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A design for a silver soup tureen
  • A design for a silver soup tureen
    Sir William Chambers, born 1723 - died 1796
  • Enlarge image

A design for a silver soup tureen

  • Place of origin:


  • Date:


  • Artist/Maker:

    Sir William Chambers, born 1723 - died 1796 (designer)
    Yenn, John, born 1750 - died 1832 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil, pen and ink and watercolour on a yellow watercoloured ground on a laid paper, watermarked with a fleur de lys above a bend above L B G.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case A, shelf 229, box E

Physical description

A drawing of a silver soup tureen. Profile. Shown full size 279 x 450 mm.

Place of Origin





Sir William Chambers, born 1723 - died 1796 (designer)
Yenn, John, born 1750 - died 1832 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Pencil, pen and ink and watercolour on a yellow watercoloured ground on a laid paper, watermarked with a fleur de lys above a bend above L B G.


Height: 298 mm, Width: 462 mm

Object history note

A design for a silver soup tureen. The tureen is of bombèe form with a band of tied reeding around the top. The lid is spirally gadrooned with a naturalistically rendered handle in the form of an artichoke or flower. The feet and handles are made from one serpentine oak branch, completed with acorns. Behind the design lie a number of French rococo prototypes including the Berkeley Castle Service by Jacques Roettiers of 1735-38. A tureen to this design was made in 1767-68 marked by John Swift for an unknown client, making it the earliest datable silver design by Chambers whose appearance we know.
In 1771-1772, the design was used for a pair of tureens (marked by Sebastian and James Crespel) for Chamber’s architectural client the Earl of Pembroke, of Pembroke House and Wilton.

The sheet has a ruled pen and ink border, and is probably a preparatory presentation drawing.

Bought together with 72 other drawings from Major H. Bateman via J. Starkie Gardner on the 29th November 1910, for £ 37-0-0.

Chambers was born in Sweden and died in London. He travelled widely, visiting China, and studied architecture at the Ecole des Arts, Paris, from 1749 and in Italy from 1750 to 1755. Many of his drawings from this period are contained in his important 'Franco-Italian' album, held in the V&A. Chambers moved to London in 1755 and published his influential Treatise on Civil Architecture in 1759. Chambers demonstrated the breadth of his style in buildings such as Gower (later Carrington) House and Melbourne House, London, in such country houses as Duddingston, Scotland, and in the garden architecture he designed for Wilton House, Wiltshire, and at Kew Gardens. He became head of government building in 1782, and in this capacity built Somerset House, London.
Chambers also designed furniture and silver. The silver is usually linked to clients for whom he was also designing architectural schemes.
The designs for silver are all in the hand of the architect John Yenn, who was a pupil of Chambers, for whom he became a leading draughtsman, working for him from 1764 until the late 1770s, when he began to practice on his own account.

Descriptive line

A design for a silver soup tureen by John Yenn, after Sir William Chambers, c. 1770

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

‘The silver designs of Sir William Chambers: a resumé and recent discoveries’, The Silver Society Journal, Vol. 7, 1995, pp. 335-341.

‘Sir William Chambers and John Yenn; designs for silver’, Burlington Magazine, Vol. 128, No. 994, January 1986, pp. 31-35, fig 1.

‘Silver, Ormolu and ceramics ‘ in John Harris and Michael Snodin (eds), Sir William Chambers , Architect to George III, 1996, pp. 149-162, fig 213.

‘Sir William Chambers; Catalogues of Architectural Drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum’ Michael Snodin (ed), 1996, cat 853.

Labels and date

John Yenn (1750-1821) after Sir William Chambers (1723-1796)
Design for a tureen
British, about 1767
Pen and ink and watercolour

This design for a tureen combines a smooth neo-classical form with
decorative motifs drawn from a rustic oak. The cover is very
similar to that on the other tureen design by Yenn shown nearby
although the handles are in the form of oak branches with acorns.
The oak and artichoke handle derive from Parisian silver where such
naturalism had been popular since the 1740s or 1750s.

E. 4993-1910 []


Material; Pencil; Grey wash


Technique; Painting

Subjects depicted

Subject; Reeding; Elevation


Designs; Drawings; Metalwork; Silver; Silver Designs; English


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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