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One of a pair of Ladles or cuillers for use with two Pots à Oille and Stands made by Nicolas Besnier in Paris 1726-1727 for Horatio Walpole whilst ambassador in France [1723-1730]. The other ladle or ‘cuiller à pot à oille’ was formerly in the Puiforcat collection and is illustrated in ‘Three Centuries of French Domestic Silver’, by Faith Dennis, published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 1960. [See Volume one, page 136, catalogue number 182 and Volume two, page 72]. The marks attributed to Pierre Hannier [probably], Paris 1726-7. The front of the cuiller handle is flat-chased and engraved with panels of stylised leaves in a geometric arrangement below an escalop shell with roundels between and below the panels, terminating in three pellets and finally a wavy teardrop near the junction with the circular bowl. The reverse of the handle is engraved at the top with the Royal Arms of George I and with the Walpole family crest just above the lobed heel.
The two Pots à Oille and stands were recently acquired by the Louvre Museum through private treaty purchase, as outstanding national treasures, but the whereabouts of the other [Puiforcat Collection] cuiller are at present unknown.
Provenance of this cuiller: Captain Henry Birkbeck of High House, West Acre, Norfolk, by descent from Henry Birkbeck who married 25/10/1849, Mary Anne, eldest daughter of Anthony Hamond of High House. Anthony Hamond of South Wootton, who died in 1743, had married Susan Walpole (sister of Horatio and Robert). His son and heir, Richard, died unmarried and the Hamond estates devolved upon his nephew, another Anthony Hamond, from whom Henry Birkbeck’s wife was descended.
Two letters [February and April 1724], written by Horatio to his brother, the Prime Minister, Robert Walpole, express his desire to live in an appropriate style in Paris and suggest that he would prefer to be given the equivalent Jewel Office allowance of plate in cash value to enable him to purchase the plate to be made in Paris rather than in London: ‘Tho’ I hope I shall not be settled as an established Minister here, yett during my Stay, I doe intend to live as ye King’s Ambassadour, and as Robt. Walpole’s Brother, and I would gladly know whether the plate to be issued, must be taken in kind out of ye Jewell office, or ye value of it may be had in money: because ye fashion & design in making it is so much hansomer here than in London that I would have as much made here as I can.’ [Brit. Lib. Add MSS. 63749A] The Jewel Office account list an allowance of some 1070ozs. of silver-gilt plate and 5917 ozs. of white plate to Walpole on 16th October 1724. The list includes ‘Two Terrains & two Dishes’ weighing 517 ozs. 7dwts.
|Height||40.95 cm||(16.12 inches)|
|Width||10.20 cm||(4.02 inches)|