanese, and a host of other nations’ peoples contributed to the boisterous world of Shanghai’s night-time entertainment. The city was full of jazz bands and combos who could all play the latest popular numbers from America and Europe, although many of the musicians were from the Philippines. The silversmiths were quick to cater for this moment in time. A CHINESE COCKTAIL SHAKER circa 1900 Retailer’s mark of the Chinese Jewellery Company AN UNUSUAL 20th CENTURY CHINESE SILVER FOUR-PIECE TEA & COFFEE SERVICE WITH TRAY China 20th century Tientsin Retailer’s mark of Yu Chang Weight (gross): 182 oz Of octagonal form with wood scroll handles, the pots and sugar dish with bayonet-fastening lids applied with stepped-circular wood finials each inset with silver disc, the two-handled tray of rectangular form Provenance: Presented as a wedding present by La Banque Indochine of Tien Tsin in 1947. Silver Quality The quality of the silver produced is also interesting to touch upon. When tested today we see that the finesse is high in quality but varies between 80 -98 percent silver. To quote from an old account in Forbes’ book on Chinese Export ‘Much as we hear of the 100 touch sycee there is in reality no such thing, the very finest made averaging at most 98.5…. In practice, it will be found not an unsafe plan to average the touch of all sycee whatever at 98’ The sycee was the form of ingots used by the Chinese and referred to as shoes by the Westerners because of their peculiar shape. The practice of hallmarking Chinese Export in the initial case was often a series of pseudo-London hallmarks which would in English Wares indicate 92.5 percent pure in quality. However, this does not apply the same guarantee with Chinese Export silver. The later system of a artisans chopmark, retailers’ hallmark and quality mark of 90 cannot be taken literally. That said, the fineness of silver is incredibly high and more often heavier in gauge when compared to that of a Western object of similar use. Here we see one of those pseudo hallmarks. This is an interesting example as it closely resembles that of Eley, Fearn & Chawner on a hallmarked piece of London, 1808. This silversmith operated in Canton between 1820-1880. Here we see a variety of marks used by the famous retailers Wang Hing showing the use of the ‘90’ hallmark together with that of the WH for Wang Hing and the artisans chopmark. Chinese Export silver is a fascinating subject that I feel I have had the privilege of just touching the surface of. The fact that no Westerners took over as silversmiths in these ports is in stark contrast to that of say India where the firms such as Hamilton & Co were originally from the UK. It is a testament to the Chinese artisans’ incredible skills and the retailer business acumen and ability to adapt to their surroundings that leaves us with so many treasures to admire today. Here are a selection of these masterpieces as a testament to this fabulous fusion and unique style we call Chinese Export. An Extremely Rare Chinese Parcel Gilt Garniture Silver Gilt Shanghai, circa 1870 Maker's mark of Quan Ji Retailed by Leeching (Lee Ching) of 24a Queen’s Road, Hong Kong 30 Old China Street, Canton Nanking Road, Shanghai. The firm of retailers was active between 1840 and 1880 circa. The incredible quality of this garniture, comprising of two parcel gilt candelabra and a casket, makes it an exceptional piece of Chinese silver. The design of the pieces is highly unusual as such architectural pieces differ from the most common examples of objects produced in the Shanghai region at the time. The two candelabra sit on large square feet that recall the shape of traditional carved wooden bases for precious objects. The stem is adorned with a coiling dragon and a geometrical decoration connects the stems. The body of the casket is shaped as a pagoda resting on four sharp feet with geometrical patterns and naturalistic clouds inside the reserves. The garniture is of Imperial quality and it is likely the client would have been a Comprador or possibly more westernised prince. An Exquisite 19th Century Chinese Cup & Cover Silver  Circa, 1890  Maker's mark of Wang Hing  This cup and cover bears the hallmark of Wang Hing in a square lozenge that is found on other pieces from the Wang Hing firm. This mark is that of the silversmith Tai Kut, who was a known silver workshop as well as a maker for Wang Hing & Company. The cup and cover has fantastic detail with scenes of temples to one side and warriors to the other. The base also has superb sea motifs of fish, sea snails and crustacean. A Chinese Centrepiece, Shanghai circa 1890 by Luen Wo The body is ornamented with twelve shaped panels with matte backgrounds.   Each panel is embellished with chased decoration depicting individual scenes, such as birds sitting in a cherry blossom tree, fish in a pond, figures in oriental attire conversing on a balcony and chrysanthemums amidst foliage. The shaped rim of this impressive centrepiece is encompassed with an applied moulded border. The body surmounts a magnificent pedestal encircled with three cast three-dimensional oriental bearded dragon ornaments to a chased smoke/cloud decorated plinth. The knop to the lower portion of the large pedestal is embellished with further chased decorated panels matching the designs to that of the body. The large circular domed spreading foot of the centrepiece is encircled with further chrysanthemum and foliate decoration on a matte background. The decoration to the foot is encompassed with a plain border, incorporating the contemporary engraved inscription 'To J.R.Greaves Esq. From A.Ebrahim & Co. Shanghai' Diameter of rim 31cm/12.2" Diameter of foot 20.5cm/8.1" Height 25.5cm/10" Weight 63 troy ounces/1960g A Chinese Export Silver 19th Century Canister Silver                                                                                                                                                                                         Canton, circa 1890                                                                                               Retailers mark of Cum Shing of Old China Street, Canton c.1775-1840 Height: 23.5cm,                                                                                                    Weight: 11,11.2g, 35oz 14dwt The canister of cylindrical form with lobed sides, embossed with alternating panels. The panels decorated with birds in blossom trees, figural groups, rampant dragons and climbing bamboo and chrysanthemum. Each side of the canister with applied grotesque winged masks carrying ring handles. The cover embossed with cloud dragons, terminating with a cast dragon and pearl finial. The main body raised on four stylised bamboo bracket feet. The canister with gilded interior. A Chinese Gold Cup Gold Circa 1910 Height: 14.5cm Weight:284 gr Maker Wu Hua This gold standing cup is unusual simply because in having been created in gold. It carries a 750-gold mark: equivalent to 18 carat. It is decorated using both Chinese and English influences; the use of the English oak leaf motif where the two handles meet the body of the cup could well be in recognition of the British Navy. A cup of similar form exists that was made in Canton circa 1905 for the Peking Club Billiard Handicap. The rim of this gold cup is decorated with a prunus motif border. Wu Hua, Tianjin is the same Wu Hua as in Beijing. As with some of the more prominent artisan and retail silversmiths in Beijing, Wu Hua decided to relocate to Tianjin when fighting broke out in Beijing. Despite the fact the very same happened in Tianjin, most of the Beijing “refugee” silversmiths stayed in Tianjin. Wu Hua, however, retained the Beijing shop for several years.  Wu Hua operated two premises in Tianjin, one in the Japanese Concession and the other in the French Concession. They stayed in operation until circa, 1937 when the Japanese invaded and captured the city. A Chinese Dumpling Dish Shanghai & Singapore Circa 1890 Maker's mark of Tian Xing This is one of the most unusual of Chinese Export silversmiths but is known for the extreme quality found in the few surviving pieces found with his mark. This extraordinary piece is highly decorated with phonenixes , flowers and crustacean A PAIR OF CHINESE EXPORT FIGURAL CENTREPIECES Silver Hong Kong, late 19th, circa, 1880 Maker’s mark of Wang Hing Height: 17 ½ in (44.5 cm) Diameter: 11 in (28 cm) Weight: 152 oz Each with bamboo-form central stem, amidst cranes, supporting similarly decorated tiered dishes, surmounted by a conical vase, over dragon-form standards above a tripartite base decorated with dragons and scrolling foliage, on bat-form feet. The cranes and bats have added symbolism of longevity and peace I hope you have enjoyed this very short insight into an incredibly fascinating world. It is hard to do this subject justice in such a short blog, as there are so many areas to expand on. As you can imagine these objects are keenly sought after by the many collectors and museums around the world. Chinese Export silver has a truly international collector and is fuelled by the Chinese and their re-kindled interest in revisiting an incredible period of the Chinese silversmith. Timo Koopman © Koopman Rare Art, all images and information with exception of those with courtesy of other named institutions.

A Rare Collection: Paul de Lamerie

11 September 2020

The reputation of Paul de Lamerie (1688 – 1751), renown as the greatest silversmith working in England in the eighteenth century, proceeds him, yet, despite his success as a silversmith, it is a rare occasion to have such a large and varied collection of De Lamerie silver, especially from the perceived height of his career in the 1730s. Far less of De Lamerie’s silver survives today in its original state as much would have been refashioned to suit the emerging Neo-classical tastes that succeeded – it being more cost effective at the time to transform an existing service that had fallen out of fashionable favour, than to commission a new one entirely and in addition to the service one would have already possessed. It was under the tutelage of the most prestigious Huguenot silversmith, Pierre Platel (circa 1664 - 1719), following a ten year apprenticeship, that Paul de Lamerie was able to establish himself amongst the elite in the new revolutionary sensibility – the Rococo style. Conceived to provoke a romantic sense of confusion and dream-like atmospheres, without renouncing the grandeur, theatrical scale and formal robustness of the Baroque, the rococo style treated natural subjects with a sense of whimsy and asymmetry - emerging in the early 1730s and coming into full fruition in the middle of the decade. The success that De Lamerie achieved as a silversmith is the result not only of his innovation of decorative techniques but also in his trade choices as a successful Georgian business owner. His skill was quickly recognized and by 1717 he was referred to as ‘the King’s Silversmith’, only four years after entering his first mark into the Goldsmith’s Hall, in 1713. Paul de Lamerie, George II Basket, London 1738 This elaborate George II silver basket by De Lamerie, 1738 exemplifies his established transition from his earlier productions, that possessed a more sober and solid tendency to the Queen Anne style, into a rococo shaping of Huguenot art with delicate strapwork and cast and applied decoration. The foot rim is cast with finely sculptured lion masks, serpents, and corn ears; the side pierced in a raffia form; and the border case ornamented with shells and wheatears entwined with foliate shapes. Its swing handle is equally as ornate, adorned with cascading and trailing flowers. Paul de Lamerie, George II Basket, London 1738 Detail of arms to the base Among the upper echelons of English society in the first half of the eighteenth century, there was considerable social mobility, and an ambitious professional could more easily amass both capital and influence. The possession of a handsome display of silver was one of the first expressions of upward mobility and this is reflected in De Lamerie’s clientele. Paul de Lamerie was host to several wealthy and politically important patrons throughout his career, most notably, Sir Robert Walpole (1676 - 1745), Britain’s first prime minister, who guided the Whig supremacy under George I and George II. This basket here presented bears the arms of Simon Harcourt, 1st Earl of Harcourt of Stanton Harcourt, from the period in which he held the title of Viscount. Sir Simon Harcourt was an ambitious man and was bestowed with the honour of Lord Lieutenant and Viceroy of Ireland in 1772. He was an enthusiastic patron of the arts, his cultural enthusiasm matched only by his attainments throughout his career in royal service. Thus, Sir Simon Harcourt would have surely recognised the fine quality of this elaborately decorated silver basket. Richard Pococke described Sir Simon Harcourt as a ‘most amiable serious fine gentleman of good nature and good sense.’ Robert Hunter, Portrait of Simon, 1st Earl of Harcourt (1714-1777), oil on canvas (76 x 63 cm) National Portrait Gallery of Ireland NGI.1002. While a basket of this high quality and design by De Lamerie is a rare find, a greater number of cups has survived by contrast. In the eighteenth century, the two-handled cup developed into more of a ceremonial object than a functional one. It is surely this pronounced heirloom status that has ensured the longevity of this present example of a De Lamerie Cup & Cover. Elaborate cast mouldings again reveal the contemporary tendency towards the more ornate Rococo style which had become extremely popular in London from the mid-1730s. Paul de Lamerie, George II Two-handled Cup & Cover, London 1744 Of inverted bell shape with a stepped foot and two handles, the shape of this cup and & cover is quite typical of cups made between the 1720s and 1780s, however, the true innovation lies in de Lamerie’s mastery of applied decoration and design. To the foot, above a rim of floral motifs, is a band of applied and chased leaves and shells so seamlessly designed it were as if together they formed a flowing foliate ribbon. To the main body of the cup, festoons of applied fruit and flowers hang from putti masks against a background of chased and engraved leaves. The reeded scrolling handles, also with applied foliate detail, affix to the main body of the cup with relief chased shells, blending seamlessly into the organic scheme of fantastical ornament. Paul de Lamerie, George II Two-handled Cup & Cover, London 1744 Detail of applied decoration and of the arms The engraved coat of arms to the front of the cup is that of Sir Timothy Waldo (1704 - 1786), a wealthy lawyer, City merchant, and attorney of the King’s Bench, later knighted in 1769. Such was his success in his career, in 1749, Sir Waldo purchased the thirteenth century Hever Castle, the once childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Stained glass window from Hever Castle, bearing the coat-of-arms of Sir Timothy Waldo on his purchase of the property in 1749. Aside from the widespread recognition and commercial success that Paul de Lamerie experienced throughout his lifetime, his reputation was continuously acknowledged after his death in 1751. De Lamerie’s keen business sense and management of the gifted specialists who worked with him have surely affirmed his role in the supply of some of the most ambitious and innovative silver of the period, greatly sparking both antiquarian and collector interest. Sophie Teer   As London’s pre-eminent dealers of the finest antique silver, Koopman Rare Art has had the privilege of dealing with a number of magnificent pieces by the celebrated silversmith Paul de Lamerie. To discover more remarkable De Lamerie treasure, be sure to explore the ‘Notable Sales’ section of our website, where you will find, among other, details of the Magnificent Lequesne Coffee Pot, and a George II Treasury Inkstand that once belonged to Sir Robert Walpole. Paul de Lamerie The Magnificent Lequesne Coffee Pot A Highly Important George II Coffee Pot London, 1738 Paul de Lamerie The Walpole Inkstand A George II Treasury Inkstand London, 1729  

A Precious Little Cup

05 August 2020

Dear Friends, After these quiet months, we could all use some inspiration from pieces that evoke distant lands and enchanted atmospheres.   Koopman Rare Art are best known for our love of Georgian and Regency pieces but when it comes to objects of exceptional quality, our wunder kammer embraces many periods and styles.   Amongst our refined selection of early pieces, we decided to draw your attention to one of our favourite objects, whose chinoiserie decoration simply bursts with the joy and elegance we are all so in need of.   This Exquisite Charles II Hot Chocolate Cup with Cover was made in London around the year 1680 by the silversmith Ralph Leake. Image 1 The main body of the cup is decorated with incredibly delicate chinoiserie decorations of flora and fauna. Regal ho ho birds gracefully flutter their wings between exotic foliage and palms under what appears to be a marquee decorated with garlands and ribbons.  The silversmith took full advantage of the endless creativity permitted by the whimsical folly of the chinoiserie style and introduced the subtle detail of the cocoa trees amongst the vegetation to indicate the function of the vessel.  The cup is surmounted by a cover that, whilst keeping the drink warm, also doubles up as a small stand for the cup, to fully highlight its preciousness.  This is in fact the only known silver example of a chocolate cup of that period. As a highly heat conductible material, silver is not the most practical choice to serve a warm drink but the high rank of the patron must have justified the eccentricity of such a request.  The original owner of this cup is unfortunately still unknown but it is quite likely to have belonged to a lady of high rank or high visibility in society.  The female patronage of chinoiserie extravaganza is widely documented, especially in regard to the first wave of the trend that started around mid XVII century. The “Chinese” denomination was used in those days as a sort of umbrella term to refer to all Asian and exotic countries explored by the trading companies, ranging from Japan to Turkey and even India. One hundred years later the “Chinese” fashion returned to England in decorative arts, from silver to furniture, as Chippendale’s directory of 1754 testifies, and was to stay well into the late Regency with elements still very present in the Victorian aesthetic taste. Image 2 In addition to the general gender pattern of consumption and taste, there is an additional curious piece of evidence that hints towards the female patronage as our precious cup has a very illustrious twin… The same maker worked on a very similar gold version, currently in the collection of Temple Newsam (Leeds Museum and Galleries). Image 3 The gold twin to our cup boasts an incredibly fascinating story as it is believed to have been found at the bottom of a lake in Knowsley, in the estate of the Earl of Derby in the early 19th Century.  The precious vessel might have originally been made for Elizabeth Smith-Stanley, Countess of Derby. She was an incredibly fashionable woman, extremely popular in Society due to her decorative arts patronage, exquisite taste and… the scandalous nature of her marital affairs! The attribution of her ownership of the gold chinoiserie cup is reinforced by the fact that John Stalker and George Parker dedicated to her their “Treatise on Japaning and Varnishing” in 1688, praising her for her accomplishments. Image 4 Stalker and Parker’s publication contributed to the diffusion of the early Georgian taste for Chinoiserie decoration as they illustrate a selection of motives and elements that could be copied and reproduced on furniture or small items made to resemble original Asian lacquerware. Japanned work was made by amateurs, including ladies of genteel birth, as well as by professional artisans, and the Countess of Derby must have had a taste for such decoration. Image 5 The habit of drinking hot chocolate reached England during the commonwealth period, but it was not until the eighteenth century that it gained popularity. The preciousness of the pots and the vessels used to present it gives us an idea of the restricted social fragment that could access such an exotic and expensive product.  Particularly popular amongst ladies, an elegant cup of chocolate is often seen in paintings and prints, enjoyed both as a morning ritual in the privacy of one’s boudoir during the daily toilette, as well as a convivial refreshment served over acquaintances’ calls for chit chats or games of cards.  We hope you enjoyed reading about this enchanting tale and, as always, we invite you to visit our Gallery to see with your eyes the spectacular treasures we have in stock at the moment.  Let your imagination travel with us! Chiara SPdF A Charles II Hot Chocolate Cup with Cover Silver London, circa 1685 Maker’s mark of Ralph Leake Height: 11.8 cm, 4.65 in. Weight: 300 gr., 10 oz. 10.57 dwt. Literature: Harold Newman, An Illustrated Dictionary of Silverware (Thames and Hudson: London, 1987) p. 72. Provenance: Sotheby’s London, 23 May 1985.  Image 1 Image 2 A Victorian Aesthetic Tray, John Bernard, London 1878 Image 3 Image 4 Illustration from Stalker and Parker's Treatise on Japanning and Varnishing from 1688 Image 5 A Highly Important Charles II Chinoiserie Cup & Saucer, Silver-gilt                                                                                                                                                                                      London, 1683                 

An Exceptional Pair of George IV Marine Sauceboats

02 June 2020

Today we would like to present a pair of exceptional sauceboats that is amongst our most recent acquisitions.  They are marked by Robert Garrard II and date to 1820. Each one is shaped as an oval vessel that rests on a base of dolphins and shellwork. The handles are formed as Venus, narcissistically admiring her reflection in a hand mirror, and Adonis, who stares at his companion in a pensive pose. The detachable liners are marked by Sebastian Crespell II.  They are a very special piece as they are modelled after the pair in the Royal Collection (RCIN 51271) made in 1743-44 by Nicholas Sprimont for Frederick Prince of Wales. The story of our sauceboats is closely linked to the incredible Marine Service that fascinated scholars for centuries as some of the most incredible master silversmiths took part in its creation.  Frederick, Prince of Wales (who lived between 1707 and 1751) was a man of refined taste and elegance. He had access to some of the finest makers that, right in those years, were pioneers in spreading the French taste throughout England. The French Huguenot community was settling in their new elected land after escaping the terrible persecutions that forced so many talented artisans out of France. Fortunately, they were able to bring with them their most valuable asset, their skills, and that is how the Rococo style reached spectacular results in England.  The Royal Collection’s Marine Service is the most majestic group of English Rococo plate and it truly represent the incredible creativity and magic of the English Rococo which clearly found its most natural expression in silver items, thanks to the material’s fluidity, ductility and splendour.   The Royal Collection records mention the Prince’s taste for fish and seafood dishes, which found fertile ground with Rococo’s basic aesthetic principle of using elements of the natural world to create astonishing compositions and dramatic pieces.  According to silver historian C. Oman, Nicholas Sprimont started working on the Royal Collection’s Marine service shortly after his arrival from France into England. Having not been able to register his own mark, his colleague Paul Crespin marked the first and largest piece in the Service, the Neptune Centrepiece, as it was common practice amongst silversmiths at the time.  Throughout the decades, a number of English silversmiths copied items from the Marine Service as the Service was immensely popular amongst aristocracy due to its refined execution and theatrical presence. The Service was so treasured that George IV commissioned in 1827 an even grander stand for its Neptune Centrepiece, nearly 100 years after it was made, to keep the piece relevant in the ever-changing royal taste.  Its magnificent marine elements were extremely influential to the development of the Regency and George IV taste for spectacular pieces. The workshop of Rundell, Bridge and Rundell studied the pieces carefully before being able to design elements that could complement the style of the Service and, by 1820, virtually identical architectural marine elements can be found on a vast number of important pieces produced by Paul Storr and some other makers with royal association.  In 1803 Robert Garrard marks an extraordinary set of Four Gilt Wine Coolers for the 3d Baron of Grantham. The elaborate bases, of intertwined dolphins, is directly inspired by the Marine Service, proving how Garrard was already familiar with its astonishing details even before producing the sauceboats.                                                                                                                   We believe the present pair, marked by Robert Garrard and dated 1820, to be the same set that came to the market, through Christies’ auction house, as part of the majestic C. Ruxton and Audrey B. Love Collection, one of the greatest collections in the world of silver gilt pieces. Another pair was also sold at Christies in April 2004. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has two pairs of a very similar model, 97.68.1a-b, but executed in white silver, proving how popular this extraordinary design was.   It is not surprising that Robert Garrard II, silversmith and goldsmith to the Crown, is asked to produce more pieces modelled after the Marine Service items (for a similar case see a coffee pot from the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum M.18-1981, modelled by Garrard in 1835 following a famous Rococo model of 1760). By reproducing the Marine Service, considered as it was the most iconic Rococo group of plate, Garrard was pursuing the very common practice of paying homage to the grand masters that shaped English art history, carving out a place for himself amongst them.  Chiara SPdF

Catalogue: Illumination in Isolation

28 April 2020

Dear Friends, As the quarantine period is extended, this week we decided to turn your attention to another exquisite selection of pieces, our collection of candlesticks.  Candlesticks and candelabra in domestic interiors have one of the most important tasks: to bring light to tables and to the daily activities of a family home. Nowadays we light candles for an extra elegant touch, to warm up the atmosphere of a room and for special occasions.  Along with this practical purpose, these objects also carried a symbolic and magical significance, visible in Old Masters paintings, as light also has the magical effect of revealing the truth. Caravaggio, Artemisia Gentileschi and El Greco are some of the artists who employed the symbolic meaning of candles in art. Dutch and Northern European still life painters often inserted candles (and precious candlesticks!) in their work as a reminder of the volatility of human life and its vanity. Even contemporary art has succumbed to the symbolic power of a candle’s flames as visible in Gerhard Richter’s Candles series from the 1980s.  As always, we hope to keep you company with this small catalogue and remember that we will be happy to reply to your enquiries, sharing more details on our beautiful pieces.  But for now, sit back, let this catalogue inspire your taste and…let there be light! The Directors and the Team at Koopman Rare Art Download your Copy Here

The Shield of Achilles

17 April 2020

Here at Koopman Rare Art, we are fortunate enough to be constantly surrounded by some of the most beautiful objects in the world. Seeing how excited we all are at such treasures, adds to our joy of temporary ownership. From the smallest Queen Anne taperstick to the largest Regency mirror plateau, all our pieces have been carefully handpicked as the most representative examples of taste and elegance throughout the different periods and styles.  Sometimes, though, we are particularly proud to be able to present to our public some truly spectacular pieces, iconic silver items made by exceptional makers for exceptional patrons.  Among these, a very special place is held by The Shield of Achilles, made in 1823 to mark the occasion of the Royal Coronation of King George IV, a piece conceived by the most important artists and intellectuals of the time who worked relentlessly to produce the finest and most spectacular object ever made.  The King of Hanover's Shield of Achilles Silver-gilt London, Sterling standard, 1823 Maker’s mark of Philip Rundell for Rundell, Bridge & Rundell Diameter: 35 ¾ in (89.7 cm) Weight: 723 oz (22,490 g) The research on its history has been a particularly exciting journey to me as my personal connection to the Shield and its mythology goes back a long way. Growing up in Italy, amongst the mystery and beauty of the classical ruins that Rome is so full of, I started studying the Iliad at a very young age in primary school. In Italy, classical poems and culture are regarded as fundamental to modern society and as we live in its legacy, we are naturally inclined to learn about it.  My personal fascination for the Shield also goes back to when I had the privilege to be involved in a large cataloguing project at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  Working together with the Decorative Arts Historian, Michael Snodin, we examined and studied several hundred designs on paper for silver objects, mainly from the Regency period. A large group of drawings came from the workshops that served the biggest royal makers such as Rundell, Bridge and Rundell, and amongst them, several were preparatory sketches for scenes on the Shield of Achilles. Being able to study such an amazing quantity of primary material immediately had a bewitching effect on me and the Shield soon became a quasi-obsession.  The firm of Rundell, Bridge and Rundell reached the peak of its fame when it presented its most famous project: the Achilles’ Shield. This object exemplifies both the complexity of the very smart business system and what Regency Neoclassicism is all about: creating objects that are even more spectacular than the original antique ones. The Iliad is an epic poem written around the VIII century BC by the Greek poet Homer, which recounts some of the significant events of the final weeks of the legendary war that happened in Troy (whose original name was Ilium, hence Iliad), that took place around the XII century BC.   One of the main characters, the warrior Achilles, goes to war with a beautiful silver shield made by the Gods and described in the book.  John Flaxman, the designer of the piece, is one of the most important minds behind the development of the Neoclassical style in England. He worked as a sculptor and draughtsman and was employed by the firm Rundell, Bridge and Rundell to design some of their most architectural and elaborate presentation pieces.  Between the years 1804 and 1820, John Flaxman was asked to design the prototype of the famous Achilles’ Shield, conceived as a presentation piece for the newly crowned King George IV. He first conceived the project as early as 1793, when he illustrated the English translation of William Pope but, this time, he understood that it is the glory of the British nation that must  be celebrated by the Shield. George IV himself was keen to be recognised as the embodiment of the prosperous times: a period of military and colonial victories, of science and enlightened industrialisation and of superb cultural refinement and education.  John Flaxman, 1809-10. A design for the Border of the Shield in the Collection of The Victoria and Albert Museum, E.1073-1980 We are all familiar with the main classical epic poems, as they are are nowadays considered part of the literary canon universally recognised as masterpieces; books that helped the development of human thought and built the foundations of civilization. Anyone can recognise themselves in the struggles that Homer’s characters face; human instincts are explored and expressed in a complexity that covers every possible aspect of human life. Love and passion, grief and suffering, anger and hatred, frustration and torment are expressed in such a comprehensive way as to make them part of the cultural patrimony that defines us as human beings.  The Shield of Achilles is among the great masterpieces of art history, and not just for its artistic value. It provides material evidence of the historical times both in its theoretical conception and in its physical making. It tells us the story of the relationships between some of the most influential art-makers of the Georgian period, who would shape art history and culture in the years to come.  Read more about the Shield of Achilles in our 2019 Catalogue downloadable from this link and, as always, we would love to read your thoughts and impressions on today’s blog post at  Written for first publication: TEFAF Maastricht 2019, Chiara SPdF  

Thirty Under Thirty

09 April 2020

Dear Friends, In these uncertain times we would like to let you know that here at Koopman Rare Art we remain committed to inspire you with the finest range of Antique Silver Pieces. This small catalogue of beautiful pieces under £30,000 has been put together with the hope of keeping you company during these unsettling times, brightening your day with precious objects and new ideas. We invite you to explore our collection online where each of our incredible pieces tells a mesmerising story of art, love and beauty. Prices are available on our website on a variety of items to inspire (and tempt!) you. Do enquire on pieces you are interested in; we are always happy to share more details with other decorative arts enthusiasts and don’t forget to check our social media for daily inspiration! The Directors and the Team at Koopman Rare Art Download your Copy Here

The Antique Plate Committee

30 March 2020

I am very proud to say, that for this past year, I have had the priveledge and honour of being involved with The Antique Plate Committee at the Goldsmith's Hall. It has been a wonderful journey so far. Research has always been a side of silver that I have deeply enjoyed and sharing thoughts with experts from all areas of our industry has been immensley enjoyable. The Goldsmiths Hall have recently been looking at ways to enhance scientific analysis and also their database of Maker's marks and hallmarks and it is great to see how active we are in further protecting the public. The APC since 1939, is the internationally renowned body for adjudicating spurious silver articles. It is the only body in the world to do so.  It advises the Assay Office on the authenticity of an article's provenance - decisions on which are usually based on three vital elements:  The hallmark  Connoisseurship of the experts Analytical testing process The Committee also advises on whether there has been an illegal alteration or an addition to the piece, whether it could be an electrotyping, or if the hallmarks have been transposed or cast. Since 1478, the hallmark has included a distinctive date letter indicating the year of hallmarking. The temptation to make an article appear older than it is by using counterfeit punches, or by transferring a genuine hallmark from an antique into a modern article has proved too great for some. This is an offence under the Hallmarking Act (1973). It is also an offence to alter a hallmarked article without the written permission of an assay office. Articles altered legitimately bear an 'additions' mark, or are issued a certificate which approves change of use.  The APC comprises of fifteen expert members, including dealers, restorers, academics and collectors who serve for a fixed term. The Committee is supported by an extended panel of volunteers who also report and inspect potential problems in the trade. Procedure: All articles submitted for examination by the panel are sampled. To date test the piece a drawing is taken and the sample is compared on our ICP-OES Spectrometer to other known reference samples from the Goldsmiths' Collection.  They will also compare the date mark with genuine hallmark plates of the period.  Each year has its corresponding, unique mark and these are held in our archives. The Committee's decision is final. Submitting Articles to the Antique Plate Committee: The Antique Plate Committee meet on a quarterly basis. Goods need to be submitted for inclusion at least one month prior to the meeting. Treatment of Unauthorised marks: Section 7 of the Hallmarking Act (1973) specifies how an assay office must deal with unauthorised marks and unauthorised alterations and additions. Depending upon the age of the article, the unauthorised marks will be cancelled. The owner then has the option of submitting it for hallmarking as a new article, and being charged accordingly, or having it marked with LAO (our Sponsor's Mark) and the case number given by the APC. The owner, or person appearing to have control of the article, is informed by a letter from the Assay Office of the decision of the Committee. This may be a simple statement that the article complies with the Hallmarking Act (1973). For articles which do not comply with the Act, the treatment of the marks, and the subsequent options are specified. Timo Koopman  

True Treasure: The American Independence Box

07 November 2019

This splenid gold box commemorates the recognition of the independence of the United States of America by the King of France Louis XVI Of rectangular cut corners shape in four colour gold with glass panels containing miniature watercolour views, of which one is signed J F Genillion for Jean Baptiste François Genillion (1750- 1829). The borders in vari-colour gold decorated with foliage and framed by ionic columns. The gold lined interior with the inscription: “Inscription sul l’Obelisque. Du règne de Louis XVI. Ce port sera à jamais un monument de sa bienfaisance, un refuge a toutes les nations, un asile à la marine militaire et un motif de reconnaissance envers un monarque qui ne règne que par ses bienfaits. MDCCLXXX” (In the reign of Louis XVI. This port will always be a monument of his benevolence, a refuge for all the nations, a shelter to the military navy and a reason of gratitude towards a monarch who reigned for nothing but his good actions. 1780). Paris, 1789 Maker’s Mark of Jacques Felix Vienot Width: 8.3 cm, 3.26 in Height: 3.2 cm, 1.25 in This historical and important gold box marks a very significant episode of political history. In the year 1780 an obelisk was erected in the main square of the town of Port Vendres, in the French region of the Eastern Pyrenees. The monument paid homage to the benevolence of the King Louis XVI for recognising the Independence of the United States of America in the 1780 Treaty of Versailles. Obélisque élevé à la gloire de Louis XV sur la place du Port Vendres, Charles de Wailly. Musée du Louvre, Paris. The town of Port Vendres was chosen to host the monument for being the conventional point zero in geographical measuring in the French system, from which elevations are evaluated, allowing metric measuring of the altitude of all other countries. The town gained importance in the XVIII Century, due to its strategic position being the last French port before the border with Catalonia, and it was chosen as the one of the major ports for commerce with the United States. In the 1770's, Comte de Mailly, Lieutenant General of the province of Roussillon, was in contact with Benjamin Franklin (see extract from letter below) and was involved in France’s support for the thirteen states in their fight for independence from Britain. He also wanted to make Port Vendres a modern site and the royal architect, Charles de Wailly, was asked to design the prospect of the heart of the town: the port and the main square centred by the Obelisk in a modern Neoclassical style.   The Obelisk, which is illustrated on the base of this box, is still standing in the central square and it is in marble, crowned by a globe surmounted by a fleur-de-lys. It rests on four turtles that refer to the four continents as the four classical trophies at each corner also do. The four frontal sides of this box show the contents of the four panels designed by Charles de Wailly that appeared around the base of the obelisk and they each bear an inscription with a description of the scenes. “L’Amérique indépendante” shows the Royal frigate ship of King Louis XVI, la Sensible, entering the port of Falmouth, Massachusetts, in 1778 to support the treaty of allegiance and friendship of commerce signed with the newly born American State. On the stern of the boat is a Phrygian cap, symbol of both the French and the American revolution. It is of particular significance the fact that this decoration was chosen to appear on the frontal side of the base, the side facing the entrance of the port, greeting the incoming boats with such a powerful message of democracy, modernity and hospitality.     The left side displays “La Marine Relevée”, celebrating the port of Toulon, the northern principal base of the French navy, and the port of Brest, the southern and second most important port, meeting between “The Two Seas”, the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean thanks to the Canal du Midi, while a personification of Glory presides. The third side displays “La Servitude Abolie”, showing the King exiting the Palace to proclaim the freedom of the “Servants of the State” directly to his grateful people. “La Liberté du Commerce” concludes the narrative, with the personification of France and that of Freedom announcing to all nations the freedom of trade under the protection of the King.  These four bronze plaques, that used to adorn the base of the monument, have been removed in 1793, together with four naval ornaments, but were preserved, restored and applied again in 1989. The richly symbolic images on the panels are also documented in a lithograph currently in the City Library of Toulouse, and in a series of drawings, currently in the Metropolitan Museum of New York, proving the popularity and importance of the theme.  Bas-reliefs de l'obélisque de Port Vendres, part of the Fonds Ancely of the City library of Toulouse. The painter Jean Baptiste François Genillion, who painted the watercolours on the box, was known in his days for his realistic representations of marine subject and harbours’ views, and his hand is recognizable in the two views of Port Vendres that he adds to the top and the bottom of this box. The top shows the view of the bay, the inhabitants of the town immersed in their calm and diligent daily activities. The bottom shows the Obelisk standing proud against the dramatic scenario of the Pyrenees mountains. The four cut corners are also decorated with incredibly detailed views of the monument seen from the four different sides. The recognition of the Independence of the United States of America operated by the French King Louis XVI is an act of extraordinary importance and of unprecedented modernity as the King was always a supporter of the American emancipation from the British Empire. He was enlightened by the progressive ideas of Benjamin Franklin who, in those years, was a commissioner for the United States at the French court actively preaching in favour of religious tolerance and freedom from the British Empire. It is clear from the themes and the style of the panels on this box that Louis XVI was keen to present himself as a much more enlightened sovereign than his predecessors, whose despotic monarchic approaches lead to the revolutionary ideas that started circulating in France. His modesty is told by the way in which he is depicted in these images, as he abandons any regal attributes to present himself as a more common citizen, barely recognizable among the crowd of noblemen in his first-hand approach to state policies. The inscription inside the box quotes the dedication of the Obelisk to the Monarch, presenting him as an extremely generous King, devoted to guarantee peace for his people and dignity for all nations, including the newly founded United States of America as an example of democratic values in a time of corrupted policies in the old continent of the Ancien Régime.  Franklin Urging the Claims of the American Colonies Before Louis XVI, George Healy Ca 1847, American Philosophical Society Museum, Philadelphia. From the letters of Benjamin Franklin Chevalier de Mailly (unpublished) Paris ce 13 fevr. 1783 L’on m’a assurré, Monsieur, que les Etats unis de l’Amérique etaient dans l’intention de céder à dés conditions infiniment avantageuses des terreins ... ... états unis. Je vous prie de recevoir, Monsieur, Les assurances de L’inviolable attachement avec lequel J’ai l’honneur d’être. Votre très humble et très obéissant serviteur le Ch. de Mailly mq. de neelle Endorsed: Le Ch. de Mailly 23 Fevr. 1783 The goldsmith Jacques-Félix Vienot was based in rue de Harlay, St. Bartholomew parish. He was apprenticed to Jean-Barthélemy Nivert and registered his mark on 20th April 1785, a crowned fleur de lys, JFV, a star and two grains.

October - Hong Kong

07 November 2019

Last month saw the Koopman Rare Art team vist Hong Kong for our annual exhibtion at the Convention Centre with the Fine Art Asia Fair.  It is the season for art in October in this part of the world and collectors were keen to aquire the best treasures. This superb Chinese punch bowl is the best example we have ever seen come to the market in terms of its size, quality and design. Referred to as the 'Chin Chin Plate' is was created for the annual Amoy horse races or Xiamen as it is known as today. A Chinese 19th Century Bowl on Stand Silver and Original Carved Wood Stand Shanghai, circa 1890 Maker’s mark DA JI Retailed by Hung Chong & Co in Shanghai Diameter: 39 cm, 15.35 in Weight: 4960 gr, 159.49 oz Inscription referring to the Amoy Races, the modern city of Xiamen Hung Chong & Co was a retail silversmith with its own manufactory or workshop and was owned by Fok Ying Chew. The retail store opened in 1892 after the manufactory began. The following article appeared in a 1908 published travel journal of an Englishman and repeated verbatim: “The Chinese are admittedly clever craftsmen and the silver-ware which they manufacture is very popular with collectors of Eastern curios and souvenirs by reason of its quaint beauty. Among the leading gold and silversmiths in Shanghai are Messrs. Hung Chong & Co., who deal largely also in blackwood furniture, embroideries, silk piece goods etc. Their premises at 11b Nanking Road always present a very attractive appearance. The business was established in 1892 by Mr Fok Ying Chew, who sold it in 1906 to the present proprietor, Mr Sum Luen-sing. The large trade carried ion necessitates the employment of fourteen assistants and forty-workmen. Mr Sum Luen-sing is the son of Mr Sum Cheuk Sing and was born in Macao in 1871. He studied English in Shanghai and at the age of sixteen joined the “Limpu” Line of steamers. After remaining in this employment for three years, he obtained a post with the “Kang-yue” Line. He joined Hung Chong & Co. as an assistant in 1892. He is married and has one son and daughter.” The journal is, I believe, slightly misleading since there is evidence that Hung Chong was manufacturing silver before the Treaty of Nanking in 1842 as several pieces are recorded with the Hung Chong mark in the form of a pseudo-hallmark. If the journal account is true, then it would be reasonable to assume the retail shop opened in 1892, although even this seems late for a business that was so established by 1900. Hung Chong was obviously a destination in Shanghai if one wanted to make a statement in silver or to acquire something suitable for an occasion that required a measured, but palpable, degree of pomp and circumstance. The following item, a stemmed punch bowl circa 1875 in the grand Chinese style with most of the organ stops activated! It now takes pride of place in the Huntingdon Museum of Art, West Virginia, USA. Another fabulous piece of silver from the establishment of Hung Chong. Hung Chong, by default of it being a retail silversmith, was obviously dependent upon artisan silversmiths to create items in the ever-evolving style that Hung Chong became famous for. Hong Kong is a truly international city and the areas of interest for the collector are just as diverse. The best of the English silversmiths in Paul Storr was of keen interest and this tea urn by the great master was sold during the fair. A George IV silver tea urn made in London, 1824, by Paul Storr. Of compressed circular form, the pull-off cover with part-fluted decoration an leaf and bud finial. The main body with gadrooned borders and cast fluted leaf-capped handles. It is also engraved with a monogram surrounded by mantling and with part-fluted lower section.The cast spout modelled in the form of Apolloneon eagle's-head with a shell thumbpiece, on a pedestal stem, circular foot and canted square base issuing cast acanthus and shell-capped feet. This suberb piece formed part of the exciting exhibtion we held on Paul Storr silver back in 2015. We look forward to our next trip abroad this coming January with the WInter Show in New York and look forward to welcoming you there. Timo Koopman  

TEFAF Maastricht 2019: The Verdict

02 April 2019

We have just returned from an extremely busy and exciting show at TEFAF Maastricht. This years 2019 proved to be strong as ever. TEFAF Maastricht, the worlds leading art Fair, continues to act as a beacon for the art market, welcoming around 70,000 visitors during the course of the Fair. This year 276 exhibitors, of which 38 were new to the fair, show 7,000 years of art history across categories that cover fine art, antiques, jewellery and design. A Fine George III Bread Basket. Made in London, 1817 by Paul Storr for the Duke of Northumberland. Interest in decorative arts & antiques were strong. There were substantial sales in early 19th century objects, particularly by Paul Storr including a rare basket (above) and a magnificent set of candlesticks (below). A Set of Four George III Candlesticks. Made in London, 1808 by Paul Storr for Sir Henry Mainwaring, 1st Baronet of Over Peover. Other noteworthy sales in 19th century silver also included this important and rare set of eight silver-gilt coasters (below). They bear the crest of Charles-Talbot, 2nd Earl Talbot. A Set of Eight George III Silver-Gilt Coasters. Made in London in 1817 by William Burwash for Charles-Talbot, 2nd Earl Talbot Interest in silver from this period was further enhanced with one of the fair highlights; The Shield of Achilles (below). Known as one of, if not, the most important silver-gilt objects to made in the 19th century, the shield attracted many visitors and museum curators alike. As part of the official TEFAF tour this silver-gilt masterpiece was viewed by thousands of people and gained much publicity. The Shield of Achilles. A Highly Important George IV Shield for The King of Hanover. Made in London, 1823 by Philip Rundell Important Rococo silversmiths were also incredibly sought after. Names like Paul de Lamerie and Eliza Godfrey have always been placed at the top of their category. This year we were fortunate enough to display and sell numerous objects by Paul de Lamerie. A rare pair of George II candelabra by Eliza Godfrey (below) also sold amongst other treasures from the Rococo period. A Pair of George II Candelabra. Made in London, 1751 by Eliza Godfrey for William, 5th Earl of Dumfries Within decorative arts, the objects of vertu gained much appreciation too. Austrian rock crystal, agate, gold and enamel objects that form part of the ‘kunstkammer’ collecting proved popular with visitors. Amongst our display of treasures were two of our highlights, both of which sold at the fair. (See below) An Extremely Large Austrian Silver-gilt, Enamel & Gem-set New. Made in Vienna, circa 1890 by Hermann Bohm A Fine Austrian Silver-gilt, Rock Crystal & Gem-set Conucopia. Made in Vienna, circa 1890 by Hermann Bohm Our next event will be held in London at the Masterpiece fair in the grounds of Chelsea Hospital which opens for preview on 26th June and then runs from 27th June to 3rd July.

The Charles Mercer Ewer: A Gift From The King

13 November 2018

  Sir James Mercer, whose London house was in Axe Yard, Westminster (where Samuel Pepys lived between August 1658 and July 1660), was appointed Gentleman usher to Charles II in January 1661. Gentlemen Ushers originally formed three classes: Gentlemen Ushers of the Privy Chamber, Gentlemen Ushers Daily Waiters, and Gentlemen Ushers Quarterly Waiters. The number of ordinary ushers of these classes were fixed at four, four, and eight, respectively, but ushers “in extraordinary” were sometimes appointed. Mercer was a Gentleman Usher Daily Waiter. John Michael Wright’s portrait of King Charles II, in the Royal Collection   Legend has it that ondemned one of his grooms to be hanged for stealing a bowl of corn. The man was hanged on an old tree and with his dying breath, uttered the curse that the Mercers would have no male heirs for 19 generations. Sir James’ son Charles, godson to the king, was born and died in 1667. His sister Jean became heir to her father in 1672 but died the same year. Her sister Grizell became heir but died unmarried in 1706. Another sister, Helen, then became heir and married a cousin, Sir Laurence Mercer of Melginche. Their son James Mercer, became heir upon his mother’s death in 1720, but died the same year. His sister Jean became heiress and married Robert Murray Nairne. He was killed at the battle of Culloden as Colonel Mercer, having adopted the name. Their son, James Mercer of Aldie, became heir in 1750 but died unmarried in 1758. His brother William became heir in 1759 but he and his wife Margaret had no sons. Their daughter Jane became heir and married George Elphinstone, Viscount Keith, and they had a daughter Margaret Mercer Elphinstone, Baroness Keith and Nairne, who married Auguste Charles Joseph, Conte de Flahaut, and they only had daughters. Their daughter Emily Jane married Henry, the 4thMarquess of Lansdowne, who took the name Mercer Nairne and they had a son, the 5th Marquess of Lansdown, so the curse was finally broken. Engraving of the Coat of Arms of Mercer impaling Stewart for Sir James Mercer   His only son Charles was christened in June 1667 in the presence of his godfather, the king, whose gift of 80 ounces of gilt plate to mark the event is recorded in the Jewel Office warrant books in the National Archives. Writing afterwards to his father-in-law, Mercer recalled that “His Majesty on the occasion was very jovial, without any sort of drinking”. This elegant ewer was part of that royal gift. The ewer on pedestal foot, the body engraved with a coat-of-arms within a plume cartouche above cut-card trefoils, hard-shaped handle. Silver-gilt, London circa 1667. Maker’s mark “HW”, an escallop below for Henry Welch.   The same maker’s mark has been recorded on an otherwise unmarked Charles II silver two-handled porringer and cover of about 1670, engraved with the arms of Ralph Cotton of Bellaport, co. Salop and Newcastle-under-Lyme, which was sold at Sotheby’s, London, on 24 March 1960, lot 40.  

MASTERPIECE London: ‘The Unmissable Art Fair’

31 July 2018

Coined ‘The Unmissable Art Fair’; With 160 International exhibitors of art, design, furniture, jewellery and antiquities Masterpiece London really is one of the most prestigious art fairs in the world. Sat in the grounds of The Royal Hospital Chelsea, dealers from around the world bring the best of the best covering more than 6000 years of art and history. This year 31 newcomers increased the size of this ever-expanding fair by 15%. While early items were well sought after, decorative silver proved to be particularly strong for us with names like Paul Storr, Benjamin Smith and Garrard receiving much interest. Here are some of our highlights: A Highly Important Set of Six George I Royal Candlesticks made in London, 1718 by Nicholas Clausen This rare set of six candlesticks made for King George I sold for a significant six figure sum on the opening night. They each bear the Royal coat-of-arms. The Baring Warwick Vase made in London, 1814 by Paul Storr This exceptional George III silver-gilt Warwick vase also sold at the fair to a private collector. Bearing the coat-of-arms of the Baring family, It was made for Sir Thomas Baring, 2nd Baronet, who was the eldest son of Francis Baring, founder of Barings Bank. A Victorian Peridot & Diamond Heart Cluster Pendant Sales in jewellery and gold boxes were also buoyant. Demand for the highest quality is certainly ever-present. We look forward to seeing our clients and friends at our next upcoming fairs later this year in Hong Kong and New York. Please see our events page for more details.  

Bullish: TEFAF Maastricht

30 March 2018

We have just returned from an extremely busy and exciting show at TEFAF Maastricht. This years 2018 proved to be one of the best ever. The 70,000 plus visitors that came this year were once more wowed by the amazing exhibits to be seen and keen to have them as additions to their collection. Dealers, collectors, curators and institutions were all there in force.   A Set of Four George II Candlesticks. London, 1745 by Paul Crespin. Designed by William Kent   This superb set of four candlesticks made for Henry Fiennes Pelham-Clinton the 2nd Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyme sold for a significant six figure sum. A comparable but later set of candlesticks can be found at the V & A and Metropolitan museums. An Exceptional George III Ambassadorial Mirror Plateau. London, 1806 by Digby Scott & Benjamin Smith   In addition a Royal ambassadorial mirror plateau made for Charles William, 1st Baron Stuart was also sold. This plateau, bearing both the arms of Stuart and the Royal arms of King George III was supplied by the Jewel House for our new ambassador serving in Vienna. Buying was strong internationally and sales of gold boxes and jewellery were also to be noted.   Our next event will be held in London at the masterpiece fair in the grounds of Chelsea Hospital which opens for preview on 27th June and then runs from 28th June to 4th July.  

Winter Warmers: Silver to Stop the Shivers

14 November 2017

  The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting darker and the jingle of Santa’s sleigh is growing ever louder. What better excuse to cosy down by a roaring fire with a mug of cocoa or a good brew!    Paul Storr (Westminster 1771 – Tooting 1844), A George IV ‘Chinoiserie’ Teapot, Silver & Wood, London, 1828, Retailed by Storr & Mortimer. Available at Koopman Rare Art. (Pictured above)   Koopman Rare Art have just the thing to sort that winter chill and get you all warmed up. The pieces we have selected are not only extremely useful for serving hot water, coffee, chocolate and brewing tea but are also beautiful and elegant. This stunning antique silver tea urn by Paul Storr is beautifully elegant and detailed with a crown and griffin finial and gadrooned rim. The handles are cast with lion masks and the spout is formed as a rather lovely goose. The urn is supported on a square base ending in paw feet. This urn is perfect for dispensing hot water to make tea with a tap that allows for easy pouring.     Paul Storr (Westminster 1771 – Tooting 1844), A George III Silver Tea Urn, George III, London, 1809 Bearing the arms of Sir Gore Ouseley, Ambassador to Persia .Available at Koopman Rare Art.   Early examples of tea urns were made to rest upon a brazier. The brazier held charcoal that burnt to produce heat. Hot air rising from the brazier passed through a fixed vertical copper tube inside the urn heating the surrounding water. Braziers were also used for warming plates, lighting cigars and cigarettes or for generating heat to sit around at the dinner table. We have a couple of magnificent braziers one dating to circa 1660, made in Palma, Mallorca.   A Large and Impressive Spanish Brazier, Silver-Gilt. Palma, Majorca, circa 1660. Available at Koopman Rare Art.   This Mallorcan brazier has a semi-spherical bowl, with a dotted outer border and two oval-shaped handles on the sides. The base which it is fixed has a hexagonal shape. It is made up of two overlying structures which have their own platforms decorated with embossed foliage motifs, oval mirrors, pyramids topped with ball and fantastic beings. A rare and exquisite piece of silver-gilt this could serve as not only a brazier but a centrepiece to any dining table.   Paul de Lamerie (Hertogenbosch 1688 – London 1751) A Spectacular Silver Brazier, London, 1745 .Available at Koopman Rare Art.   This is a later example of a brazier made in London 1745 by important silversmith Paul de Lamerie. The four lions faces that appear on the side of the brazier are of the most exceptional and striking quality. Unlike the conventional lions heads which are seen on other silver pieces of the period these are completely out of the ordinary in terms of their realism and expression. This is a phenomenal piece of tableware that deserves to be seen as much more than simply a brazier. Feeling a bit warmer ? Now for some hot cocoa… This magnificent George II silver chocolate pot dates to London 1759 and was made by Fuller White. The pot is decorated with a gadroon border with a detachable fluted finial and detachable cover secured by a pin terminating in a heart motif. The brilliant spout is decorated with leaf and scroll-embellishments all terminating in an eagle’s head. They may say ‘It’s what’s on the inside that counts’ but we can assure you it tastes so much better when the outside is as beautiful as this chocolate pot!   Fuller White, George II Silver Chocolate Pot, London, 1759. Available at Koopman Rare Art.   Hot chocolate not your winter warmer? How about a good strong coffee to help you through the cold winter mornings ? This stunning Paul Storr coffee pot on stand is an exceptional example of a coffee pot on its original burner. It is in wonderful condition and is beautifully decorated throughout to the highest quality as would be expected by Storr’s work.   Paul Storr (Westminster 1771 – Tooting 1844), A Fine George III Silver Coffee Pot on burner, London, 1816 . Available at Koopman Rare Art.   These works are available to view and purchase in our gallery located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS or on our website For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on: 0207 242 7624 /

Best of: TEFAF New York Fall

09 November 2017

  We have returned from a busy and exciting show at TEFAF New York Fall. In its second year, the fair proved successful encouraging dealers, collectors, art enthusiasts and curators from across the globe, especially from the Americas.     “We are delighted to report bullish sales for antique silver at the second TEFAF New York Fall Fair” Lewis Smith, Director of Koopman Rare Art.     A sumptuous pair of Victorian marine inspired table centre dessert bowls, made in London, between 1838 and 1848, sold for a significant six figure sum. These stunning bowls are elaborately chased with shells, rockwork and spume and each supports a crested clam pulled by a conch-blowing triton. The bowls bear the maker’s mark of Paul Storr and John Samuel Hunt for Storr & Mortimer and are engraved with the Tollemache crest John Jervis Tollemache, 1st Baron Tollemache, for Peckforton Castle in Cheshire (asking price £245,000). Art works from Peckforton Castle, including these imposing Storr bowls were sold through Christies in London in May 1953.   In addition another a monumental centre-piece jardinière made by Robert & Sebastian Garrard in 1877 for the Worshipful Company of Grocers, one of the great 12 Livery Companies of the City of London also went to a private collector. Garrard was responsible for an impressive group of plate for the Company, including candelabra and entrée dishes, all decorated with their arms and camel crest. This jardinière was sold by the Grocers’ Company, along with other pieces of silver in 1969.   If you were unable to visit us at TEFAF New York take a look at the virtual tour of our stand and click on the ‘eyes’ to find out more information about some of our highlights.     “The Fair has definitely established itself as a major event in the international art calendar. Aside from sales, the interest and enthusiasm for great works of art was palpable. New Yorkers, and visitors from further afield are clearly receptive to such a high quality event. We were delighted to sell to new clients as well as a few of our regular collectors who we know from TEFAF Maastricht.” Lewis Smith, Director of Koopman Rare Art.     Buying was strong across the board. Aside from antique silver, interest in gold boxes remains high and several particularly fine examples found new homes. In addition Koopman Rare Art also offered a small selection of precious jewellery items, a number of which sold including a Cartier Brooch.   We will be exhibiting at TEFAF Maastricht, the world’s leading art and antiques event, at the Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre (MECC) 10 to 18 March, 2018.   Our gallery is located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS or on our website   For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on: 0207 242 7624 /

Guilty Pleasure: Sumptuous Silver-Gilt

02 November 2017

  Joseph Preedy, An Important Pair of Royal George III Wine Coolers, Silver-gilt, London, 1801. Available to Purchase at Koopman Rare Art. (pictured above)     Man has long been fascinated with the glitter of gold but its high cost and great softness rendered it impractical for many purposes. Demand for gold drove silversmiths to devise methods of applying gold to silver in order to finish objects with a luxurious radiance. Silver dipped or plated in gold is called silver gilt or vermeil in French.   Elkington & Co., A Fabulous Pair of 19th Century Candelabra, Silver-Gilt, Birmingham, 1889. Available to Purchase from Koopman Rare Art.     The process of gilding has developed through the ages and differed across the globe. In pre-Columbian South America Incas used depletion gilding by producing a layer of nearly pure gold on an object of gold alloy by the removal of other metals from its surface. Another popular ancient process, mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, was the method of overlaying or folding of gold leaf. Fire gilding with mercury was another process, which involved applying an amalgam of gold and mercury to the silver surface. The heat caused a strong bond between the gold and silver. This process was commonly used from the sixth century BC until quite recently. Electroplating has now taken over from this process using electrolysis to coat the surface with gold.   William Burwash, The Talbot Wine Coasters, Silver-Gilt, London, 1817. Available to Purchase at Koopman Rare Art.     The process of gilding, however was costly. While in 1664 Samuel Pepys complained that the cost of ‘fashion’ or the making of a piece, had risen to the same level as the raw material itself (both were 5 shillings an ounce) gilding the finished article could cost an additional 3 shillings an ounce. Gilding added approximately 25 percent to the total cost; this was considerably more than commissioning an object in silver yet still less than one in gold. By the Middle Ages European gold was worth ten to twelve times more than silver but by the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the price ratio had risen to fifteen to one. Even so achieving the golden look through gilding became ever more popular.   Luke Clennell (1781–1840), The Banquet Given by the Corporation to the Prince Regent, the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia, 18 June 1814 (The Allied Sovereigns’ Banquet). Displayed at The Guildhall Art Gallery, Courtesy of the City of London Corporation.       Silver gilt objects were often used as status symbols as exemplified by this painting of the guildhall banquet by Luke Clennell held in 1814 for the prince regent the Tsar of Russia and the King of Prussia. One dinner service is in silver gilt the other quite intentionally in silver – superior guests presented with silver gilt and the less important with silver! Another important service is The Grand Service held in the Royal Collection. This magnificent silver-gilt dining service was commissioned by George IV. It is made up of over 4000 pieces for dining and display made by Rundell, Bridge & Rundell costing £60,000. The Grand Service is used today for all state banquets. Watch the video below taken from within Buckingham Palace showing the ballroom being prepared for a state banquet with the beautiful and elaborate silver-gilt Grand Service.           Some of the most famous silver-gilt services throughout history belonged to General Count Francois Xavier Branicki, Count Nikolai Demidoff and the Borghese service. At Koopman Rare Art pieces from these three collections have passed through the doors and are most certainly some of the most impressive pieces of antique silver. The popularity for silver-gilt soar on both sides of the channel and important silversmiths such as Maison Odiot, Martin Guillaume Biennais, Benjamin Smith and Paul Storr were leading the way. On a more practical note silver-gilt tarnishes at a slower rate, it is lighter in weight than pure gold and much more durable. Sometimes for this reason the inside of silver pieces would be lined with gold a design called parcel-gilt like these salts by Philip Rundell to help preserve the inside from acid corrosion and tarnishing.     Philip Rundell (1746 – 1827), A Set of Four George III Silver Salts, London, 1819. Available to Purchase from Koopman Rare Art.   Take a look at our collection of silver-gilt on our website to see the range of pieces we have for sale.   All of these works are available to view in our gallery located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS or on our website   For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on:  0207 242 7624 /

KRA’s Guide to Terms & Techniques: The Intricacy of Guilloche

26 October 2017

  Alexander James Strachan, A George III Gold Engine Turned Snuff Box, Marked 18ct, London, 1818. Available to Purchase at Koopman Rare Art. (Pictured above)   Guilloche or engine turning is the term given to very fine, intricate geometric patterns which are mechanically engraved into soft materials such as wood, ivory, silver and gold. The machine used to produce this effect is called a lathe which uses a rotating drive which turns the piece being worked on against changeable cutting tools. A rose engine lathe was introduced later, which allowed for more intricate design and repetition of motif.   This precious bound book has been decorated using a rose engine lathe. It creates a mesmerizing effect across the gold box.     Alexander James Strachan, An Exquisite Georgian Book Snuff Box, Marked 18ct, London, 1803. Available to Purchase at Koopman Rare Art.   Engine turning can be traced back in history as far as the 15th century and is believed to have been first practiced on ivory and wood. However, the practice rose to prevalence in the European courts in the 17th century, 18th & 19th centuries. It was common for royal courts to have dedicated rooms for turning where skills could be watched for education and entertainment. Some of the most prestigious designs made by lathes have come from the workshops of rulers including Maximilian I of Austria, Tsar Peter the Great of Russia, Louis XV and King James I among a long list of others. Guilloche on metal is believed to have begun between 1700-1750. Guilloche on gold and silver became particularly popular in the mid to late 19th century peaking between 1880-1930. In particular Faberge was renowned for intricate and extensive guilloche that was used on the backgrounds of transparent enamels to create a gem like glow and optical spectacle. This technique was used by Karl Faberge to create his iconic eggs for Tzar Alexander III of Russia. The rose engine cut a series of parallel lines into the metal surface onto which the enamel was applied.   Alexander James Strachan, A Georgian Toothpick Case, Marked 18ct, London, 1815. Available to Purchase at Koopman Rare Art.       Alexander Strachan One of the most renowned goldsmiths working with guilloche to the most unprecedented standard was Alexander Strachan (1774-1850). Strachan registered his mark as a smallerworker at the Goldsmith’s Hall on 21st September 1799 whilst he was living at Long Acre in London. His insurance policy of 1824 descirbed him as a ‘Jeweller and Engine Turner’. Strachan was the principle supplier of gold boxes to Rundell, Bridge & Rundell who were the royal goldsmiths. Strachan also supplied the retailers Thomas Holland and Coward & Smith. In 1839 he retired to Brighton where he struggled financially before finally passing in 1850. This gold oval snuff box is decorated with a central cartouche encircled by a laurel and filled with a four colour gold relief of an allegorical scene of music. The whole box is engine turned with laurel borders of swags and rosettes. The sides of the box with roundels topped with white gold ribbons depicting scenes of musical instruments.   Charles Le Bastier, A French Vari-Colour Oval Gold Box, Paris, 1778/1779. Available to Purchase at Koopman Rare Art.   Guilloche, the popular engraving technique was used for snuffboxes, jewellery and watches. Snuffboxes were ornamented boxes for holding snuff, a powdered tobacco. It was common practice in 17th century England to sniff or inhale a pinch of snuff. By the 18th century the practice had spread to other European countries. They were designed to either fit in the jacket pocket of a gentleman or be displayed on the dinner table for guests. It was an opportunity to illustrate your wealth and prestige through the quality and design of your snuff box. Top quality snuff boxes were made of gold and were sometimes decorated with portrait miniatures, enamelling, micromosaics or jewels. Snuff boxes were commonly decorated with engine turning and below we are exploring the different types of engraved designs engine turning could achieve. There are two main patterns of engine turning, rose engine and straight line. Here are a number of examples:   Here is a French gold snuff box made in Paris 1789 By Jean Edme Julliot. It is a canted rectangular form with engine decorated border with lattice panel of beaded and rose head decoration. The lid has been engine turned using a consecutive cut pattern as shown in the diagram below, a series of wavy lines which run parallel to one another.   A French gold snuff box , Paris 1789 By Jean Edme Julliot marks to lid and base, of canted rectangular form with engine decorated border with consecutive cut engine turn pattern on lid. Available to Purchase at Koopman Rare Art. Engine Turning Patterns. Courtesy of G. Phil Poirer. Follow link for an extremely interesting article on the history of guilloche.   To seen engine turning in progress take a look at the video below courtesy of Rio Grande. All of these works are available to view in our gallery located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS or on our website   For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on:    020 7242 7624 /   

Sweetmeats: Sugar, Spice & All Things Nice

20 October 2017

  John Henry Vere & William Lutwyche, A George III Silver-Gilt and Cut-Glass Nine Basket Epergne, London 1766. Available at Koopman Rare Art. (PIctured above)   The word sweetmeat originates from Old English and was a sweet delicacy such as a preserve, candied fruit or cake. The popularity for sweetmeats grew as the demand  for sugar increased. The introduction of sugar into the Western world not only changed cuisines and palates but lifestyle as sugar came to represent status and wealth.    Sugar was first manufactured in Asia circa 500BC. The production of sugar remained a mystery for many and it wasn’t until the eleventh century AD that sugar was introduced to Western Europe. Sugar came to Europe as a result of the Crusades returning home with stories of the sweet delicacy described as ‘new spice’ and was first recorded in Europe in 1099. Once the Europeans had tasted the delicacy there was an expansion in trade, the commodity was high in demand and the supply flooded in at a very high cost. It is recorded that Columbus took sugar cane to grow in the Caribbean as early as 1493. During the mid-seventeeth century a large number of sugar plantations were founded in West India. This sugar trade resulted in over 12 million humans shipped from Africa to the Americas between 1501 and 1867 as demand for labour to cultivate sugar increased. This increase in production made sugar much more widely available and the fashion for sweet food came as a consequence to the supply of sugar.       Digby Scott & Benjamin Smith, George III Sugar Vase, Silver, London 1805. Available at Koopman Rare Art.   Sugar became commonplace at the dinner table. It was initially served in boxes but this was not very convenient. Sugar casters were invented so sugar could be evenly dispensed and cast across the food. Casters are usually intricately pierced in the dome for even casting and solid bottoms to contain the sugar.  By the end of the seventeenth century smaller casters were made for pepper and salt.     Samuel Wood, Three George II Casters, Silver, London 1750. Available at Koopman Rare Art.       Sugar, was an expensive commodity during the Renaissance and was used to display wealth and status. Banquets would include a course purely of sweetmeats, a particular favourite of Queen Elizabeth I. It was a chance to show off culinary skills and create showpieces from the expensive commodity. Sugared almonds and walnuts were a true delicacy. A popular sweetmeat was leech. Leech was made with gelatine, milk, sugar and rosewater it was then cut into cubes and sometimes gilded displayed as a chequerboard, the Renaissance English Turkish delight !    Gold leaf was used to gild lemons, other fruit and gingerbread. Pynade was a mixture of honey, spices and pine nuts which were firstly boiled in a pan and then baked over the fire until crisp. Crystalised fruits and candied oranges and citrus fruit were popular, even candied horseradish (most certainly not for the faint hearted). Leche Lumbarde was a 15th century recipe which was a type of date bar that could be compared to today’s healthy energy bar. The dates were firstly softened in wine and then boiled together with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, ground bread and red sandalwood powder. The mixture would then be baked until dry.    Epergnes    John Henry Vere & William Lutwyche, A George III Silver-Gilt and Cut-Glass Nine Basket Epergne, London 1766. Available at Koopman Rare Art.   An epergnes is a centrepiece that usually holds sweetmeats. The word probably originated from the French épargne meaning ‘saving’. The idea was that each little dish held in the epergne could be passed around the table with ease, ‘saving’ larges dishes being passed around or waiters serving individual people around the dining table.    This magnificent silver-gilt & cut glass epergne was made by John Henry Vere & William Lutwyche in 1766. The central frame and each basket is fully marked. A fantastic centrepiece for any dining table and a perfect way to share deserts. The central basket was usually used to hold exotic fruit such as pineapples or flowers, but this is up to you !     Thomas Gilpin, A George II Epergne, Silver, London 1757. Available at Koopman Rare Art.    If gilt is not your style then this slightly earlier epergne by Thomas Gilipin, bearing the crest of the Earl of Shrewsbury, may be more up your street. Once placed in the centre of the Earl’s dining table we can only imagine the conversations which have been had and the sorts of people that have admired this beautiful epergne.   These works are available to view in our gallery located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS    For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on:    020 7242 7624 /   

Best of : Fine Art Asia, Hong Kong 2017

13 October 2017

  Last month we attended Asia’s leading fine art fair, Fine Art Asia in Hong Kong.  Koopman Rare Art have exhibited in Hong Kong since 2011 and have seen the fair grow from strength to strength. Our beautiful ewers by Edward Farrell printed on a huge scale looked fantastic at the entrance to the fair.     ‘We are delighted with the high level of positive interest in top quality silver as well as the number of sales achieved across the board’ Lewis Smith, Director       Lewis Smith, one of the directors of Koopman Rare Art, gave a guided tour of the Koopman Rare Art booth for UBS Global Art. It was a well attended talk and guests were interested in the history and glamour of the pieces.    This year we exhibited high quality examples of English and continental antique silver alongside a collection of over 50 pieces of Chinese export silver ranging in date from circa 1830 through to the first few decades of the 20th century.   ‘Not surprisingly, Chinese export silver generated a considerable amount of interest particularly by Chinese collectors who are keen to buy back what they regard as an important part of China’s silversmithing heritage.’ Lewis Smith, Director     We had interest not only from private collectors who are becoming increasingly aware of their much-forgotten silversmithing heritage but we also sold several rare and interesting pieces to a museum in mainland China.    Among the highlights sold was a Chinese export silver canister bearing the retailer’s mark of Cum Shing of Old China Street, Canton. The canister was ornately decorated with beautiful birds sitting in blossom trees together with climbing bamboo and chrysanthemum. The canister’s finial in the shape of dragon, an important symbol in Chinese heritage representing the Emperor and a commercially attractive design for Chinese buyers.     Cum Shing, Chinese Export Silver Canister, circa 1880. Sold at Fine Art Asia by Koopman Rare Art.     Decorative silver proved popular and silver by renowned silversmiths such as Paul Storr continue to be sought after. We also sold a pair of Paul Storr entree dishes made in London in 1810. The covers engraved on each side with coat of arms, motto and supporters below a coronet for William, 1st Earl of Lonsdale the bases with crest and royal garters, ‘honi soit qui mal y pense.’    Paul Storr, Pair of George III Entree Dishes & Covers, London 1810. Sold at Fine Art Asia by Koopman Rare Art.     We invite you to visit our gallery located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS   For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on:   020 7242 7624 /       

Stuart Devlin: Creativity is Paramount

09 October 2017

  Stuart Devlin carving plasters for Australian coins in 1963. Courtesy of The Sydney Morning Herald. (Pictured above) ‘I hope that my work reflects four maxims: That future is much more important than the past; That creativity is paramount; That skill is fundamental; And that the justification for being a goldsmith is to enrich the way people live and work.’ Stuart Devlin A set of eight Elizabeth II silver & silver-gilt wine glasses by Stuart Devlin, London 1969. Available at Koopman Rare Art, please enquire for details.   Today we are celebrating the birthday of Stuart Devlin, the modern day master silversmith, artist and designer. Stuart Devlin was born in Geelong, Australia in 1931. In 1957 he studied for a Diploma of Art in gold and silversmithing at Melbourne college. He was subsequently awarded scholarships to study at the Royal College of Art in London. Devlin continued to excel and after his studies he was awarded a fellowship by the Harkness Foundation of New York and he chose to spend the two year fellowship at Columbia University in USA. In 1962 he returned to Melbourne to teach. In 1964 he won a competition to design the first decimal coinage for Australia. Devlin went on to design coins and medals for 36 countries throughout the world including Singapore, Malaysia and precious coins for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. In 1965 Devlin set up a small workshop in London and began to develop his own style and trademark work. With old silversmithing techniques dying out Devlin endeavoured to develop new techniques and experiment with old techniques to produce different textures and forms, often juxtaposing a simple elegant form with a detailed, intricate silver-gilt decoration. Devlin held annual exhibitions at his workshop in Clerkenwell, each year producing a new collection pushing the boundaries of innovation and design offering over 250 pieces.    A set of eight Elizabeth II silver and silver-gilt cocktail glasses  Stuart Devlin, London, 1969.  Available at Koopman Rare Art, please enquire for details.     In 1982 Devlin was granted the Royal Warrant of Appointment as Goldsmith and Jeweller to Her Majesty the Queen. Some of his designs are now held in the Victoria & Albert Museum. Limited edition ranges and a steady and consistent output of new designs and collections each year helped establish Devlin as one of the leading contemporary silversmiths. Co-author of ‘Designer British Silver’ John Andrew explains how Devlin became bored with Bauhaus and Scandinavian design and Devlin wished to invigorate ‘smithing with richness and romanticism’. At its peak his studio employed 60 craftsmen and produced thousands of objects of all sizes and price ranges.    ‘He mixed gold and silver, introduced filigree, tactile surfaces instead of just plain silver. He cut the chains of tradition. He was really very radical.’ John Andrew    A set of twelve Elizabeth II silver & silver-gilt small beakers by Stuart Devlin, London 1968-69.  Available at Koopman Rare Art, please enquire for details.     One of Devlin’s most iconic and important commissions was the Millenium Dish. The dish was a celebration of the city of London illustrating 85 iconic buildings which represented London in 2000 around the rim of the dish. The dish was made for the Goldsmith’s company and was therefore decorated with the company’s coat of arms in the centre of the dish. Inscribed with the words ‘In the celebration of the Millenium, The city of London and the ancient craft of goldsmithing.’    1999 Millennium Dish by Stuart Devlin. Courtesy of the Goldsmith’s Company.     At Koopman Rare Art we hold a large stock of works by Stuart Devlin. Please do not hesitate to contact us for any further information or availabity. These works are available to view in our gallery located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS.   For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on: 020 7242 7624 /  

Run Along & Sneer: The Code of Woosters

05 October 2017

  John Schuppe, An 18th Century Silver Cow Creamer, London 1763. For sale at Koopman Rare Art. (Pictured above)     On 7th October 1928 P.G. Wodehouse’s novel The Code of the Woosters was published as the sequel to Right Ho, Jeeves by Herbert Jenkins and Doubleday, Doran.      A story tells the tale of the heated competition between two art collectors, both of which desire an especially valuable silver cow creamer.   Bertie Wooster, the narrator of the book, is asked by his Aunt Dahlia to help her source the cow creamer for her husband Tom. A recent unlucky spell had meant he was constantly out bid by other collectors for items he wholeheartedly desired. Aunt Dahlia orders Bertie to visit the antique dealer selling the valuable 18th century silver cow creamer and convince the dealer to knock down the price. However, the butler, Jeeves , suggests a more cunning plan. Bertie Wooster is sent to sneer at the cow creamer and declare it a mere Dutch modern copy in order to push the dealer’s price down.    Lowestoft Porcelain Factory, Cow creamer and cover, soft-paste porcelain, circa 1770. Courtesy of The British Museum.     Nonetheless, it does not go to plan bumping into the rival silver collector, Sir Watkyn in the shop. It is revealed that the collector has bought the creamer ahead of Tom Travers and taken it to his residences in Totleigh Towers.    In great despair Aunt Dahlia sends Bertie to recover the cow creamer which is now being guarded in the towers by Roderick Spode and the local police.    St. Anthony’s, Newcastle, Cow Creamer, circa 1790. Courtesy of the Keiller Collection at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Staffordshire.      Wodehouse’s novel brings this wonderful novelty cow creamer to light in a amusing tale. The cow creamer is eventually passed to Tom Travers and Bertie Woosters adventures are complete.    The Origin   The earliest examples of cow creamers originated in Holland in the shape of a cow with an opening or lid on its back for filling. From about 1740 these cow creamers became popular in England made in saltglaze stoneware from the Staffordshire potteries. From  1750 English silverware examples were being made. They have continued to be produced in both silver and ceramics. The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Staffordshire holds the Keiller collection of 667 ceramic cow-creamers. Some of the finest examples of cow creamers were made by silversmith John Schuppe.    John Schuppe was a Dutch émigré worker in London. In 1753 his mark was entered as largeworker to Little Deans Court, St. Martins Le Grand. By 1755 he was registered to 6 New Rents. Schuppe’s mark almost entirely appears on cream jugs modelled in the Dutch taste as cows but is occasionally met with other small fancies such as figure taper-sticks.    John Schuppe, An 18th Century Silver Cow Creamer, London 1763. For sale at Koopman Rare Art.     Some of these works are available to view in our gallery located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS.   For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on:   020 7242 7624 /        

Fine Art Asia 2017: Chinese Export Silver

27 September 2017

We are looking forward to exhibiting at Fine Art Asia in Hong Kong between 30th September to 3rd October at the Convention & Exhibition Centre. We wanted to preview some of our highlight pieces and provide some information and advice for collectors looking to buy Chinese Export silver. Porcelain arriving at Canton warehouse, Watercolour and ink on paper, Made in Canton circa. 1780. Courtesy of The Victoria & Albert Museum.   During the 18th & 19th centuries China under the Qing Dynasty became one of the major exporter of Chinese goods through the Chinese Canton System selling tea, spices and porcelain.  Historically, foreigners would trade in silver for tea, spices and other goods out of China. By 1800 the English East India Company was shipping more than 23 million pounds of tea.   Cum Shing, A Chinese Export Silver 19th Century Canister. For Sale at Koopman Rare Art.     Chinese export silver is normally 90% silver. It was made of Spanish dollars, the only currency the Chinese would accept for the trading of goods such as tea, silks, spices and tea.  Chinese export silver between 1800-1900 was usually quite plain with some simple engraved decoration. However, in order to comply with European Victorian taste Chinese silversmiths began ornately decorating pieces with dragons, landscapes, bamboo and other iconic Chinese symbolism to keep inline with Victorian aesthetic. However, Chinese silversmiths developed their designs in accordance with taste and the growing tourism and desire to explore China. Silversmiths started introducing iconic Chinese symbolism to ornately decorate pieces of silver.  Bao Chang,A 19th Century Chinese Ewer. For Sale at Koopman Rare Art.     Chinese export silver is now very popular. There has been an expansion in the Chinese market for Chinese export silver buying back what was made in their homeland. Items with symbols of the dragon are particularly popular as the dragon represents the Emperor and is therefore very commercial and desirable. Chinese taste in Chinese export silver now dictates the value.    There are a number of things to think about before purchasing piece of Chinese export silver.   Firstly and most importantly do you love the decoration and style ?   Buying a piece of silver is like buying a piece of art. You need to decide whether this is the piece that would suit your home and your collection. Does it fit in your home interior, compliment your living space and enhance your lifestyle?    Chinese Six Piece Tea & Coffee Set. For Sale at Koopman Rare Art.     Is the piece hallmarked, if so by who and in what condition are the hallmarks ?   Chinese silver unlike British silver was not regulated and therefore pieces are not always stamped with hallmarks. There was no assay offices or other standard marks to regulate the production of silver in China. Chinese export silver is commonly marked on the base with either an English of Chinese character mark. Chinese silversmiths made up Western sounding names to use as pseudonyms. Chinese export silver is sometimes marked with Chinese characters, English letters or English pseudo hallmarks to imitate the English hallmarks. This was popular as the silver was being exported for the Western market. If you have queries about the hallmarks always feel free to ask.    What is the provenance of the piece ?    Items were commonly engraved with inscriptions. This can be extremely useful in determining the history of a piece. Who did it belong to ? What was their position of power ? What was the date of presentation ? What was the reason for presentation ?    How old is the piece ?   The mid to late 19th century was the most important period of production. Items from this period were the most ornately decorated demonstrating the technical capabilities of Chinese silversmiths. Unlike English silver older is not always better. However, this does depend on your taste.    Wang Hing, A Pair of 19th Century Chinese Tazza. For Sale at Koopman Rare Art.        All of these works are available to buy at Fine Art Asia 2017 in Hong Kong or please contact the gallery if you would like to make an enquiry. If you require free tickets to the event please do not hesitate to contact us. Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS    For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on:   020 7242 7624 /   

Under the Sea: Poseidon & Amphitrite

26 September 2017

    In Greek mythology Amphitrite was one of the sea nymphs or goddesses named Nereids. She had 49 sisters and her parents were Nereus and Doris. Amphitrite was wife of Poseidon the god of the sea. Together they had two children, the sea god, Triton and Rhode. Amphitrite also had number of other children who were seals and dolphins.   According to legend Poseidon fell in love with Amphitrite after seeing her one day performing a dance on the isle of Naxos with her sisters. After initially refusing his offer of marriage she fled to Atlas. He sent a dolphin to find Amphitrite and persuade her to consider Poseidon’s proposal. The dolphin retrieved and brought Amphitrite to Poseidon’s side. The Dolphin was rewarded by being turned into a constellation.   Amphitrite by Jacques Prou, 1685       In Greek mythology Amphitrite was one of the sea nymphs or goddesses named Nereids. She had 49 sisters and her parents were Nereus and Doris. Amphitrite was wife of Poseidon the god of the sea. Together they had two children, the sea god, Triton and Rhode. Amphitrite also had number of other children who were seals and dolphins.   According to legend Poseidon fell in love with Amphitrite after seeing her one day performing a dance on the isle of Naxos with her sisters. After initially refusing his offer of marriage she fled to Atlas. He sent a dolphin to find Amphitrite and persuade her to consider Poseidon’s proposal. The dolphin retrieved and brought Amphitrite to Poseidon’s side. The Dolphin was rewarded by being turned into a constellation.     Sebastiano Ricci, Neptune And Amphitrite, Oil on canvas. Courtesy of Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid           Amphitrite was commonly depicted raising her hand in a pinching gesture and holding a fish. The goddess is usually shown riding beside Poseidon in a chariot drawn by sea creatures sometimes with a fishing net over her hair and her brown adorned with crab-claw ‘horns’. Amphitrite came to encompass the definition of the sea.   Jean-Baptiste-Gustave Odiot, A Magnificent Six-Piece Tea & Coffee Service on Tray. For sale at Koopman Rare Art.         This highly important tea set for sale at Koopman Rare Art is decorated with the mythological scene of Poseidon and Amphitrite – Comprising of a tea urn, coffee pot, teapot, covered sugar bowl, cream jug and waste bowl. Each piece is decorated with a cast and applied band of a fantastical scene of Poseidon, Amphitrite, and their children abreast of dolphins. The looping handles terminating in cornucopia. The finials formed as a floral spray. Detail of Jean-Baptiste-Gustave Odiot, A Magnificent Six-Piece Tea & Coffee Service on Tray. For sale at Koopman Rare Art.       Each piece is hallmarked to the underside and to the covers. The interiors of the waste bowl, sugar and cream are adorned with original gilding. The tray with a beaded and acanthus border again with looping handles terminating with cornucopia. The flat surface chased and engraved with vitruvian scrolls. The centre with a monogram.   Detail of Jean-Baptiste-Gustave Odiot, A Magnificent Six-Piece Tea & Coffee Service on Tray. For sale at Koopman Rare Art.       The set was made by silversmith Gustave Odiot in Paris circa, 1870. The best known silversmith of the Odiot dynasty is Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot (1763-1850). Gustave was Jean-Baptiste-Claude’s his grandson. Gustave applied Louis XVI decor to his designs, mixing styles and forms of decoration to develop a more individual way of working. Where his grandfather used sphinxes as central figures Gustave preferred to feature cherubs. Working with his father in the 1860s Gustave produced a number of pieces inspired by chinoiserie. In 1898 he received an appointment with the Russian court.   Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot (1763 – Paris 1850), A French ‘Royal’ silver Soup Tureen. For sale at Koopman Rare Art.     This is an extremely magnificent and wonderful tea set which illustrates the exquisite craftsmanship of Gustave, despite a life spent in the shadow of his grandfather and father, it is clear that he was highly talented.   Some of these works are available to view in our gallery located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS.   For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on:   020 7242 7624 /     Detail of Jean-Baptiste-Gustave Odiot, A Magnificent Six-Piece Tea & Coffee Service on Tray. For sale at Koopman Rare Art.  

The Portland Vase: Glass, Jasper, Silver

18 September 2017

Artefacts from classical antiquity have always fascinated man. In the 18th century this fascination grew ever stronger. A movement coined neo-classicism spread through the arts, literature, theatre, music and architecture.  One of the reason Neo-classicism rose to prominence was because of the establishment of formal archaeology and excavations. From 1730s onwards towns such as Pompeii and Herculaneum were turned into archaeological sites. David Allan, Sir William Hamilton, Oil on canvas. Courtesy of The National Portrait Gallery.       One of the most famous antiquarians was Sir William Hamilton, who bought The Warwick Vase from Gavin Hamilton. Sir William Hamilton accrued an extensive and impressive collection of art and artefacts including The Portland Vase.    The Portland Vase, Roman Circa. AD 1-AD 25. Courtesy of The British Museum.           The Portland Vase was supposedly excavated back in 1582 discovered by Fabrizio Lazzaro in the sarcophagus of the Emperor Alexander Severus at Monte del Grano near Rome. The Portland Vase is a Roman cameo violet-blue glass vase dated between AD 1 and AD 25. Surrounded by a single continuous white glass cameo depicting seven figures with a large snake with two bearded and horned heads below the handles. The figures around the sides of the vase are thought to depict the story of the marriage of Peleus and Thetis (D. E. L. Haynes, The Portland Vase, 1975, pp. 16-20) although there have been many interpretations of the figures.  The vase was first recorded in 1601 by the French scholar Nicolas Claude Fabri de Peiresc to the painter Peter Paul Rubens. Within the letter it stated that the Portland Vase was in the collection of Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte in Italy. The dark blue glass Portland Vase is now thought to be the upper section of a taller amphora-shaped vessel the bottom of which must have been broken off and the circular unrelated disc inserted at a later date.  It changed hands on a number of occasions until in about 1780 it was acquired by the antiquarian James Byres in Rome. He in turn sold it to Sir William Hamilton, British Ambassador to the Court of Naples, who was also to purchase the Warwick Vase, who brought it to London in 1783.   After Michael Dahl I, Dowager Duchess of Portland, Oil on canvas. Courtesy of Hardwick Hall, National Trust.           He sold it in the following year for 1,800 guineas to the Dowager Duchess of Portland for her museum of natural and artificial curiosities. On her death in 1785 it was acquired at auction by William, 3rd Duke of Portland and in 1810 was deposited at the British Museum for safekeeping by 4th Duke of Portland. In 1845 it was smashed into over two hundred pieces by William Lloyd although it was successfully restored. It was finally acquired by the British Museum in 1945.  Despite its great beauty the form did not lend itself to adaptation to a number of purposes in the same way as the ubiquitous Warwick Vase. Only a few of the vases which were fitted as wine coolers were produced by the Rundell between 1820 and 1824. The upper section could be removed to allow a bottle to be placed in the bowl; the vase can be inverted without any water leaking out. The Duke lent the vase to Josiah Wedgwood who spent four years trying to duplicate the vase in black and whit jasper ware.   Josiah Wedgwood Factory, The Portland Vase, Jasper. Courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum.       At Koopman Rare Art we have for sale a silver Portland Vase made by John Samuel Hunt. Hunt had assisted Storr from the start of his career in 1819.   The silver vessel is a technical masterpiece and a wonderfully satisfying object with great subtleties in the textures and finish of the surfaces. The vase is an important piece of silver as it encapsulates the importance of classical antiquity and the influences it had on craftsman. The vase was made in 1846 and is inscribed to the rim ‘Presented by Lady Caroline Lascelles to James N. Merrinan, 2nd July 1851’.    John Samuel Hunt, A Victorian silver Portland Vase. Available at Koopman Rare Art.      Some of these works are available to view in our gallery located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS.   For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on:   020 7242 7624 /    

The Warwick Vase: Hamilton’s Dig for Treasure

13 September 2017

Archibald Skirving, Portrait of Gavin Hamilton (1723 – 1798), Pastel on paper, circa. 1788. Courtesy of National Galleries of Scotland. (pictured above)    In 1771, Scottish artist Gavin Hamilton made a fascinating discovery at the ruins of Hadrian’s Villa, near Tivoli. Fancying himself as an antiquarian come art dealer based in Rome he carried out numerous archaeological digs. He discovered fragments of an ancient Roman marble vase with Bacchic ornament. The vase now stands, restored, in the Burrell Collection near Glasgow, Scotland.   David Allan (1744–1796), Sir William and the first Lady Hamilton in their villa in Naples, Oil on canvas, Oil on copper. Courtesy of Compton Verney Collection.     Hamilton sold the fragments to Sir William Hamilton, who was British envoy to the court of Naples.  The vase was restored by Sir William Hamilton and it later passed into the collection of Hamilton’s nephew George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick. Sir William Hamilton tried to persuade the British Museum, which had purchased his collection of Etruscan vases, to purchase the vase but to no avail. He stated “ Keep it I cannot, as I shall never have a house big enough for it”.   The Warwick Vase, housed in the Burrell Collection     The first record of the vase standing in the courtyard of Warwick Castle was in 1778. In 1784, local mason William Eborall designed and built for the Earl a greenhouse at Warwick Castle. The Earl later wrote ‘I built a noble green house, and filled it with beautiful plants, I placed in it a vase, considered as the finest remains of Grecian art extant, for its size and beauty’, despite the fragments believed to be Roman.    The vase remained at Warwick Castle until 1969 when the ownership of the Castle and its contents passed to the 7th earl David Lord Brooke. Brooke organised a sale of the works of art held in the castle. The Vase was bought by the Metropolitan Museum of Art but export was luckily denied. Matching funds were raised and not considered important enough for the British Museum the vase was sent to the Burrell Collection in Glasgow.    The Warwick Vase became iconic and greatly influencial in early 19th century design. Two bronze models were made of The Warwick Vase by Rundell. One was sold by Rundell’s to George IV who had it placed at Windsor. The other was bought by Duke of Northumberland who had just been appointed Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, to present it to the university. It is now displayed in the middle of the lawn before Gibbs’ Senate House. Porcelain versions were being made by Rockingham and Worcester. A stunning example of which is held in theRoyal Collection. This classical design became a part of the British visual repertory, even becoming the model for the silver-gilt tennis trophy, the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup won at the Australian Open.    The Norman Brookes Challenge Cup click here to watch the cup being made        The form was also manipulated for tea services and saltcellars.   John Edward Terrey, A George IV Four-Piece Tea And Coffee Service. For sale at Koopman Rare Art     This tea service was modeled in the style of the Warwick Vase. The large looping handles and cylindrical form create a grand and impressive tea service. Available at Koopman it is a silver George IV tea and coffee service, engraved with the coat-of arms for Maynard impaling another.  The pots are decorated with fruit finials and ivory insulators in the handles, the spouts formed as tritons sounding conch-shell horns, the whole set richly decorated with acanthus leaf ornament.    Paul Storr (Westminster 1771 – Tooting 1844), An Impressive Regency Warwick Vase on Silver Stand. For sale at Koopman Rare Art.     Here is a a majestic and beautiful example of a Warwick vase by Paul Storr. The Cowper Warwick Vase was presented to Captain William Cowper (1774-1825) who was a military engineer. He succeeded in building two dry docks in the port of Bombay despite numerous difficulties, including a lack of skilled workmen and problems with hard rock and tides.  Another exceptional Warwick Vase available at Koopman Rare Art is this silver-gilt vase by Paul Storr.   Paul Storr (Westminster 1771 – Tooting 1844) An Exceptional Warwick Vase on Stand with Caribbean Interest. For sale at Koopman Rare Art.   The Warwick Vase was presented to James Anthill, Chief Justice of Antigua by the legislature of the island. The vase is mentioned in his will of 1822:    ‘….my books, and the silver-gilt vase given me by the Legislature of the Island, and if he die before me I give the 1786 May 25 Samuel Harman to Mary Athill, sp^ L. 1788 Sept. 25 ‘   The vase bears the crest of Anthill and the base is inscribed with his coat of arms and the presentation inscription, describing Anthill as ‘Honorable’. The vase was given ‘to commemorate their exalted Sense of the Ardour of his Patriotism, The Splendour of his Talents and The Integrety of his Life.’    Some of these works are available to view in our gallery located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS.   For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on:   020 7242 7624 / 

The Jolly Duchess: Harriot Mellon

08 September 2017

  This is the story of the illegitimate daughter of a strolling player who became the Duchess of St Albans and one of the richest women in Britain. Famously described by 14th Duke of St Albans as ‘a generous character and that is always a special quality’.   William Beechey, Harriot Beauclerk (née Mellon), Duchess of St Albans, Oil on canvas, Circa 1815. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery     Harriot Beauclerk, Duchess of St. Albans (née Mellon) was born in London in 1777. She was the daughter of a wardrobe mistress and actress in a band of strolling players. Harriot grew up surrounded by the group of talented performers. Her mother married violinist Thomas Entwisle who taught her how to sing and dance, the desire to perform running through her blood. The family went on to join the respected acting company owned by Thomas Bibby which toured the theatres of the North.    In 1787, Harriot made her debut playing ‘Little Pickle’ in The Spoiled Child at Ulverston. However, her major breakthrough came when she was spotted by playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan. As a result she worked for a season at the magnificent Drury Lane Theatre in January 1795 as Lydia Languish in Sheridan’s The Rivals .Throughout her successful career she acted as an understudy to Dorothea Jordan and Sarah Siddons and was best remembered for her role as Volante in John Tobin’s The Honeymoon, performed in 1805.    George Clint, Scene from John Tobin’s The Honeymoon, Oil on canvas, circa. 1835. Courtesy of The Victoria & Albert Museum      Mellon’s fame rose in 1815 when she married the banker Thomas Coutts. Whilst her acting career came to an end, she had found her perfect partner who she described as ‘the most perfect being that ever breathed’. Mellon had been Coutts’ mistress before his first wife, Elizabeth Starkey, passed away in 1815. As a result of the scandal their marriage was conducted in private so as not to upset his three daughters from his previous marriage. Thomas Coutts did all he could to protect his beloved from his daughter’s hostility. Together they threw lavish parties and entertained important guests such as Wordsworth and Samuel Rogers to their properties across the country, her favorite being Holly Lodge in Highgate.    Mellon’s fame rose in 1815 when she married the banker Thomas Coutts. Whilst her acting career came to an end, she had found her perfect partner who she described as ‘the most perfect being that ever breathed’. Mellon had been Coutts’ mistress before his first wife, Elizabeth Starkey, passed away in 1815. As a result of the scandal their marriage was conducted in private so as not to upset his three daughters from his previous marriage. Thomas Coutts did all he could to protect his beloved from his daughter’s hostility. Together they threw lavish parties and entertained important guests such as Wordsworth and Samuel Rogers to their properties across the country, her favorite being Holly Lodge in Highgate.      Charles Turner, after Sir William Beechey, Harriot Beauclerk (née Mellon), Duchess of St Albans, mezzotint, published 1806. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.       However, in 1827 Harriot married William Aubrey de Vere the 9th Duke of St Albans, who was 23 years her junior. This caused an outcry and Harriot became subject to a number of sarcastic caricatures and criticism.    Henry Heath, The Wedding Day, Etching, 1827. Courtesy of The National Portrait Gallery.       Her close friend Sir Walter Scott wrote to Harriot to congratulate her on her second marriage. Her reply to Scott was quoted in full in his journal for 30 June 1827:    "What a strange eventful life has mine been, from a poor little player child, with just food and clothes to cover me, dependent on a very precarious profession, without talent or a friend in the world – first the wife of the best, the most perfect being that ever breathed …and now the wife of a Duke! You must write my life… my true history written by the author of Waverley"   Henry Fuseli, Harriot Mellon, Pencil, 1815. Courtesy of Lowell Libson.      Harriot was a keen collector amassing a fantastic collection of old master paintings and silver. She sat for some of the most important artists of the time including Sir William Beechey, George Romney and Sir Thomas Lawrence. On her death in 1830 she left to the Duke of St Albans £10,000 a year for his lifetime along with both the properties based in London. The rest of her fortune and estate worth approximately £1.8 million was left to Angela Burdett, the youngest of Thomas’ grandchildren.    The majority of her silver collection was placed in a vault at Coutt’s bank until 1914. On 14th May 1914 Christie’s, London held the Coutts Heirlooms sale including a service by Paul Storr after the designs by E. Hodges Baily.  A number of Harriot’s pieces of silver have passed through the doors at Koopman Rare Art including a George III cheese dish made by Robert Hennell II in London 1812 which was sold to a private collection. Below are two items that were once in the collection of the Duchess of St. Albans and are now available at Koopman Rare Art.    William Pitts, An Exceptional Pair of George III Candelabra. Available at Koopman Rare Art.         This pair of George III candelabra stamped with the maker’s mark of William Pitts belonged to Harriot. They are elaborately cast and chased with lion masks, dolphins, eagles and dragons representing the four elements within swirling scrolls, flowers and rocaille on a matted ground. This pair of candelabra are initialled and not engraved with the full St Albans armorials, a testimony to her strength of character and independence.   Robert-Joseph Auguste, A Pair of Louis XVI French Dishes on Stands. Available at Koopman Rare Art.        This pair of Louis XVI French dishes on stands were also part of Harriot’s collection. The pair were made in Paris between 1785-1789 by Henri Auguste and Robert Joseph Auguste. Both the covers and bases are engraved with the coronet & monogram of Harriet Duchess of St Albans. A selection of wonderful pieces of silver which do not only represent some of the maker’s most prestigious and important pieces but also hold provenance relating to one of the richest female characters of the 19th century.    Visit our gallery Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS   For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on:   020 7242 7624 / 

Exploring the Archives: Fire of London Tankards

01 September 2017

  Today marks the start of The Great Fire of London in 1666.   The horrific events sparked just after midnight on 2nd September. The blaze lasted four days and spread across central London from Pudding Lane. The fire is believed to have started at the bakery of Thomas Farriner. Approximately 80,000 people were affected. 13,200 houses destroyed and 87 parish churches including the most iconic, St Paul’s Cathedral. It is not known precisely how many people lost their lives during the blaze, but it is estimated many more than was previously believed. Working class people would not have been recorded and the fire would have made it difficult to identify bodies.   The Great Fire of London by an unknown painter, depicting the fire as it would have appeared on the evening of Tuesday, 4 September 1666 from a boat in the vicinity of Tower Wharf   At The Museum of London, pieces of pottery found during archeaological digs on Pudding Lane suggest that the fire would have reached 1250 degrees Celsius in temperature. London was crammed and buildings were very close together this meant that the fire spread quickly. Lord Mayor London, Sir Thomas Bloodworth was slow to order fire breaks meaning the fire continued to spread. Eventually the order was given and fire fighters made firebreaks by demolishing building in the fire’s path.    Pottery found by archeologists on Pudding lane after the fire in 1666     The Knight of 1666: Edmund Berry Godfrey   There were many heroes of The Great Fire of London including Edmund Berry Godfrey. Godfrey was a merchant who dealt in firewood, timber and coal. He was also Justice of the Peace for Westminster. Godfrey played an active role in tackling problems that arose from both the plague and the Great Fire of London. In September 1666 Charles II presented Godfrey with a knighthood and a gift of 800 ounces of white plate which was authorised to be handed to him by the Jewel House in October 1666.    Sir Edmund Godfrey, chalk drawing by an unknown artist, c. 1678. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London     Between 1673 and 1675 Godfrey commissioned a commemorative flagon and six tankards to be made as gifts to give to friends in order to commemorate his activities.  All tankards are marked 1675 except for one which is 1673. The flagon and one of the tankards were sold to a private collection by Koopman Rare Art. They were featured in Koopman’s 2008 catalogue ‘Triumphs of the Silversmith’s Art’. Below is an image of one of the other identical tankards commissioned by Godfrey now on display at the MET.    Tankard engraved with scenes depicting the Fire of London and the Great Plague      The tankard has one cartouche containing a depiction of a burial and the other contains a depiction of St. Paul’s cathedral surrounded by burning buildings. One side to represent the plague and the other the fire.    Inscribed on one side ‘The gift of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey, an active and upright magistrate who, after having rendered invaluable service in checking the progress of the plague, received from King Charles II with the consent of his Privy Council, a silver wine container to perpetuate the memory of his patriotic efforts’    And on the other,   ‘A man truly born for his country. When a terrible fire devastated the city, by the Providence of God and his own merit he moved in safety through the flames. Afterwards, at the express desire of the King (but deservedly so), Edmund Berry Godfrey was created a Knight in September 1666. For the rest, let public report speak’    Unfortunately, in 1678 Godfrey was murdered on Primrose Hill, London. He is believed to have been killed by Roman Catholics in revenge for him having been the magistrate to whom Titus Oates gave his deposition revealing the details of the ‘Popish Plot’ to overthrow Charles II and the government to re-establish Catholic rule in England.    Koopman Rare Art sold both the flagon and one of the tankards to private collections. One of the other tankards is on loan to the V & A museum. One is exhibited at the Museum of London and the MET Museum.   Visit our gallery Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS   For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on:   020 7242 7624 /  

Tiffany: Sumptuous Silver of America

25 August 2017

  Tiffany & Co. was founded in New York in 1837, the same year as Queen Victoria’s succession to the throne. Queen Victoria’s reign from 1837 to 1901 was so dominant during the last half of the nineteenth century this period has become known in America as American Victorianism. It marked the start of a true age of silver.    Up to the Civil War silver had been sparse but from 1860 mines were digging for treasures and production increased dramatically. In 1860, 116,000 ounces of silver were mined in the U.S. by 1861 this figure jumped to 1.5 million ounces and by 1900 57 million ounces. High production resulted in a drop in the price of silver. Inevitably popularity increased and silver for the home became highly fashionable. Middle-class families found the material not only useful for kitchen and dining accessories but also as a status symbol.    Charles Louis Tiffany, son of a millworker founded the company with John B. Young in New York, proudly announcing the start of Tiffany & Young in 1837. Young had already settled in New York running a stationary shop when Tiffany joined him. Their business venture was a great success from the get go. They focused on branding themselves as a stationary and fancy goods emporium. By the 1850s they had venture into diamonds, jewels and silver. They built a close relationship with John C. Moore who became their silversmith making silverware to retail. When Moore retired his son, Edward took over the role. Tiffany also employed a number of other silversmiths to work alongside them and build the company across America and into Europe.    Founder Charles Lewis Tiffany had an abiding passion for the most beautiful diamonds in the world      One of the most important services made by Tiffany in the nineteeth century was the Dinner and Dessert service for Twenty-four persons for John W. Mackay, an Irish-American industrialist. Mackay’s service consisted of 1,250 pieces made from half a ton of silver sent direct from Mackay to Tiffany from his Comstock Lode mine of Virginia City, Nevada.  Charles Grosjean of Tiffany designed the service and Edward C. Moore supervised the project. Charles Carpenter in his volume Tiffany Silver notes that as ‘the largest, the grandest, the most elegantly ornate and most famous set of its time, the Mackay service epitomized the sumptuous dining table of Victorian America’. This impressive centrepiece was one of the objects made for the service in 1878.   Plate Centrepiece from the Mackay Silver Service   Another iconic example of ornate and elaborate silver created by Tiffany in the Victorian taste was The Magnolia Vase manufactured by Tiffany & Co. around 1893. The design was made by John T. Curran and it is a magnificent amass of silver, gold, enamel and opals. The piece was exhibited at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. Curran drew inspiration from Native and Lation American sources. The form reflects the shapes used in Pueblo pottery and the handles relate to Toltec artifacts . The plant motifs were added to represent the different vegetations in the United States.    The Magnolia Vase, Manufactured by Tiffany & Co. (1837–present), Designed by John T. Curran (1859–1933), ca. 1893. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York      At Koopman Rare Art, we are showcasing a wonderful example of Tiffany silver dating from 1890s. This parcel-gilt centrepiece was made in New York in 1895 and carrries the maker’s mark of Tiffany. The round form is perched on four paw feet. The interior gidled with script initials ‘M.A.’, and the border decorated with and ovolo and foliate design.    Tiffany & Co., An American Centrepiece, Parcel-Gilt New York, circa 1890   The nineteenth century was a period of great change and expansion especially in America. With silver becoming more popular interior taste changed with the trend. Dining rooms became crowded with objects, simple silver was too plain and elaborate, intricate designs were sort after more and more. The taste for elaborate and decorated silver became the Victorian taste and Tiffany recognised this demand. It was common to see eighteenth century plain pieces of silver repoussed with ornamentations by Victorian silversmiths who rejected the plain simple designs of the past. However, at the turn of 20th century there was a rejection of Victoriana in America. A new movement of was generated to simplify. Cubists, fauvists, Frank Llyod Wright and German Bauhaus all contributed to the rejection of Victorian taste as they moved into the 20th century. Tiffany moved with fashion and was soon rejecting Victorian taste producing much more simple designs.    Tiffany, Modern Sterling Silver Water Pitcher, Nelson & Nelson Antique Silver , 1947-1956   Some of these works are available to view in our gallery located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS.   For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on:   020 7242 7624 /        

Koopman’s Kunstkammer: A Cabinet of Curiosities

18 August 2017

    Where would it be possible to find a Narwhal horn, taxidermy crocodile, piece of coral, marble, jasper, paintings, portrait miniatures, preserved animal specimens and a nautilus ?   Travel back in time to Renaissance Europe and you could find this assortment of objects in collections belonging to some of the most important rulers of the time. Traditionally referred to as cabinets of curiosities, these collections were not necessarily displayed in cabinets in the modern sense of the word but in rooms. Also known in the German language as Kunstkammers or Wunderkammers.   Cabinets of curiosities were not just collections for the owner to contemplate, appreciate and study but acted as an symbol of status. Many princely collections were built for aesthetic pleasure to show off the owner’s wealth and status to visiting diplomats. Other collections were built for scientific study as a collection of pure curiosity and wonder.   Engraving from Ferrante Imperato, Dell’Historia Naturale (Naples 1599)     One of the first known depictions of a Kunstkammer is Ferrante Imperato’s Dell’Historia Naturale engraving made in 1599. The engraving shows in great detail secret cupboards and shelves holding the weird and wonderful. Fish and sea animals are illustrated across the ceiling and taxidermy birds sit in alcoves along the left hand wall. One of the most famous cabinet of curiosities was that which belonged to Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor. Unfortunately, the true understanding of the Kunstkammer is difficult to imagine as it was plundered in 1649 by Swedish forces. However, the list of objects noted at the time gives us an insight into the types of objects collected and also the scale of the collection including 600 vessels of agate and crystal and more than 300 mathematical instruments. Rudolf II was particularly interested in animal specimens and had many taxidermy and preserved specimens including chameleons, birds of paradise and fish. If it was not possible to get his hands on the specimens he employed court painter Daniel Froschl to paint a picture just like this unicorn.    Sea-unicorn, from Rudolf II’s *Bestiarium*, 1607–1612, Courtesy of Österreichische Nationalbibliothek     Other famous kunstkammer’s include the studiolo of Francesco I de’Medici and the Grand Duke of Tuscany’s collection held in the Tribuna at the Ufizi Palace which was recorded by Johan Zoffany in 1772.   Johann Zoffany, The Tribuna of the Uffizi, Oil on canvas. Courtesy of The Royal Collection      At Koopman we have created our very own Kunstkammer displaying some of our favourite objects, scroll down to read more about each of the objects.   A 19th Century Jewel-Set Casket Silver, gold, enamel and jewels Probably German, circa 1860 Length: 7.25in, 18.4cm The sides mounted with enamel masks surrounded by jewels, the domed cover mounted with gold putti representing the arts. The finial, a gold and silver lion wrapped with a serpent. The casket itself supported by four gold dragons The casket’s lock operated by a gold key.   A 19th Century Gold, Enamel and Agate Dish Gold, enamel & agate Circa 1870 Length: 9.5in., 24.2cm Rothschild Collection     Jules Wiese (1818 – 1890) A French Gem-Set Parcel-Gilt Lapis Lazuli Tazza Paris, Circa 1860 Maker’s Mark Of Jules Wiese Height; 3 1/2 in. (8.8 cm.) In the Renaissance style, the circular foot set with faceted foiled gems and pearls, the stem cast with a putto modelled standing upon a lapis lazuli socle, raising aloft a lapis lazuli shell-carved bowl, marked on foot.     A Late 19th Century Silver-gilt, Enamel & Rock Crystal Viennese Ewer Vienna circa, 1880 Height: 19.5cm, 7.6in The ewer with rock crystal panels engraved with gryphons among foliate scrolls, the ewer of square section with enamelled silver-gilt crowned gryphons in high relief.     Rudolf Mayer A Spectacular German 19th Century Two-Handled Cup and Cover Silver-gilt, agate, enamel, pearls and precious gems Frankfurt, circa 1887 Modeller & chaser: Rudolf Mayer Enameller: E Schurmann Height 8 5/8in., 22 cm The cup exquisitely modelled and chased by Rudolf Mayer who was based in Karlsruhe at this time. The cup was then mounted and enamelled by E. Schurmann in the Renaissance style. The rim of the cup enamelled with champlevé insects and birds within flowers. The handles formed as winged grotesque mythical beasts. The cover with a Minerva bust finial. The whole cup set with faceted gems and pearls.   These works are available to view in our gallery located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS or on our website   For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on: 0207 242 7624 /

Flavoursome History of the British Pastime: Afternoon Tea

16 August 2017

    William Elliott (1762 – 1854) A Fine George IV Five Piece Tea & Coffee Set, London 1822   Did you know it is Afternoon Tea Week ? Not that I need an excuse to go for afternoon tea. A popular pastime deeply embedded in British culture. The popularity for afternoon tea is forever skyrocketing becoming more and more adventurous and extravagant. One can choose to have tradition afternoon tea at Claridges or step into the world of Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at Sanderson’s hotel. Even, a gentleman’s afternoon tea at the Reform Social & Grill, situated in the Mandeville hotel serving duck scotch eggs with black pudding and roasted bone marrow. Weird and wonderful flavours are gracing our favourite pastime but where did this deliciously delightful tradition begin?    Tetard Freres, An Elegant Art Deco Tea & Coffee Service on Tray, Paris circa. 1930   While tea had been popular in the 17thcentury the tradition of afternoon tea which originated as a small bite to eat started much later in the early 1800s. Anna Russell, the 7thDuchess of Bedford has been labelled as the founder of the afternoon tea as an official social occasion. Evening meals became fashionably later as it became more cost effective to light the room with the introduction of gas lighting and as a consequence the time between meals became longer. The Duchess found the wait between lunch and dinner tiring, finding herself hungry in the middle of the day. The Duchess would invite her friends to enjoy tea and a bite to eat at Woburn Abbey. Being a very close friend of Queen Victoria and a prominent figure within the high London society the practice spread and became extremely fashionable amongst the upper classes. Tea rooms quickly became the place to meet friends in the 19th century and considered an appropriate environment for women to meet alone without male presence.    Thomas Gilpin, A George II Rococo Kettle on Stand   The tradition of tea and afternoon tea is more fashionable than ever. At Koopman Rare Art we have some beautiful tea sets perfect for any such occasion, let’s continue the tradition and celebrate Afternoon Tea Week.   These works are available to view in our gallery located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS or on our website   For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on:  0207 242 7624 /

The Mystery of the Maynard Master

10 August 2017

    Paul de Lamerie is described as the ‘greatest silversmith working in England in 18th century’ by the Victoria & Albert Museum.  Whilst we couldn’t agree more, our focus is not on the mastery of de Lamerie but the mastery of a more mysterious craftsman who worked with him.    Paul de Lamerie, A George II Britannia Standard Silver Sauceboat     Paul de Lamerie arrived in London with his Huguenot parents from the Dutch Republic in 1691. The family settled in Berwick Street in Soho which had become the centre for luxury goods during the late 17th century. The streets were bustling with huge numbers of Hugeunots and highly skilled foreigners who set up business in Soho.   You may be wondering what brought this flurry of craftsmanship from overseas. One of the main reasons was the economic future of goldsmiths dwindled under the control of Louis XIV. He ordered the melting down of all plate in 1686 to fund wars in Holland and banned the future employment of any goldsmith.    In 1703, Paul de Lamerie was apprentice to goldsmith Pierre Platel, another Huguenot with impressive premises on Pall Mall. The growing community of highly talented French Huguenots raised the quality and standard of silver production in London. The French brought new designs and ideas inspired by baroque classicism found in Louis XIV palace at Versailles.     Paul de Lamerie, Candlesticks, 1742/43, probably cast by The Maynard Master, The Cahn Collection     Silversmiths did not work alone, they commonly worked together with Craftsmen who provided designs. By the mid-1730s de Lamerie was one of the most important silversmiths working in the heart of London. However, our focus today is not on de Lamerie himself but the craftsman that he worked with between 1732 and 1744.    His identity is still unknown but his unique style stands out making it possible to attribute works to the craftsman. In 1736/1737, a large presentation dish was commissioned by the Maynard family. The dish was marked by Paul de Lamerie and the centre of the dish features the arms of Maynard with a crescent. The dish is in the high rococo style showing figural borders, broken cartouches and figures representing the four elements emerging from chased settings with natural iconography, such as shells. The richly decorated design was inventive incorporating extreme naturalism with abstract and organic motifs. The long faces of the characterful figures and the sharp pointed edges in contrast to the smooth rolling design became synonymous with the work of de Lamerie’s unknown craftsman who decorated some of de Lamerie’s most prestigious pieces. He became known as The Maynard Master, after the Maynard Dish. Koopman Rare Art sold the Maynard Dish to the Cahn Collection.    The Maynard Dish, Paul de Lamerie, 1736/37, chasing by The Maynard Master     The Maynard Master has been studied at great length. Ubaldo Vitali who studied The Maynard Master proposed that he was mainly a chaser who would have made models out of copper. A number of other works have been attributed to The Maynard Master including a basket dated 1745/46 purchased by Koopman Rare Art in 1999 and sold to the Cahn Collection. A pair of silver gilt candelabra dated 1736/37, purchased by Koopman Rare Art in 2002 and sold to the Cahn Collection, amongst a number of other attributions.    The Cahn Collection, assembled by Mr and Mrs Paul Cahn includes many of the pieces made by Paul de Lamerie in collaboration with the Maynard Master. Koopman Rare Art played a key role in building their prestigious collection which is of museum standard. A fantastic recommended read is Ellenor Alcorn’s ‘Beyond the Maker’s Mark, paul de Lamerie Silver in the Cahn Collection.’     Art historian Maureen Cassidy-Geiger made a recent discovery of five drawings held in the Dresden archives which have been attributed to the Maynard Master. These drawings have helped historians and experts identify works by the mysterious craftsman showing his method of working and artistic skill more closely. Two of the drawings, which were published in Ellenor Alcorn’s book are illustrated below.      For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on:    0207 242 7624 /

Maison Cartier: Heritage & Legacy

09 August 2017

Maison Cartier (   The Maison Cartier is one of the most prestigious long-standing jewellers in the world. The company was founded in 1847 by Louis Francois Cartier in Paris. The business went strength to strength, passing down through the generations. However, it was Louis Francois Cartier’s grandchildren that really pushed the company into new heights. The company opened on new premises on Rue de la Paix in Paris in 1899. Still today, Rue de la Paix is the in the heart of the fashion district sporting some of the finest, luxury boutique stores located in the 2nd arrondissement.   The three brothers Louis, Pierre and Jacques had stamped their mark on the Parisian luxury goods market and their reputation was rising. Whilst their empire was building in Paris their sights were set on expansion and exposure.   Alfred Cartier and his three sons, Louis, Pierre and Jacques  (   In 1904, Pierre and Louis travelled to Russia, leaving Jacques to hold the fort in Paris. This ambitious moved proved essential to the growth of the company. The brothers won the approval of imperial family and members of the Russian aristocracy which elevated their profile both in Russia and Paris.   Six years later, the brothers decided to focus on the English aristocracy opening a shop on New Bond Street, where it still stands to this day. Jacques, the youngest of the brothers took control of the British branch of Cartier. In the same year, Pierre moved to America appealing to rich industrialists and Hollywood personalities. The brothers clever marketing scheme, expanding region by region, hand picking clientele proved immensely profitable.   With Cartier’s presense and reputation in London growing ever stronger , word soon spread to India. Not before long, Indian princes and Maharajas were entrusted Cartier with precious gemstones to be reset into modern jewellery. Cartier had opened another office, this time in India by 1911.   Cartier, Art Deco 1930s, Rectangular & Square Cut Diamond Architectural Cluster Ring (     The company remained in the family until 1964 when it was bought by Compagnie Financière Richemont SA. ( Cartier in now ranked #61 in the Forbes report on The World’s Most Valuable Brands, 2017 with a brand value of $9.3 billion and sales of $5.7 billion. (   Cartier’s success through the 20th century was unprecedented and is best illustrated by their patrons. Between 1904-1939 Cartier held 15 royal patents around the world and were coined the Jewelers to the King. In 1910 Cartier created a foliate scroll tiara for Elizabeth Queen of the Belgians. In 1926 they made a head ornament for Jagatjit Singh of Maharaja consisting of 19 emeralds and one extremely rare stone which was 117.40 carats. More recently a tiara for Catherine Middleton to wear on her wedding day to Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.    A Cartier Gold & Diamond Strap Bracelet with Interlink Circles, 1950s (   One of Cartier’s most iconic styles is the flora, particularly popular with royalty. Queen Elizabeth famously purchased The Williamson diamond weighing 23.6 carats set in an edelweiss brooch. The orchid is particularly popular and added to the range of flora which created the Cartier garden a symbol of feminine beauty.   Our beautiful floral brooch was created by Cartier, London in the 1950s. It is a mesmerizing collection of diamonds, emeralds and amethysts constructed in the form of flowers and leaves with crosshatching to the emeralds to create the effect of the veins in the leaves.    Cartier Art Deco 1950s Brooch, Diamonds, Emeralds and Amethysts (    A stunning accessory, to turn any simple outfit into a luxurious fashion statement. The brooch encompasses the focus of the business design, luxury and quality.   Cartier antiques have taken on a whole new wealth of desirability. Whilst, Cartier continue to produce items of the highest prestige, the antique pieces hold time and stories along with rarity.    These works are available to view in our gallery located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS   For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on:   0207 242 7624 /           

Three Tritons and a Lily Pad: the Mastery of Hunt & Roskell

28 July 2017

  Today we are featuring a striking pair of Victorian figural vases, dated London 1849 with the maker’s mark of Hunt & Roskell. The vases are further stamped with the retailer’s mark of Hunt and Roskell, late Storr and Mortimer. Standing nearly 40cm tall and weighing 11 kg. The triangular bases are adorned with three tritons, Greek Mermen. The bowls are formed as overlapping water lily pads which are embellished with buds and blooms. The figures were made by Paul Storr and each is engraved on the right arm. The provenance is unclear before 1992 when they came up for auction at Sotheby’s, New York on 27th April where they was bought by a private collector.   Detail of Hunt & Roskell, An Incredible Pair of Victorian Figural Vases at Koopman Rare Art    The lily pad design used to create the bowls of these vases is the same design used in a pair of wine coolers made at Hunt and Roskell in 1848 for presentation to Edward 1st Earl of Ellenborough (1790-1871). Instead of tritons, their bases supported figures illustrative of life in India in commemoration of the Earl’s tenure as Governor-General there between 1842 and 1844.    Detail of Hunt & Roskell, An Incredible Pair of Victorian Figural Vases at Koopman Rare Art      The coolers were part of a service which Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were shown at Hunt & Roskell in February 1848, for which they ‘were graciously pleased to express their high admiration.’ (The Morning Chronicle, London, 16 February 1848, p. 6d) Although Hunt & Roskell employed the services of several artists at this time, including Frank Howard (1805-1866) and Alfred Brown, both of whom began their association with the firm in the mid-1840s, they worked under the superintendence of the sculptor Edward Hodges Baily (1788-1867).  It is he to whom the design of these and the Ellenborough coolers has been attributed.   An Incredible Pair of Victorian Figural Vases at Koopman Rare Art     The concept was not new, however; a book of miscellaneous prints of designs for vases inscribed ‘No. 202 Storr & Mortimer 13 New Bond Street,’ which must have been known to Baily, includes an engraving after Jacques-François Saly (1717-1776) in which a shell-like vase is supported by tritons.    Courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Vases inventés et gravés par Jacobus Saly . Jacques-François-Joseph Saly (1717 – 1776)   These naturalistic forms, so brilliantly adapted for silver at Hunt & Roskell during the 1840s, probably found their most extreme expression in the shell and coral pattern tea and coffee set, London, 1849, which they showed at the Great Exhibition of 1851 (John Culme, Nineteenth-Century Silver, London, 1977, pp. 158 and 159) E.H. Baily began working under John Flaxman for Rundell, Bridge & Rundell while still a student and when Flaxman died in 1826 he became Rundell’s chief designer and modeller.   Detail of Hunt & Roskell, An Incredible Pair of Victorian Figural Vases at Koopman Rare Art     In this post he inevitably worked most closely with Paul Storr, who until February 1819 was in charge of the firm’s silver manufactory in Dean Street, Soho. Storr subsequently set up his own factory in addition to going into partnership two years later with John Mortimer to form the retail business of Storr & Mortimer, goldsmiths and jewellers, in Bond Street. Baily joined the new firm and continued to work with Storr and his successors until 1857.   These works are available to view in our gallery located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS   For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on: 0207 242 7624 /   

The Pendant Cross of Jerusalem: A Magnificent Treasure

27 July 2017

A partially enamelled gold, diamond and garnet Spanish pendant cross of Jerusalem, 3 1/6 by 2 11/16 inches.    An exquisite example of an early Spanish jewel. The pendant takes the form of a Jerusalem Cross which is set with diamonds picked out with red and white cloisonné enamelled foliate adornments. To the reverse the pendant is enamelled with a geometric pattern in red, blue, green and black. This intricate design is set against a white ground and centred upon a large table cut garnet. The inclusion of diamonds instead of crystals indicates the high status as a piece of devotional jewellery which was likely to have been made for a member of the Spanish court.   Detail of  Pendant cross of Jerusalem, Spanish, Circa 1625-1630   It is believed that the cross was exhibited at the South Kensington Museum in 1862. An entry from the catalogue closely matches the description of the pendant :   The pendant is known to have entered the collection of the Hope family, the exact date is unknown. The Jerusalem cross was probably purchased by Thomas Hope (1769-1831) or Henry Philip Hope (1774-1839). The Hope family were renowned for their collection of jewels, famously owning the Hope diamond. Henry Thomas Hope inherited the Hope diamond from his uncle and the rest of his jewellery collection.   Detail of  Pendant cross of Jerusalem, Spanish, Circa 1625-1630   A pendant of this quality and design is one of the earliest examples of Spanish jewels and would have been owned by someone of the highest nobility. It has been suggested that comparisons can be drawn between the pendant and a jewel depicted in a painting held at the Museum Cerralbo. The oil on canvas is attributed to teacher and father-in-law of Diego Velázquez, Francisco Pacheco. The work illustrates a Franciscan Priest, Saint James of the March of Ancona standing over an unknown male and female who gaze out of the canvas to the viewer. The lady wears a beautiful pearl necklace with complimentary drop earrings. Her dress is adorned with intricate gilt embroidery. However, it is the beautiful cross pendant to which our eyes are drawn. One can notice immediately the same colourless stones and white and red enamelling. The cross in the painting whilst it appears simpler with fewer stones this may be simply down to artistic license. It would be extremely interesting to investigate the couple in this religious portrait to trace back the provenance of the pendent past the Hope family.  Attributed to  Francisco Pacheco, Franciscan Priest, Saint James of the March of Ancona, Oil on canvas, Courtesy of Museo Cerralbo, Madrid, Spain   These works are available to view in our gallery located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS   For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on: 0207 242 7624 /    

New Arrival at Koopman: A Pair of Monumental Silver-Gilt Sideboard Dishes by Paul Storr

26 July 2017

  A Monumental Pair of George III Silver-Gilt Sideboard Dishes, 1813 We are extremely excited to announce the return of two highly important objects to Koopman Rare Art. A pair of George III Silver-Gilt sideboard dishes by Paul Storr for Rundell, Bridge & Rundell after the design by Thomas Stothard. This pair of sideboard dishes are historically important both for their mastery of craftsmanship and reputable provenance.  Koopman Rare Art initially purchased the dishes from auction in 1984 at Sotheby’s, London (3rd May, ex-lot 105). The dishes at this date then entered the prestigious collection of His Excellency Mohammed Mahdi Al Tajir, before returning to Koopman this July, 2017.  Provenance The dishes were first owned by William Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley of Wanstead House in Essex. A notorious scoundrel, gambler and fortune-seeker, he won the hand of Catherine Tylney-Long, the richest woman in England outside of royalty, with an income of £80,000 a year. The pair were married in 1812 and moved to Wanstead House in Essex. An extravagant entertainer Long-Wellesley held a grand fete in 1814 to celebrate the Duke of Wellington’s victory over Napoleon. It is likely that this pair of dishes were purchased specifically for this occasion.  In 1822, problems hit.  Long-Wellesley was forced to mortgage Wanstead House in order to secure a debt of £250,000 and its contents to the creditors. The trustees of the settlement auctioned off the houses’ contents in an auction which lasted 32 days.  Paul Storr, Sideboard Dish, Hallmarked 1814/15, Silver-gilt. Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016 Rundell, Bridge & Rundell bought the dishes for Hugh Percy (1785-1847), 3rd Duke of Northumberland, whose arms were engraved on the reverse. The dishes stayed with the Percy family, until the Sotheby’s sale in 1984. Thirty-three years later and the monumental dishes are back with Koopman Rare Art. This is the only pair from the series of ‘Bacchus and Ariadne’ sideboard dishes created by the workshop of Paul Storr for the Royal Goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge & Rundell. Two other single examples are known today. One created in 1814 was purchased by the Prince Regent, future King George IV, and is now held in the Royal Collection. Another example, which was part of the Audrey Love Collection was created in 1817. This later charger bears the arms of the 2nd Earl of Ailesbury.  Detail of A Monumental & Highly Important Pair of George III Sideboard Dishes, Paul Storr (Westminster 1771 – Tooting 1844) after a design by Thomas Stothard (1755-1834) The centre of each dish is cast in bold relief with a group of Bacchus and Ariadne. Cherubs fly around their shoulders as they are drawn forward in an ornamental chariot by four centaurs who are wielding a thyrsus or playing a double-pie, a lyre and a tambourine. The dishes are further decorated with an applied ribbon-tied laurel wreath below a vine and trellis border. The border is strewn with cymbals and other antique musical instruments. The reverse of each dish is engraved with a coat-of-arms, supporters and motto below a duke’s coronet. They are both sorted in their original case with the brass plate engraved, ‘The Duke of Northumberland’.   Goldsmiths: Rundell, Bridge & Rundell   ‘Massiveness … the principal characteristic of good plate’Charles Heathcote Tatham (1772-1842) Architect and Designer, 1806  The Royal goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge & Rundell , were the largest and most successful supplier of plate, diamonds, pearls and jewellery of the period and drove the fashion for monumental silverware drawing on classical motifs from Greek and Roman architecture.  To some extent, the success of Rundell, Bridge & Rundell boiled down to the sheer amount of expertise and creativity they had working with them. Rundell’s employed a number of talented artists to supply designs. John Flaxman (1755-1826) was particularly important. Flaxman was a sculptor whose most important work, arguably, is the silver-gilt Shield of Achilles created in 1821, now held in the Royal Collection. Thomas Stothard (1755-1834) who designed the mythological scene for the dishes was another important member of the firm’s artistic circle. Stothard’s design for this pair of sideboard dishes was inspired by an antique Roman cameo discovered in the Via Aurelia in 1661, now in the Louvre having being seized by Napoleon in 1798. Stothard was a painter, illustrator and engraver. He first entered the Royal Academy in 1778, where he gained full academician in 1794. Stothard admired the work of Rubens and this influence is evident in his small oil paintings. However, his strength was in illustration. His most important works included illustrations for The Pilgrim’s Progress in 1788 and Robinson Crusoe. His most famous painting is now held in the Tate Britain, The Pilgrimage to Canterbury painted between 1806-7. Thomas Stothard, The Pilgrimage to Canterbury, 1806-7, Oil on panel. Courtesy of the Tate Britain These works are available to view in our gallery located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QSFor all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on:0207 242 7624 /   

The Heritage and History of Odiot and its Influence on the Modern Day Silver Market

25 July 2017

The House of Odiot was founded in 1690 by Jean-Baptiste Gaspard Odiot. The House rose to prominence under the extremely talented Jean-Baptiste Claude, Jean Baptiste Gaspard’s grandson. He received many prestigious orders from the Emperor, including Napoleon’s coronation sword and scepter and the Emperor’s campaign dinner service. Odiot was particularly influenced by the antique style and created lavish displays in silver-gilt. Odiot’s reputation spread beyond the Empire to all the courts of Europe.

A Large French Silver-Gilt Centrepiece, mark of Maison Odiot, Paris, 1983-1992.

After a design, circa 1817, of A.-L.-M. Cavelier, for Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot 


Charles Nicolas Odiot experimented with electroplating, a new technique he brought back from England in 1824. He worked in the revived rocaille style and by 1825 he was purveyor of silverware by appointment to His Majesty the King Louis-Philippe and to the Royal Family of Orleans. Charles Nicolas was succeeded by his son Gustave who revived the largest order placed with the House of Odiot, 3,000 pieces of solid gold flatware from Saïd Pacha, the Viceroy of Egypt. Gustave went on to become the purveyor by appointment to the court of His Majesty the Tsar.
The House of Odiot still functions today. Their exceptionally rich heritage has enabled the House to continue to produce the highest quality of objects. The preservation of knowledge through the ages and their extensive archives make them unique in their production. An unparalleled collection of patterns, moulds and drawings has enabled the House to produce modern day silverware from the original historic moulds and also develop new designs drawing inspiration from the archives.
“Never have gold and silver been softened and searched
by a more ingenious, more reliable and more delicate chisel”
Georges Maillard, article published in Le Figaro on January 4, 1869
At Koopman Rare Art we have some exquisite examples of Odiot’s work in silver-gilt dating between 1983-1992. A large French silver-gilt centrepiece  which was made after a design circa 1817 of A-L-M Cavelier for Jean Baptiste-Claude Odiot. The circular base is cast and chased with a band of stylised foliage on a matted ground. The hemispherical bowl is supported on cast figures of Ceres, Bacchus and Fame. The bowl is applied with a band of trailing vines, dolphins and bulrushes, with Bacchic female mask and double serpent handles. This sumptuous tureen was first manufactured in 1817, as part of a set of 219 pieces commissioned by Count Demidoff. The original piece is presently exhibited at the Louvre museum.
A pair of French Soup-tureens, covers and liners, silver-gilt, Paris, 1990, maker’s mark of Mason Odiot 

Another highlight piece in our collection is a pair of French soup-tureens, covers and liners also in silver-gilt. The pair were made in Paris, 1990. Each oval and oval base is cast and chased with a band of stylised foliage on a matted ground. The oval bowl is supported on a pair of cast winged kneeling figures of winged Victory. The bowl is applied with a band of trailing vines and the slightly domed cover is adorned with foliage and bud finial. The bases, covers and liners are further stamped ‘Odiot a Paris’ the bases further numbered ‘9025’ and ‘9026’ and dated ‘1990’.
These works are available to view in our gallery located at Koopman Rare Art, The London Silver Vaults, 53/64 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1QS
 For all enquiries please do not hesitate to call or email on:
 0207 242 7624 /