The design for these salt cellars is attributed to the painter and sculptor William Theed (1764-1817), on the basis of its close similarity to the artist's bronze "Thetis returning from Vulcan with Arms for Achilles," in the Royal Collection and exhibited in the Royal Academy of Arts Bicentenary Exhibition, fig. 171, p. 50. Theed supplied designs and worked as the chief modeler for Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, and a design drawing for these salt cellars from an album belonging to Rundell's is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum (see A. Phillips and J. Sloane, Antiquity Revisited: English and French Silver-Gilt from the Collection of Audrey Love, 1997, pp. 48-49).
There are at least three variations of this model, each with a differing base. A set of 24 with oval base by Paul Storr of 1810 is in the Royal Collection, and one is illustrated in Carlton House: The Past Glories of George IV's Palace, 1991, cat. no. 95, p. 133. A set of four salt cellars with oval base, by William Pitts of 1813, is illustrated in Antiquity Revisited, cat. no. 6, p. 47. A set of four, each on rectangular plinth with chased vitruvian scroll border, by Paul Storr from 1812, sold from the collection of Charles and Fay Plohn, Sotheby's, New York, July 16, 1970, lot 138.
A set of four salt cellars, each with a base similar to the present lot, was produced by John Samuel Hunt in 1855 and sold at Christie's, London, March 17, 1999, lot 50. As a successor to Paul Storr, Hunt evidently retained and continued to use the salt cellar's mold.