A REGENCY SILVER COVERED WINE COOLER
A REGENCY SILVER COVERED WINE COOLER

MARK OF BENJAMIN SMITH II & BENJAMIN SMITH III, LONDON, 1818

Details
A REGENCY SILVER COVERED WINE COOLER
MARK OF BENJAMIN SMITH II & BENJAMIN SMITH III, LONDON, 1818
The vase on base applied with four cast winged lions, the body applied with a classical bacchic frieze incorporating musicians and dancers above an applied acanthus leaf calyx, with reeded foliate handles and egg and dart rim, the detachable collar with grapevine leaf border, the partly fluted cover with vine spray finial, fully marked, the foot engraved HAMLET FECIT. PRINCES STREET
18 in. (45.7 cm.) high; 229 oz. (6,492 gr.)
Provenance
Dr. H.S. Firman, sold Christie's, London, 19 September 1979, lot 185
Literature
J.B. Hawkins, The Al Tajir Collection of Silver and Gold, 1983, vol. I, p.143
Exhibited
Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences, English Regency Silver from the Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman, February-June 1995, no. 49

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Lot Essay

The design for this wine cooler is derived from two drawings in G.B. Piranesi's highly influential publication Vasi, Candelabra, Cippi, Sarcofagi, as it combines the frieze of the Borghese Vase with the calyx, handles, and mask joins from the Medici Krater. A design drawing for a wine cooler which incorporates Piranesi's images has been attributed to J.J. Boileau and is now at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Works in silver executed to this design, with winged-lion bases, include a set of eight silver-gilt wine coolers by Benjamin and James Smith of 1808 in the Royal Collection and illustrated in E.A. Jones, The Gold and Silver of Windsor Castle, 1911, p. LVII, p. 112, and a pair of wine coolers by Benjamin and James Smith of 1810 depicted in The Glory of the Goldsmith: Magnificent Gold and Silver from the Al-Tajir Collection, 1989, no. 130, p. 169 (see H. Young, "A Further Note on J.J. Boileau, a Forgotten designer of Silver," Apollo, October 1986, pp. 234-37).

The present example was further adapted by the addition of a detachable grape-cluster collar and cover and winged-lion bases. A pair of wine coolers with detachable shoulders and covers, without the winged-lion base, by Benjamin Smith of 1818, sold at Christie's, London, 22 May 1991, lot 173.

This cup also bears the retailer's stamp of Thomas Hamlet. Thought to be the illegitimate son of Sir Francis Dashwood, the notorious founder of the Hellfire Club, Hamlet opened a silver and jewelry retail shop in 1800. He was very successful in catering to the upper classes, but eventually was ruined by risky financial speculations.

Photo caption:
Engraving of the Borghese Vase depicting bacchanalian frieze, G.B. Piranesi, Vasi, Candelabri, Cippi, Sarcofagi..., 1778
Courtesy Art and Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library

Photo caption:
Engraving of the Medici Krater, G.B. Piranesi, Vasi, Candelabri, Cippi, Sarcofagi..., 1778
Courtesy Art and Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library

Photo caption:
Design for a wine cooler attributed to J.J. Boileau
Courtesy Board of Trustees of the Victoria & Albert Museum
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