Paul de Lamerie English Sterling Silver Cream Boat, London, 1742/43
Using various casting and chasing techniques and incorporating brilliant design, Paul de Lamerie achieves a visually striking and important work of art in this cream boat.
Extending from a cast shell above, a bird's head forms part of the double scroll handle which joins the lower body with a wonderfully cast naturalistic foliate terminus.
The bold rococo design is also seen in the four beautifully scrolled 'cinnamon bun' feet which emerge from the body out of stunning rococo masks. These fluid, watery masks are exceptional examples of naturalistic auricular silver.
An arrangement of cast grapes, vines and foliage are applied on each side; this design is united into the lobed body with chased elements. Above each draping of grapes is a cast and applied cow's head incorporated into the shaped rim.
It appears as if the cow is leaning over the rim to graze on the vines, lending itself to clever design and apropos symbolism for a cream boat. It is interesting to note that all of these decorative elements were cast and applied which, although the creamer is small, gives the design great depth and this cream boat great presence.
Paul de Lamerie (1688-1751) and Paul Storr were the most important English silversmiths. From a Huguenot family that escaped France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Lamerie started his apprenticeship at the age of 15 in 1703 working for the important Huguenot silversmith Pierre Patel and recorded his first mark as master in 1713.
During the first half of the eighteenth century no other silversmith, by himself or in conjunction with others, created the breathtaking body of work that came from Lamerie's shop. With his talent and ambition, Lamerie became the principal supplier of silver to the English aristocracy whose wealth was growing exponentially at the time.
His career navigated many styles masterfully. While he created silver in simpler styles, it is his highly original rococo fashioned silver for which he is so revered. (It was also this highly decorated silver that was the most expensive at the time.)
The early 1740's saw the blossoming of the most exuberant of the English rococo styles. Fully naturalistic, it included boldly cast figural devices, foliage, fruit and flowers.
Lamerie was at the peak of his career when this was made, involved in major commissions for Algernon Coote, 6th Earl of Mountrath, John, 2nd Earl of Ashburnham and others. Many of these pieces are now found in the best museum collections. Although small, this wonderful cream boat is one of the finest pieces of rococo silver ever made.
This extraordinary cream boat is fully hallmarked underneath. It measures 4.5 inches across handle and spout by 3.5 inches high. It weighs an impressive 6.70 troy ounces and is in very good antique condition.