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Tray for cruet set

1721-1722
Origin: England, London
Tray: OL: 10 1/4"; OH: 1 3/4" Spice box: Ol: 2 11/16"; OW: 2"; OH: 1 3/16" bottle: OH: 3 9/16"; OW(base): 1 7/8" bottle: OH: 3 1/2"; OW(base): 1 7/8" caster: Oh: 3 1/2"; OW(base): 1 7/8" caster: Oh: 3 1/2"; OW(base): 1 7/8"
Silver (Britannia)
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1979-399,1
Wrought silver square salver or cruet tray with broad outward-curving sides and indented corners with drawn and applied profiled molding on face at edge. Face of sides densely chiseled and chased with a hunting-related scene in the center of each side flanked by scrolled leafage and foliated strapwork panels enclosing diapering with foliated shells at each of the four corners, all on a matted ground; center of salver laid out in geometric manner with large panels of foliated strapwork enclosing diapering on a matted ground chiseled and chased within angularly shaped triangular reserves oriented inward from center of each side. These decorative reserves are placed between four octagons of profiled molding at the corners to accommodate the bases of the casters and cruets with one of elongated octagonal form in center to accommodate box; these are attached with rivets. Salver is supported in four short cast bracket legs of foliated and voluted scrolled design with molded feet of architectural character.
Label:Grand in concept and exquisite in execution, this magnificent cruet stand is without parallel in English silver. No other English cruet stand of this salver form is known, not even a salver with this degree or type of decoration, not to mention the casters, cruets, and double spice box. Its hunting and fable scenes, as well as its elaborate scrollwork, are deeply chiseled and chased in a most unusual manner for English silver. Crespin has effected a rare and masterful integration of architectural organization and forms with lyrical elaboration and detail, enticing and assisting the eye to move across this ordered landscape of extraordinary beauty and evocation.


Of Huguenot descent, Paul Crespin (1694–1770) was born and trained in London. He enjoyed the patronage of aristocracy both at home and abroad. In 1724, he produced an enormous silver bathtub weighing over 6,000 ounces for the King of Portugal. Although quite modest in scale, each of the works shown here is characterized by an exquisite use of finely detailed ornament. The cruet set has been compared to a miniature formal garden in its overall design.
Provenance:February 1, 1995, in discussion with Edward Firestone of Firestone and Parson, Boston, the dealer from whom CWF acquired this object, he mentioned that the set had been in Harold Wilson's possession for several years, Wilson having bought it from S. J. Phillips, the London dealer. According to Firestone, Phillips acquired it in Portugal, where Crespin was heavily patronized by the crown and court.
Mark(s):Fully marked on underside of tray: (1) sponsor's mark "CR" with a shell above a mullet below within a conforming reserve (Grimwade 406), (2) leopard's head crowned overstriking the figure of Britannia, (3) lion passant overstriking a lion's head erased, and (4) date letter for 1721/22.
Inscription(s):Uninscribed as to owner.