With maker’s only, probably for Paul De Lamerie
Height: 26cm, 10.2in
Weight: 2140g, 86oz 16dwt
Width: 37cm, 14.5in
Formed as an open shell, with a gadrooned waved border. The outer sides pierced with scrolls. Resting on three dolphin feet cast and chased with scalework. The curling handle formed as the head and torso of a mermaid, her double tail chased with scalework, issuing from realistically cast and chased shells, foliage and rockwork.
Although Lamerie was not alone in producing this form of cake basket, it is one of the outstanding types which recall his name to students of his work.
Two examples of the same model are currently in public collections, one dated 1743 in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and one dated 1748 in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Several silversmiths were inspired by this design and the model proved to be very popular throughout the XVIII and XIX Century.
The grace and line of the marine idea in the decoration place this item in a class alone, and nothing more successful as table ornaments ever emanated from the goldsmith’s workshop.
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.
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