Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Pilgrim bottle

Pilgrim bottle

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)
    London (engraved)

  • Date:

    ca. 1710 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Platel, Pierre (maker)
    Platel, Pierre (engraver (inciser))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Britannia standard silver, cast, chased, with applied cut card ornament and engraved with coats of arms of respective owners

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by C. D. Rotch

  • Museum number:

    M.854&:2-1927

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 54, case 9 []

Object Type
Although shaped as a pilgrim bottle, this was probably intended for display on the sideboard rather than for use. The medieval prototype was considerably smaller and the larger silver version, such as this one, was introduced to Britain by Huguenot goldsmiths. The design is carefully conceived and the high quality of the workmanship shows English silversmithing at its best.

People
The maker of this bottle, Pierre Platel, was born in Lille in 1664 and arrived in England, along with his brother, in 1688. He could have been one of the many refugees driven from their homes after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, which saw the end of religious tolerance for French Protestants. In 1699 he set up a shop in Pall Mall, London, and was officially recorded as a 'largeworker', a maker of large pieces of silver.

John Churchill, Ist Duke of Marlborough, inherited the bottle after his brother's death in 1714.

Materials &Making
A number of different techniques have been employed in the construction and decoration of the bottle. The lower part of the body is boldly chased with strapwork in relief. On the neck, fluting descends from palm leaves of cut-card work. On either side is a mask of a female surrounded by acanthus foliage. The masks were cast in a sand mould and then finely chased. The chain (which may originally have been used for carrying the bottle) is attached above the masks and also to the top, which has a screw fitting.

Physical description

Pear-shaped pilgrim-bottle of Britannia standard silver, with stopper and chain. Different techniques have been employed in the construction and decoration of the bottle, including sand-casting, moulding, chasing and cut-card work. The body is boldly chased, with strapwork in relief round the lower part and fluting on the neck issuing from palm-leaves of cut-card work. On either side is a finely chased, sand-cast mask of a female, surrounded by acanthus foliage. The chain (which may originally have been used for carrying the bottle) is attached to the top of these and also to the top, which has a screw fitting. The base is oval with raised moulding and cast gadrooning.

Place of Origin

London (made)
London (engraved)

Date

ca. 1710 (made)

Artist/maker

Platel, Pierre (maker)
Platel, Pierre (engraver (inciser))

Materials and Techniques

Britannia standard silver, cast, chased, with applied cut card ornament and engraved with coats of arms of respective owners

Marks and inscriptions

Engraved with the arms of General Charles Churchill (1656-1714), and later those of his brother John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough (born in Ashe, Devon, 1650 and died at Windsor, 1722)

Dimensions

Height: 41 cm maximum, Width: 22.5 cm, Depth: 13 cm, Diameter: 11.5 cm foot, Weight: 3.75 kg

Object history note

Made and engraved in London by Pierre Platel (born in Lille, France, about 1664, died in London, 1719)

Historical context note

This spectacular silver pilgrim bottle may have been inspired by the pair of Paris-made silver pilgrim bottles given to John Churchill, later 1st Duke of Marlborough by Louis XIV in the 1670s which were displayed on the Dining Room Buffet at Marlborough House, St James's. Given that Pierre Platel's workshop was close by in Pall Mall it is likely that General Charles Churchill was inspired by the display of silver at his brother's great London house in commissioning this example.

This bottle was probably intended for display rather than use, although it is shaped like smaller wine bottles used by Medieval travellers or pilgrims in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. The idea of a larger silver version of the form was developed in London by Huguenot (French Protestant) goldsmiths. The medieval prototype was considerably smaller, and the larger silver version (which could be up to 21 inches tall and weigh 250 ounces) was introduced to Britain by the Huguenot goldsmiths . It is a carefully conceived design and the high quality of the workmanship is typical of the best period of later English silversmithing - the end of the 17th and the earlier years of the 18th century. It clearly conveyed the status of the original owners, General Charles Churchill (1656-1714) and his wife, Mary Gould (they married in 1702), whose conjoined coat of arms are engraved on one side. After General Churchill's death in 1714, it passed to his more famous brother, John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, whose arms were later engraved on the other side. Though there are no hallmarks or date-letters we can assume that it was made sometime between 1702 and 1714.

Descriptive line

A bottle with applied masks on either shoulder with loops for the suspension chain engraved with a different version of the Churchill coat of arms on each side

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

V&A Catalogue, 1965, Pl. 107; Exhibited in 'Design in the Service of Wine', Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York, 4th June - 13th October 1985.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This bottle was probably intended for display rather than use, although it is shaped like smaller wine bottles used by Medieval travellers or pilgrims. The idea of a larger silver version of the form was introduced to Britain by Huguenot (French Protestant) goldsmiths. It clearly conveyed the status of the original owners, General Charles Churchill (1656-1714) and his wife, Mary Gould, whose arms are engraved on one side. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

Made and engraved in London by Pierre Platel

Materials

Silver

Techniques

Cast; Chased; Engraving; Technique

Categories

Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.