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Chamber candlestick.
  • Chamber candlestick.
    Crespin, Paul, born 1694 - died 1770
  • Enlarge image

Chamber candlestick.

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1744-1745 (hallmarked)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Crespin, Paul, born 1694 - died 1770 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver, embossed, cast, chased and engraved, originally gilt

  • Museum number:

    M.2-1980

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 53, case 2

Object Type
Chamber candlesticks usually have a short stem and small nozzle, with a handle attached to the drip pan, enabling them to be easily portable. They were used to light the route to and within the bed chamber, and as such are intimate items for personal use.

People
The grandeur of this sophisticated example, which was originally gilt, suggests it was commissioned for a significant aristocratic patron of great wealth. Paul Crespin (1694-1770) had many such patrons.

Design & Influence
The highly successful modelling of the cupid, flower-shaped nozzle and twisted stem are matched in quality by the superb detailing of the chased ornament. The pose of the cupid is similar to the mermaid supports of a set of shell dishes made in 1739 by Paul de Lamerie (1688-1751), which are themselves examples of the Rococo revival of Baroque figural supports. Crespin's work reveals the continued influence of French ornamental designs. His designs are close to current French styles as practised by renowned silversmiths such as Thomas Germain (1673-1748). Nicolas de Largillière's celebrated double-portrait Thomas Germain and his Wife (1736) in the Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon,shows a terracotta model of a cupid in this same pose.

Physical description

Asymmetrical heart-shaped base with scrolling, bifurcated handle. A continuous raised scroll at either edge sweeps towards the front enclosing a dished area at the centre of which reclines a cupid on a bed of trailing flowers and scrolls. With his left hand, the winged cupid raises himself and grasps a bow; with his right he supports a bud-shaped candle holder. The bud rises on a twisted stem from the bed of flowers and scrolls at the centre. Two small scrolls at the front of the base curve outwards overlapping the inward curving ends of the other scrolls and meeting in a projecting tongue at the front.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

1744-1745 (hallmarked)

Artist/maker

Crespin, Paul, born 1694 - died 1770 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silver, embossed, cast, chased and engraved, originally gilt

Marks and inscriptions

'PC' in shaped reserve
A full set of punched marks are situated at the front underside of the base: these consist of the maker's mark, the date letter for 1744/5, the leopard's head hallmark for London and the sterling standard mark.

lion passant
Standard mark (Hallmark); base (underside); punched

leopard's head crowned
Town mark (Hallmark); base (underside); punched

'i'
Hallmark; base (underside); punched; 1744-1745

Dimensions

Height: 18 cm, Width: 11 cm, Depth: 14.4 cm

Object history note

Made in the London workshop of Paul Crespin (born in London 1694, died in Southampton, 1770)

Little is known of Crespin’s workshop, but in the 1730s and 1740s his clients included his landlord the Duke of Portland, Crespin’s landlord of his premises which were at the corner of Compton Street and Greek Street, Soho, whom Crespin supplied with large quantities of table silver over the next 20 years. Crespin also supplied the 4th Earl of Dysart in the 1730s and 40s. A manuscript in the Goldsmiths’ Company records the range of silver Crespin produced for Viscount Townshend between 1740 and 1759.

The elaborate marine silver-gilt centrepiece bearing Crespin’s mark and the London hallmarks for 1741, made for Frederick, Prince of Wales, may have been produced in collaboration with Nicholas Sprimont.
Sprimont also worked in Compton Street, Soho, from 1743 when he registered his mark, to 1748 when he is recorded as paying rates for the site of the Chelsea Porcelain Manufactory in Lawrence Street. It is possible that Sprimont initially shared Crespin’s workshop.

In February 1747, the London newspaper The General Advertiser declares: “Bankrupt: Paul Crespin, of the Parish of St Anne Soho, Silversmith”. The same paper declares that the auctioneer John Heath would be selling “the Gold and Silver Toys late of Mr Paul Crespin (design’d for Exportation) consisting of Gold and Silver Snuff Boxes, Etwees, Tooth-pick Cases, false Stone Buckels, Gold and Silver Watches, Jewels, Rings, and Seals with sundry other Curiosities. Likewise, a small Collection of Pictures, some Household Furniture & a curious Month Clock by Quare and Horseman”.

Historical significance: The candlestick lacks armorials and cannot be associated with a particular owner. Paul Crespin's workshop made royal commissions, and supplied major aristocratic clients, such as Charles Churchill, 3rd Duke of Marlborough. At its best, the work rivalled that of Paul de Lamerie's workshop, and this candlestick is a good example of sophisticated Rococo design for which Crespin was noted from the 1730s.

Paul Crespin worked closely with other French emigré silversmiths including Paul de Lamerie and Nicholas Sprimont. A pair of candlesticks bearing de Lamerie's maker's mark and hallmarked in London in 1742/3 incorporate putti terms as a support for the stems, which rise, like this chamberstick, from a flower calyx. The dynamic weight bearing pose of Crespin's cupid, which leans back on one hand, whilst the other appears to support the body of the piece, is also similar to that of the mermaids who support shell dishes in a set of salts bearing de Lamerie's mark and the date letter for 1739. The device of a weight- bearing human figure was much used in the late 17th century - see engravings by Jean Le Pautre. It was revived and further developed as a Rococo device in the second quarter of the 18th century.

This model was also found in contemporary porcelain and was copied in the early 19th century and again in the 1860s. An example in ormolu in the collections of the Marquess of Tavistock and the Trustees of the Bedford Estate was included in the exhibition 'Country House Lighting' at Temple Newsam House, Leeds, no.44 p.68. The design may derive from the work of Juste Aurele Meissonier.

Historical context note

Chamber candlesticks usually have a short stem and small nozzle, with a handle attached to the drip pan. They are designed to be easily portable to light the user to bed, or around a room. They are frequently found with an integral conical snuffer, or douter.

Descriptive line

Chamber candlestick, silver, London hallmarks for 1744-45, mark of Paul Crespin

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Murdoch, Tessa,Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, under Crespin, Paul
Schroder, Timothy, British and Continental Gold and Silver in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, University of Oxford, Ashmolean Museum 2009,Vol.III, pp.1238-9. ISBN: 978-1-8544-220-B
Coountry House Lighting 1660-1890, Temple Newsam Country House Studies, Number 4, Leeds City Art Galleries and Jessica Rutherford, no.44 p.68.
Sotheby Parke Bernet, London, 24 April 1980

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Fine sculptural detail was a feature of much early Rococo silver, especially that of goldsmiths apprenticed in the London workshops of Huguenot (French Protestant) or German craftsmen. Paul Crespin, the maker of this piece, was a second generation Huguenot but kept abreast of French taste. [27/03/2003]

Materials

Silver

Techniques

Casting; Embossing; Chasing; Engraving (incising)

Subjects depicted

Flowers (plants)

Categories

Lighting; British Galleries; Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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