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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 71, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries

Basket

1797-1798 (hallmarked)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This basket, wrought to look like woven ears of wheat, was made for the wealthy collector and patron, William Beckford (1760-1844) of Fonthill Abbey. Silver baskets were normally used to serve bread at the dinner table, but this one is extremely heavy and thus was most probably intended for display only.

By the early 19th century, the immense wealth of Britain's richest citizens enabled them to patronise the luxury trades of coach-builders, cabinet-makers and silversmiths. The Prince Regent (later George IV) and his aristocratic contemporaries set the style of what became known as the Regency period. They were indebted to the most prestigious firm of London goldsmiths of the age, Rundell, Bridge & Rundell. The company supplied silver at the forefront of fashion. Their large design studio included important artists such as John Flaxman and Jean-Jacques Boileau.

Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world's great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. They also collected a pair of Chinese Ch'ien-lung porcelain coffee pots ca.1736 to which the London silversmith James Aldridge added silver mounts for William Beckford in 1820-21 and a carved agate cup with with cast and engraved gilded silver mounts, 1815-20. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Cast, pierced, chased and engraved silver-gilt
Brief Description
Silver-gilt basket in the form of plaited ears of wheat; Paul Storr, London, 1797-98
Physical Description
Silver-gilt basket in the form of plaited ears of wheat. The pierced rim foot is chased with trellised basketwork with plaiting above and below. The spreading sides are formed as forty groups of three ears of wheat plaited together, the curling ears forming the border. A band of reed-and-tie ornament is applied around the lower part of the basket. The underside of the plain base is engraved with the crest of William Beckford (1760-1844).
Dimensions
  • Height: 13.5cm
  • Width: 51.5cm
  • Depth: 39.5cm
  • Weight: 8580g
Updated with measurements taken 20/08/08
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Engraved with the armorial crest of William Beckford A heron's head erased or, gorged with a collar flory, counterflory gules in the beak a fish argent.
  • London hallmarks for 1797-98
  • Mark of Paul Storr
Gallery Label
  • 1. Basket with plaited wheat 1797–98 This basket represents woven ears of wheat, an appropriate decoration for serving bread. Wheat symbolised harvest and hospitality. This basket was made for the famous collector William Beckford by the celebrated goldsmith Paul Storr. London, England; Paul Storr (1771–1844) Gilded silver Engraved with crest of William Beckford (1760–1844) Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.735-2008(16/11/2016)
  • Basket with plaited wheat 1797–8 The basket, designed to look like woven ears of wheat, was made for the wealthy collector and patron, William Beckford (1760–1844). It may have been designed by Beckford himself or his friend Gregorio Franchi. Silver baskets were used to serve bread at the dinner table, but this one is extremely heavy and must have been intended for display. London, England; Paul Storr (1771–1844) Gilded silver Engraved with crest of William Beckford Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.735-2008(2009)
Credit line
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Object history
Provenance: William Beckford, Fonthill Abbey, Wiltshire; sale, Christie's, lot 75 or 76 (9th day's sale), 18 October 1822. John Farquhar. Victor Rothschild; sale, Sotheby's, lot 20 (the pair). April 26th, 1937. Francis Stonor. Mrs. Fay Plohn; sale, Sotheby's, lot 79, October 15th, 1970. Purchased from S.J. Shrubsole Corporation, New York, 1970.
Historical context
This basket is one of a pair although the present whereabouts of the other is unknown. They were intended for bread and probably placed on the dining table or side board.
Production
The foot is cast and fastened to the upper part of the basket with eight pins; the base is fitted between the foot and basket and is not otherwise secured. The sides are formed from plaited and soldered wires. The band of reed and tie is cast and applied to the stalks.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This basket, wrought to look like woven ears of wheat, was made for the wealthy collector and patron, William Beckford (1760-1844) of Fonthill Abbey. Silver baskets were normally used to serve bread at the dinner table, but this one is extremely heavy and thus was most probably intended for display only.



By the early 19th century, the immense wealth of Britain's richest citizens enabled them to patronise the luxury trades of coach-builders, cabinet-makers and silversmiths. The Prince Regent (later George IV) and his aristocratic contemporaries set the style of what became known as the Regency period. They were indebted to the most prestigious firm of London goldsmiths of the age, Rundell, Bridge & Rundell. The company supplied silver at the forefront of fashion. Their large design studio included important artists such as John Flaxman and Jean-Jacques Boileau.



Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world's great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. They also collected a pair of Chinese Ch'ien-lung porcelain coffee pots ca.1736 to which the London silversmith James Aldridge added silver mounts for William Beckford in 1820-21 and a carved agate cup with with cast and engraved gilded silver mounts, 1815-20. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.
Bibliographic References
  • Penzer, N. M. Paul Storr, 1771-1844: Silversmith and Goldsmith. London, B. T. Batsford, 1954. Reprint. London: Spring Books, 1971, pl. X, p. 98. Schroder, Timothy, The GIlbert Collection of Gold and Silver, Los Angeles, 1988, no.86, pp.324-327.
  • Art at Auction: The Year at Sotheby's and Parke-Bernet 1970-71, London; New York: Sotheby & Co. [etc.], p. 309.
  • Hillier, Bevis. 'The Gilbert Collection of Silver'. The Connoisseur, June 1976, vol. 192, no.772, pp. 114-21.
  • Snodin, Michael and Baker, Malcolm. 'William Beckford's Silver II', The Burlington Magazine, December 1980, p. 828, Appendix E20.
  • Brett, Vanessa. The Sotheby's Directory of Silver, 1600-1940. London: Sotheby Publications, 1986, no.1112. ISBN.0856671932.
  • Schroder, Timothy. The Gilbert collection of gold and silver. Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) 1988, cat. no. 86, pp. 324-27. ISBN.0875871445.
  • Jones, William Ezelle, Monumental Silver: Selections from the Gilbert Collection. Los Angeles : Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1977no.21
  • Gilbert, Arthur. Monumental Silver: The Gilbert Collection, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1974no.11
  • Clark, Mark A., Paul Storr Silver in American Collections, Indianapolis ; Dayton, 1972no.6
Other Numbers
  • SG 33 - Arthur Gilbert Number
  • M.77.1.4 - LACMA
  • 1996.12 - The Gilbert Collection, Somerset House
  • SG 362 i - Arthur Gilbert Number
  • 2001.10 - The Gilbert Collection, Somerset House
Collection
Accession Number
LOAN:GILBERT.735-2008

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record createdJune 19, 2008
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