Peter Taylor - The Breton Family George II Sterling Silver English Rococo Two Handled Cup and Cover, London, 1741/42, bearing the arms of Breton for Eliab Breton of Norton Hall, Norton, and Forty Hall, Enfield
This outstanding covered cup features very fine repousse and flat chased rococo decoration around its body and lid. Bold foliate, scroll and rocaille decoration are prominently displayed over much of the surface both above and below the drawn and applied band around the mid-section. The stepped foot has foliate decoration near the edge. Both cast and applied handles with acanthus leaf thumb rests are finished with hand chased decoration. The domed lid is topped with a large artichoke finial.
Centrally located on each side are asymmetrical cartouches engraved with the arms of Breton with, on an escutcheon of pretense, the arms of Wolstenholme quartering Raynton for Eliab Breton. The lid is similarly twice engraved with the family's crest, a lion or bear's paw and forearm (gamb).
A very fine example of rococo silver from the George II period, this cup is fully marked underneath and along the rim bezel. It measures 10.5 inches high, weighs 38.2 troy ounces and is in excellent antique condition.
Peter Taylor's work is rarely found today, but he is regarded as a particularly fine maker. The understated Arthur Grimwade notes of Taylor: "Although rare, his work when found shows a high standard of craftsmanship coupled with a nice use of rococo ornament."(1) The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, chose to use details of a wonderful chinoiserie tea caddy by Peter Taylor for the cover art of their recent catalog.
Eliab Breton (1710-85) of Norton Hall, Norton, Northamptonshire married Elizabeth Wolstenholme in 1740. Norton Hall and the associated estates were substantial. Although Norton Hall was demolished after the Second World War, the land today is owned by the Marquis of Bath.
Elizabeth Wolstenholme was the daughter and heiress of Sir William Wolstenholme, Bt. and Mary Raynton, daughter and heiress of Sir Nicholas Raynton, 2nd Baronet who inherited the estate and title of his uncle, Sir Nicholas Raynton, a prominent and wealthy London merchant who became Lord Mayor of London in 1632 and was knighted in 1633. The first Sir Nicholas Raynton purchased the land and built Forty Hall, Enfield, Middlesex, c. 1632. When Sir William Wolstenholme inherited the mansion he made significant updates c. 1700.
When Eliab Breton and his wife Elizabeth moved into Forty Hall in 1740, it looked much as it does today.(2) Currently, Forty Hall operates as a museum.
In a cartouche which originally hung above the front door (see below), the arms of Eliab Breton - identical to those on this cup - were found after removing many layers of later paint.(3) It is fun to speculate what place of honor this cup held in such a wonderful home!
Arthur Grimwade, London Goldsmiths 1697-1837: Their Marks and Lives, p.678
Geoffrey Gillam, Forty Hall: Enfield, (Boughton Gifford: The Enfield Archaeological Society, 1997), pp. 15-22
Private conversation with Gavin Williams, manager, Forty Hall Museum on 17 October 2006. Many thanks for his kind assistance with this research!