Augustine Courtauld (1685/6-1751)
Augustine Courtauld’s family came to England from France as part of the late 17th century Huguenot exodus. Helen Clifford, in her entry on Courtauld family in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, disproves the traditional tale that he was brought to England by his father as an infant in 1687, concealed in a basket of vegetables. She notes that in reality he remained in France with his grandfather and made the journey almost ten years later. Augustine’s father, also Augustine (1655-1706), was a merchant from St. Pierre in the Île d'Oléron near La Rochelle. He established himself in London and was an active member of the Huguenot community. He secured a potentially prosperous future for his son by apprenticing him to a fellow Huguenot, the goldsmith Simon Pantin, to whom Augustine junior’s half-brother Peter (1689/90–1729) was also apprenticed. Augustine senior died before either son was granted the freedom of the Goldsmiths’ Company, however he was the patriarch of a silversmithing family which went on to include of Augustine junior’s son Samuel (1720–1765) and Samuel’s wife Louisa who managed the business after his early death at the age of forty-five. Their son, Samuel Courtauld II (1752–1821), also followed his father into the trade.
Another of Samuel II and Louisa’s sons, George, was apprenticed to a silk weaver and was the founder of the business which eventually became Courtaulds PLC, now part of Akzo Nobel, whose substantial collection of silver by the Courtauld family is exhibited at the Courtauld Institute in London, much of which was the subject of a privately printed catalogue (Some silver wrought by the Courtauld family of silversmiths, Oxford, 1940), by Ernest Alfred Jones and the art collector and philanthropist Samuel Courtauld, brother of Sir Stephen Courtauld (see above). The collection has been recently redisplayed and a new catalogue published – H. Braham, A Century of Silver, The Courtauld Family of Silversmiths, 1710-1780, London, 2014.
Under the tutelage of his master, Augustine Courtauld perfected the art of crafting pieces of characteristically heavy gauge and fine quality. Much of this work was smaller domestic pieces perhaps in contrast to the commissions for large decorative pieces executed by fellow Huguenot silversmiths such as David Willaume, Paul de Lamerie and Pierre Harache. He produced many fine two-handled cups, vessels for tea, coffee and chocolate and decoratively bordered trays and salvers. Amongst the small number of highly ambitious works was a silver table, constituent part of toilets services and a centrepiece made for the Russian court. He made a comfortable living, so much so that he was able to invest in the East India Company, accumulate property and sit for a portrait by the Swedish born painter and follower of Michael Dahl Hans Hysing (1678–1753).
Lionel Tollemache, 4th Earl of Dysart (1708-1770)
The 4th Earl Dysart inherited his grandfather's title and extensive estates in 1727. His inheritance included Ham House, Surrey; Helmingham Hall, Suffolk; Harrington and a 20,000 acre estate in Cheshire. Two years later in 1729 he was elected High Steward of Ipswich and in the same year married Lady Grace Carteret (1713-1755), daughter of John Carteret, 2nd Earl Granville. Although he commissioned many new pieces for his houses he did not sweep aside the work of his ancestors. Both at Helmingham and Ham he renovated and refurbished, adding to the existing collections, in many cases in an antiquarian spirit.
As a young man he travelled extensively on the Continent visiting France, Switzerland and Italy. Over six feet in height, he had an understated style, spending little time on his public life preferring to devote his efforts to his houses and collections. Extensive research has been conducted into his work and collections at Ham House in the recently published work edited by Christopher Rowell (Ham House, 400 Years of Collecting and Patronage, London, 2013). Archival research by Elizabeth Jamieson and a study of the 4th Earl's silver collection by Tessa Murdoch reveals a meticulous record-keeper and dedicated patron. Surviving pieces from the Earl's collection and a treasure trove of silversmiths bills document the Earl's taste for the finest work of the leading Huguenot goldsmiths of the day. Paul Crespin supplied much of the Earl's dinner service, Anne Tanqueray pieces for the dressing table, and her brother David Willaume a chamber pot and a bread basket.
His purchases were not restricted to London goldsmiths. His love of the latest fashion is demonstrated by his acquisition of the magnificent candelabra by the greatest 18th century Parisian goldsmith, Thomas Germain. Much copied by later goldsmiths they epitomise the sculptural quality of Germain's work. Tessa Murdoch notes that 'the engraved armorials on any silver he had inherited were replaced with his own (op. cit., p.240). In the 1730s the engraver Charles Gardner worked for the Earl. The engraving on these jugs post-dates 1743 when the Earl was made a Knight of the Thistle. It is likely to pre-date the death of his wife in 1755 as her arms are impaled with those of Tollemache. This suggests the work was conducted by Paul Crespin's workshop as he was supplying Lord Dysart with large quantities of plate in this period.