- Place of origin:
Lille, France (made)
Elie Pacot, born 1657 - died 1721 (maker)
- Materials and Techniques:
- Credit Line:
Purchased with the assistance of The National Heritage Memorial Fund, The Art Fund, Old Possum's Practical Trust; the Broadley Charitable Trust in memory of Roy Tiley; the Charlotte Bonham-Carter Trust, and the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of the Paul and Elissa Cahn Foundation and the Audrey Love Charitable Foundation; donations from Simon and Cathlyn Davidson, and an anonymous donor on behalf of Lola and Gigi Griffith, and further contributions from individuals including the Silver Society and V&A Members
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
Silver, room 69, case 22
A basin and ewer made by Elie Pacot in Lille in 1711-12 for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough for display on the sideboard in his dining room at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire and Marlborough House, London. The pieces were subsequently engraved with the coat of arms of Scroop Egerton, 1st Duke of Bridgewater, when they were inherited from the estate of Sarah Churchill, widow of the 1st Duke of Marlborough, in 1744.
A shaped circular silver basin with cast and applied rim with shells and scrolls on a matted ground centering on six classical portrait medallions, and another with the seated figure of Minerva, Goddess of War. One of the six bust of Minerva with a helmet decorated with Pegasus, representing her role as Patroness of the Arts. The centre of the basin is engraved with a baroque cartouche incorporating putti, eagles, husk festoons, laurel sprays and scrolling foliage containing a slightly later coat-of-arms beneath a duke's coronet, with a trophy of arms including banners with the Royal cypher AR for Anna Regina (Queen Anne) who reigned from 1702 to 1714.
Place of Origin
Lille, France (made)
Elie Pacot, born 1657 - died 1721 (maker)
Materials and Techniques
Marks and inscriptions
Mark of Elie Pacot (1657-1721)
fleur-de-lys town mark for Lille used between 1709 and 1714
date letter D for 1711-12
earlier town mark for Lille (L with trefoi) used in the 17th century and after Lille ceded to the Netherlands in 1714
Diameter: 29 in, Weight: 7486 g
Object history note
Anonymous Loan, acquired by private treaty sale through Christie's London in 2006-7 with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, The Art Fund, Old Possum's Practical Trust; the Broadley Charitable Trust in memory of Roy Tiley; the Charlotte Bonham-Carter Trust, and the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of the Paul and Elissa Cahn Foundation and the Audrey Love Charitable Foundation; donations from Simon and Cathlyn Davidson, A.H. and B.C. Whiteley and family and an anonymous donor on behalf of Lola and Gigi Griffith, and further contributions from individuals including the Silver Society and V&A Members.
Historical significance: This presentation silver was made for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, one of Britain's greatest military leaders. It provides fascinating evidence for the importance of silver as a status symbol. This ewer and basin are a rare example of leading British patronage of French regional silver in the early 18th century. The goldsmith, Elie Pacot of Lille, worked for other foreign patrons and may also have supplied Marlborough with an elaborate centrepiece for the dining room table as well as a set of silver candlesticks. The ewer and basin formed part of the sideboard display in the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough's dining rooms at their London home Marlborough House and at their country palace Blenheim, Oxfordshire.
Historical context note
Made for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough in Lille with matching ewer (see M.5-2007) for display on the side board in the dining room of Marlborough House, London and Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
Nicole and Isabelle Cartier,'The Elie Pacot Surtout',The SIlver Society Journal, Winter, 1994, No.6, p.298
Arthur Grimwade,'The Master of George Vertue, His Identity and Oeuvre', Apollo, February, 1988, pp.88-9. ill. fig.13
Nicole Cartier, Les Orfevres de Lille, 2006, II, pp.546-548
Murdoch, Tessa, 'Ducal splendour: silver for a military hero. The Elie Pacot ewer and basin made for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough' in Silver Studies: The journal of the Silver Society no.22 (2007)
European Silver Galleries (Victoria and Albert Museum 01/01/1996-31/12/2002)
Permanent Display (The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle 01/01/1976-31/12/1995)
Labels and date
The acquisition of all things French, from manners and forms of speech to clothes, silver, paintings and even chefs was a common feature of the 18th-century English aristocracy. This magnificent French ewer and basin is engraved with the arms of Scroop Egerton, 1st Duke of Bridgewater impaling those of his second wife Rachel Russell, daughter of the 2nd Duke of Bedford. It was originally made for John Churchill, the great 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722). Minute traces of Marlborough's arms can be seen beneath those of Bridgewater, evidence that the coat-of-arms on the basin were re-engraved when the pieces were acquired by Bridgewater from the estate of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough. Bridgewater's first wife Elizabeth, was the 1st Duke of Marlborough's third and favourite daughter, who died of smallpox in 1714.
The engraving is of exceptionally high quality and although formerly thought to be the work of the Frenchman Blaise Gentot who had worked in London in the late 17th century it is now attributed to Nicholas Garlette of Lille. The ewer and basinboth bear the marks of Lille goldsmith Elie Pacot. The basin also bears the town marks for Lille and the date letter for 1711-12.
Marlborough evidently knew Élie Pacot personally. In 1708 Marlborough besieged Lille which was then occupied by the British until 1714. Marlborough often stayed there and in 1712 personally intervened on Pacot's behalf with the town magistrate over a dispute over the professional status of Pacot's goldsmith son-in-law Pierre Tiron. It is probable that the Duke of Marlborough commissioned the ewer and basin directly from Pacot who sub-contracted the making of the ewer to the Brussels goldsmith.
The border of the dish is enriched with shells, foliage and classical busts in the style of Louis XIV's court designer Jean Berain. Its scalloped edge made a striking addition to the display on the dining room sideboard. The elaborate engraved cartouche on the basin includes a trophy of arms with weapons, drums and trumpets with banners bearing the cypher AR for Queen Anne, an appropriate feature for a national military hero. The vigorously modelled figurative handle of the ewer also attracted attention. The 'helmet' shape of the ewer is characteristic of later 17th century French silver and ceramics. The sculptural decoration is typical of French silver of this period. [26/11/2002]
Siege of Lille, 1708
Elie Pacot (1657-1721)
Cast; Engraved; Raised