The form, calyx and handles of these wine coolers are derived from the famous Medici Krater, as engraved by Piranesi in Vasi, Candelabri, Cippi, Sarcofagi of 1778; yet the Triumph of Bacchus frieze is derived from a Roman sarcophagus in the Vatican Museum and published by E. Q. Visconti, in Museo Pio-Clementio in 1782-1802, (see D. Udy, "Piranesi's 'Vasi', the English Silversmith and his Patrons", Burlington Magazine, December 1978, pp. 828-29).
Looking to antiquity for sources, silver designers used engravings of Roman archaeological discoveries published by Piranesi, Visconti and others. It is known, for example, that the Storr workshop had a number of Piranesi's engravings and it seems almost certain that the workshop, or the firm's retailer Rundell's, also owned copies of Visconti's work. Indeed, the present lot relates directly to a working design for Rundell's produced either by John Flaxman or William Theed, now contained within a folio labelled "Designs for Plate by John Flaxman, etc." in the Victoria and Albert Museum (see C. Oman, "A Problem of Artistic Responsibility," Apollo, March 1966, pp. 174-83).
Rundell's commissioned Storr to make wine coolers of this important model on more than one occasion. A set of eight by Digby Scott and Benjamin Smith of 1808 are in the Royal Collection. Six, on detachable stands of 1809 and 1811, made for the 1st Earl Howe, sold at Christie's, London, 1 July 1953, lots 107 and 108 and are illustrated in N. M. Penzer, Paul Storr: The Last of the Goldsmiths, 1954, pl. XXIX. Another set of four by Paul Storr of 1811 is illustrated in P. Waldron, The Price Guide to Antique Silver, 1982, p. 333, no. 1087 and sold at Christie's, London, March 17, 1999, lot 83. A pair by Paul Storr of 1808 are in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and another pair by the same maker of 1809-10 are in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.