Metalwork Design thumbnail 1
Metalwork Design thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E , Case W, Shelf 106, Box A

Metalwork Design


A drawing of a silver salt cellar and two spoons.
The spoons shown full size 108 (Left) 102 (Right), the salt less than full size.

Object details

Object type
Materials and techniques
Pencil, pen and black ink, brown wash on laid paper.
Brief description
A design for a silver salt cellar and two spoons by Nicholas Sprimont (1716- 1771), circa 1742
Physical description
A drawing of a silver salt cellar and two spoons.
The spoons shown full size 108 (Left) 102 (Right), the salt less than full size.
  • Height: 151mm
  • Width: 193mm
Object history
Sketch design for a salt cellar and two salt spoons. The round bowl of the salt cellar supported by two (visible) dolphins, the tails of which rise to its rim and hold up a falling garland of sea shells and coral. The design includes a coral stemmed spoon of the type shown in detail on the sheet. The base of the bowl encrusted with rock or shell work. The salt spoon to the right of the cellar has a stem formed as a stick of coral and a shell shaped bowl. The spoon to the left of the cellar as a different shell shaped bowl and a stem terminating with an open cartouche. A pencil line at the bottom of the salt cellar has been added later. Because of its provenance, the drawing has been attributed to Matthias Lock, but the hand is not his and appears to be that of Sprimont. It is closely related to the centrepiece of the Marine Service of Frederick Prince of Wales, made by Paul Crespin in 1741-2 and its salts made by Sprimont 1742- 3 (RCIN 50282, RCIN 51393, RCIN 51392). Not only is the general arrangement of the bowl, with its shell encrusted base and supporting dolphins similar to the centrepiece, but the coral- stemmed spoons are identical to one of the types shown here were provided with Sprimont’s salts. This design probably represents a project by Sprimont for the service. In the event the executed salts were formed as shells, crabs and crayfish set on rocky bases (Grimwade 1974, pl. 37b, 48). The presence of this design in the collection of drawings descended from Matthias Lock, a pioneer of the rococo style in English wood carving, raises the possibility of interesting connections. According to his wife Sprimont showed ‘superior skill in the arts of drawing, modelling and painting…’ Nicholas Sprimont was a silversmith and porcelain manufacturer. He arrived in London by November 1742, when he married Ann Protin of Kensington. He registered his mark at Goldsmiths’ Hall in January 1743. He is recorded as the manager of the Chelsea China manufacturing in 1749. A number of other Chelsea pieces are also derived from Sprimont’s silver. At least thirty-six pieces of Sprimont silver are recorder, the dated examples of which fall between hallmark years 1742 (i.e. up to May 1743) and 1747, and five other pieces have been attributed to him. Sprimont’s style appears to be directly inspired by French rococo Silver (E.G. Thomas Germain), although the precise forms of some pieces are difficult to parallel, chiefly because of Sprimont’s use of sculptural elements, including figures (as on the sauce boats of the marine service) which are more lively in modelling than those on any English silver up to the 19th century. It may be significant that he stood godfather to the daughter of the sculptor L.F. Roubiliac in 1744.Sprimot’s Silver is different in style from the common Liege silver of the period, and there are few comparable pieces in English silver, with the notable exception of the work of Paul Crespin, A Huguenot born in England who also live in Compton Street. Only one drawing by Sprimont is recorded outside the Museum: a signed design for a cruet dish (Society of Antiquaries of London MS 263, see A. Esdaile, “A Signed Drawing by Sprimont”, Apollo, XXXIX, (1944), p 134) , which appears in silver as a cruet frame and also in the form of porcelain dishes. Prov: Bought on the 16November 1862 together with a collection of drawings by Thomas Chippendale, Matthias Lock and others, from of George Lock of Edinburgh, grandson of Mathias Lock (Peter Ward- Jackson, English Furniture Designs of the Eighteenth Century, 1958, page 39).
Bibliographic reference
Victoria and Albert Museum, Rococo. Art and Design in Hogarth’s England, 1984, cat. E4, G16- 19; 0 3-8 A. G. Grimwade, Rococo Silver, 1974 Hilary Young, English Porcelain 1745-95, 1999.
Accession number

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Record createdJune 30, 2009
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