Salt Cellar thumbnail 1
Salt Cellar thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 118a

Salt Cellar

ca. 1600 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
Salt was a precious commodity in the 16th century and salts cellars for use at the table were often elaborately decorated. As salt was derived from the sea, seashells and dolphins were thought to be appropriate decorative elements.

People
Horace Walpole, the 4th Earl of Orford, was renowned for his antiquarian interest and his collection of antiques which he partly amassed himself during his trips abroad. In the Great North Bedchamber of his house, Strawberry Hill, Walpole kept a collection of china, snuff boxes and curios. The guide book to the house of 1774 describes 'A salt cellar of the finest old fayence [tin-glazed earthenware] supported by dolphins'. Walpole's salt, which was sold with the contents of the house in 1843, fits the description of this piece which was acquired by the Museum in 1863, but it is not certain that it is the very same object.

Materials & Making
Tin-glazed earthenware, which could be painted in many different bright colours, was known in Italy as 'maiolica'. Urbino was a famous centre for the manufacture of maiolica. This salt cellar was made with the aid of moulds, which made it possible to shape series of objects relatively cheaply.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Maiolica (tin-glazed earthenware)
Brief Description
C
Dimensions
  • Height: 16.4cm
Gallery Label
British Galleries: In the Great North Bedchamber at Strawberry Hill, Walpole kept a collection of china, snuff boxes and curios. In 1784, the guide book to the house described this piece as 'A salt cellar of the finest old fayence [tin-glazed earthenware] supported by dolphins'.(27/03/2003)
Summary
Object Type
Salt was a precious commodity in the 16th century and salts cellars for use at the table were often elaborately decorated. As salt was derived from the sea, seashells and dolphins were thought to be appropriate decorative elements.

People
Horace Walpole, the 4th Earl of Orford, was renowned for his antiquarian interest and his collection of antiques which he partly amassed himself during his trips abroad. In the Great North Bedchamber of his house, Strawberry Hill, Walpole kept a collection of china, snuff boxes and curios. The guide book to the house of 1774 describes 'A salt cellar of the finest old fayence [tin-glazed earthenware] supported by dolphins'. Walpole's salt, which was sold with the contents of the house in 1843, fits the description of this piece which was acquired by the Museum in 1863, but it is not certain that it is the very same object.

Materials & Making
Tin-glazed earthenware, which could be painted in many different bright colours, was known in Italy as 'maiolica'. Urbino was a famous centre for the manufacture of maiolica. This salt cellar was made with the aid of moulds, which made it possible to shape series of objects relatively cheaply.
Collection
Accession Number
8402-1863

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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