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Model for a cup and cover

  • Place of origin:

    Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1760-1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plaster, red coloured wax, metal wire, metal core to stem of cup, brown wash.

  • Museum number:

    M.37:1, 2-2013

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery, case 18, shelf 2 []

A silversmith's model in plaster and wax of a two-handled cup and cover, with serpent handles, pendant miniatures and pine-cone finial. Such silver two handled cups were made from 1760-1800 as trophies for horse-racing. particularly associated with the race meetings in Doncaster and Richmond, both in the county of Yorkshire, in the north of England. The decoration on this model may have been intended to celebrate a marriage as tied ribbon-bows and the twin medallion frames (although empty) are linked by foliate festoons symbolic of such life-events. The pine-cone is a symbol of fertility and associated with Bacchus, Classical god of wine. The elegant proportions indicate that the model was probably based on an architect's designs. The Scottish architect Robert Adam's designs for the gold Richmond Race Cup, 1759-60, and his brother James Adam's, 1764 design for a vase for Lieutenant General Lascelles, demonstrate that such celebratory vessels were often specially made to commission. This is a rare survival illustrating the process of modelling a vessel from a two-dimensionsal source, a print or drawing, and demonstrates and important stage in the design and production of a silver vase and cover.

Physical description

A vase-shaped cup cast in plaster on a spreading fluted foot with a foliate border surmounted by a pine cone finial (modelled in wax). The body of the cup is divided horizontally in three sections, the upper section is decorated with an applied foliate Vitruvian scroll frieze; the central section has a pendant medallion on each side with a tied ribbon bow above adorned with foliate swags. The handles are modelled in wax over a wire armature as twinned twisted serpents, their heads aligned on either side of the handle with the rim of the cup. The spreading fluted cover has a foliate and beaded rim and collar and rises to a bell-shaped support to the pine-cone finial. The outer plaster surface of the vase and cover are coated in clay-coloured paint. The wax is tinted a dark reddish brown.

Place of Origin

Britain (made)


1760-1800 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Plaster, red coloured wax, metal wire, metal core to stem of cup, brown wash.


Height: 17.25 in whole, Height: 16 cm lid, Diameter: 16.5 cm lid, Height: 26.7 cm cup, Diameter: 11 cm

Object history note

The piece was acquired from the Fould Springer Collection at Royaumont Abbey a neo-classical mansion just north of Paris. Liliane Fould Springer (1916-2003) was the wife of Baron Elie de Rothschild (1917-2007) and many of the pieces in the house were acquired by the Baron or came from the Rothschild family collections.

Descriptive line

A plaster and wax model for a two-handled neo-classical silver cup and cover


Plaster; Wax; Wire; Paint; Material; Metal


Modelling; Casting


Designs; Silver; Vases


Metalwork Collection

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