THE WALPOLE INKSTAND:
A GEORGE II TREASURY INKSTAND
Silver (Britannia Standard)
Maker’s mark of Paul de Lamerie
Length: 11 5/8 inches (29.5 cm)
Width: 7 ½ inches (19.1 cm)
Weight: 93 ounces
Sir Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, and thence by descent to a gentleman,
Christie’s, London, December 14, 1988, lot 249
Spink & Son Ltd., London
Sotheby’s, New York, Oritz-Patino Collection, April 22, 1998, lot 8
Andrew Moore, ed., Houghton Hall: The Prime Minister, The Empress and The Heritage, p. 110, cat. No. 22
Octagon, vol. XXVI, no. 1, Spinks, 1989, “The Walpole Inkstand” by Judith Banister
London, 1990, Goldsmiths’ Hall, Paul de Lamerie, The Work of England’s Master Silversmith, cat. No. 51, p. 96.
Norwich Castle Museum, October 12, 1996 – January 5, 1997 and The Iveagh Bequest, January 23 – April 20, 1997, Houghton Hall: The Prime Minister, The Empress and The Heritage, item 22
Paul de Lamerie arrived in England with his Huguenot parents in or before 1689, having been baptized at 's Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands in 1688. In 1703 he was apprenticed to the Huguenot goldsmith Pierre Platel, and after being admitted to the freedom of the Goldsmiths' Company, he registered his first mark and set up a workshop in Windmill Street, Soho, in 1712. He took thirteen apprentices between 1715 and 1749 who paid premiums varying between £10 and £45m In 1716 he married Louisa Juliott, also a Huguenot, and by her had six children, three of whom died in childhood. Little more of his personal history is known, although his career in the Goldsmiths' Company is comparatively well documented. By 1717, he was already referred to as 'the King's Silversmith' but again in a complaint 'for making and selling Great quantities of Large Plate which he doth not bring to Goldsmith's Hall to be mark't according to Law.' He joined the livery in 1717; fourteen years later he was elected to the court of assistants. In 1743 he was appointed fourth warden and in 1747 second warden; that he never became prime warden probably due to ill health. From the outset he had wealthy clients such as the Honourable George Treby and the Duke of Sutherland. Among his more important later patrons were Sir Robert Walpole, Baron Anson, and the fifth Earl of Mountrath. A gradual expansion of his business culminated in his move in 1739 to considerably larger premises in Gerrard street. His pre-eminent position in the trade is signified by the commission he received in 1740 from the Goldsmiths' Company to provide two of their most splendid pieces of ceremonial display plate, a silver-gilt inkstand and the famous rococo ewer and dish.Description
Of rounded rectangular form, raised on four shell-headed scroll supports, centrally hinged flat covers finely engraved with ‘Hogarthian’ borders, strapwork and shells, enclosing on one cover arms and supporters and on the other crest, motto and supporters of Sir Robert Walpole, the interior fitted with a removable covered inkwell and a sander, the latter pierced with diaper and formal foliage and both held in frames engraved with foliage and flowerheads on matted grounds.
The arms are those of Walpole impaling Shorter for Sir Robert Walpole (1676 – 1745) and his first wife Catherine Shorter. The crest and motto are those of Walpole. The supporters granted to Walpole are the stage and antelope which supported the Royal Arms on the Exchequer Seal from the reign of Henry VIII.
This is the first of two treasury inkstands ordered by Sir Robert Walpole from Lamerie. The second was a gift to Sir Peter Burrell (1692 – 1756), a sub-governor of the South Sea Company, in which Sir Robert invested heavily. The Burrell inkstand passed by inheritance to Sir Edward Durand and was sold at Christie’s, May 5, 1937, lot 108, purchased by the Bank of England, in whose possession it remains. The decoration on the Walpole inkstand relates to that on the famous seal salver, supplied by Paul de Lamerie to him in the previous year and engraved with the obverse and reverse impressions of the second Exchequer seal of George I. This commemorated his second term as Chancellor of the Exchequer to George I and is one of the best known examples of Lamerie’s work.