COLLECTION: Metals

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Wine fountain

1702-1703
Origin: England, London
H: 24 5/8" OW: 14 1/2" Diam (base): 7"
Silver (Britannia); Gold (Silver-gilt)
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1938-44
Wine fountain, silver-gilt; plain button atop spherical finial with upper half chased with fluting atop cover composed of two conical sections divided into molded stages with bands of reeding and chased fluting; bezel of cover fitting within rim and neck of body; short contracted neck with band of chased fluting below on inverted baluster-shaped body; body divided horizontally into three sections, each chased with a wide band of fluting; cast lions' masks holding swing handles with balls of octagonal section with a reeded ball in the center of each applied to opposed sides of upper section of body; chased circular reserve for engraved armorials enclosed by scrolls and scale ornament on face of upper section, centered between handles; cast tap with dolphin's head spout and dolphin handle issuing from mask on lowest section of body; body supported on splayed circular base with reeded and fluted upper section, gadrooned shoulder, and molded edge.

Arms of John Holles (1662-1711), Earl of Clare and Duke of Newcastle, engraved on face of body. Arms of Holles impaling Eastley, Scopham, Hanham, Denzell, Gilbert, Clare, Sergeaux, Bulbeck, Vere, Sandford, and Baldesmere, enclosed within a collar with the Garter motto, flanked by supporters, and surmounted by a ducal coronet.




Label:Among the most lavish productions of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries are forms used in the service of wine, such as the wine cistern and wine fountain, monteith, and ice pail. Wine cisterns of various materials have a much earlier history than wine fountains. Appearing in Continental prints and paintings from the late fifteenth century on, their use in England can be documented from the following century. The 1574 inventory of the plate of Elizabeth I contains "Item oone greate Sesterne of siluer to serue for a Cupbourde poiz" with a weight of 525 1/2 ounces. The wine fountain in the form of a large urn fitted with a tap does not appear to have been used in England before the reign of Charles II. Although sometimes made en suite with a wine cistern, fountains appear to have been less common than cisterns then, and they have survived in fewer numbers to this day. There is no recorded companion cistern for this fountain.

Even though the large wine cistern was intended to rest on the floor and house chilling bottles of wine, and the wine fountain to rest on a side table and dispense the wine, such vessels, even in royal circumstances, were sometimes used for the more mundane task of washing dishes. The Treasury copy of the 1721 inventory of royal plate lists one fountain and small cistern, which are described in the lord chamberlain's copy of the same document as a "fountain and washer."

Such vessels were not unknown, or at least not unthought-of of, in Williamsburg. When the Council drafted in 1710 a proposed list of furnishings for the Governor's Palace "for rendering the new House Convenient as well as Ornamental," they included "one Marble Buffette or sideboard with a Cistern & fountain." There is no indication whether these were to be of silver or some lesser metal, or whether they were actually acquired.

This splendid example of elegant baluster form is less ornate than most examples. It is enriched with bands of chased flutes, a form of decoration especially popular during the first decade of the eighteenth century. They act as an effective foil for its bold architectural form and the handsome lions' masks with pendant handles. Such masks were frequently employed as attachments for handles on large vessels. They represent some of the finest examples of cast work during this period.
Provenance:The dukes of Newcastle (sold at Christie, Manson &Woods, London, 1921)

H. H. Mulliner (sold at Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 1924)

Ex Coll: William Randolph Hearst (sold by Parish-Watson & Co., New
York, 1938)

Mark(s):Britannia standard. Maker's mark an anchor with "W" in the left and "A" to the right in block letters within a shaped shield, lion's head erased, Britannia, and date letter on face of neck below cover. Maker's mark and lion's head erased on bezel of cover. Lion's head erased on face of base molding
Inscription(s):Arms of John Holies (1662-1711), earl of Clare and duke of Newcastle, engraved on face of body. Arms of Holles impaling Eastley, Scopham, Hanham, Denzell, Gilbert, Clare, Sergeaux, Bulbeck, Vere, Sandford, and Baldesmere, enclosed within Garter motto, flanked by supporters, and surmounted by ducal coronet.