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Caster for cruet set

1721-1722
Origin: England, London
Oh: 3 1/2"; OW(base): 1 7/8"
Silver (Britannia)
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1979-399,5
Silver cruet caster with cast finial of ball-bell-molding-stem-base sequence, all of octagonal plan with rivet attachment through top of cover; tall domed covers of octagonal plan flaring at rims to profiled banding above a ribboned molding with a matted ground; short bezel on underside of cover fitting within rim of body; tall vertical body of octagonal form with straight sides and molded base repeating the bandings and moldings rimming the cover; sides of caster chiselled and chased with scenes from Aesop's fables enhanced with foliated scrolls and foliated strapwork panels enclosing diapering on a matter ground. Cast handle in the form of winged caryatids soldered to side of body.
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):Undersides of box, casters, and cruets partially marked with multiple strikings of the sponsor's mark to simulate hallmarks; covers of each unmarked