London, 1670 circa
Crowned "S" maker's mark attributed to Robert Smythier
Height 52.5; Width 44 cm,
Weight 2,637 g
Robert Smythier was born in Gloucestershire. Firstly apprenticed to the plateworker Henry Greenaway, he gains his freedom in 1660. His brother William was apprenticed to Thomas Vyner, a silversmith with Royal connections who later became Lord Major of London. In 1660 Robert joined the Goldsmiths' Company Committee instituted to consider the abuses in the trade, becoming an active member of the Company. He had been appointed to the Livery in 1647 and, in 1682 served as a "Paying Rentor". of the two Renter Wardens, this was the preferred post, as it was much easier to pay the rents owed by the Goldsmiths' Company to a few major landlords, rather than collect those owing from a myriad of tenants. In 1688 he became a member of the Court of Assistant. Robert died in November 1689, the year in which his widow registered her mark on the Mark Plate.Description
Oval shield embossed with tulips and peonies surrounding a young bacchus with a bunch of drapes and a dish beneath an awning. Mascaron with extended tongue above the curved branch with flowerhead nozzle and large drip pan. The terminal engraved with the crest of the Earls of Lonsdale in around 1808.
This wall light belongs to the royal dinner silver which was given to the court goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge, & Rundell in 1808 to cover the costs of the new court silver produced to furnish Kensington Palace for the Princess of Wales. Instead of smelting down the silver, the Rundells sold the most important pieces to their regular customers. The wall lights were apparently purchased by William Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale (1757– 844). His crest, engraved in the upper section of the piece, contains the band of the Order of the Garter which he was awarded in 1807. Although at least six wall lights from the same set appeared in auctions at Christie’s in 1947, 1968, and 1975, this piece appears to be the only example still with the original single-light branch. The remaining pieces were fitted with three-light nozzles made by Paul Storr. Recent research has attributed the crowned S mark, which was formerly ascribed to Charles Shelley, to Robert Smythier, whose mark can also be found on other items of court silver dated from 1664 to 1686.
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