This pair of ormolu ice pails can be attributed to Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) based upon the design in his Pattern Book reproduced here. It was created in the spirit of copying or inventing ‘new modes of luxury and magnificence’ by those ‘who have lived amongst the French’ and meant to be produced in ormolu or silver (N. Goodison, Matthew Boulton: Ormolu, London, 2002, p.258). The first examples were commissioned by the Duke of Ancaster in 1772 who order a total of five in two different sizes. Subsequent commissions were from the Earl of Ashburnham (four in the Ancaster pattern), the Earl of Coventry (a pair), the Countess of Derby and the Earl Beauchamp. (ibid, p.257).
An identical example to the present lot owned by Sir Patrick Thomas, a direct descendant of Matthew Boulton now in the Victoria and Albert Museum is illustrated in Goodison, 2002, p. 258. Other ice pails attributed to Boulton include a pair sold anonymously at Christie’s, London, 23 November 2003, lot 12 and two identical pairs to the present lot: one sold anonymously at Sothebys, New York, 21 October 2000, lot 54 and the other sold anonymously at Druot, Paris, 20 November 2002, lot 94.