Sauce Boat thumbnail 1
Sauce Boat thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 53a

Sauce Boat

ca. 1745 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Object Type
As a vessel for serving sauce, the sauce boat came to Britain from the French Court in the early 18th century as a consequence of the new fashion for Continental-style sauces. An early pair was supplied by the Jewel Office (a state department storing, lending and buying silver for officials) to John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll, in 1719. The first sauce boats were double-lipped, but forms that poured from one lip only became more popular after 1730. Sauce boats were often sold with stands and ladles in sets of four, although one of the largest and grandest services, made in 1745-47 for James Fitzgerald, 20th Earl (later Duke) of Leinster (died 1773), contained ten.

People
This sauce boat is thought to have been made by the silversmith Nicholas Sprimont (1716-1771). This attribution is based on a fully marked example with its original stand in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Sprimont probably trained in the family silversmithing business in Liège, but was working in England by 1742. His marked silver dates from 1743-1747. Sprimont's second career, that of a porcelain manufacturer, began around 1745, and some of his designs for silver influenced the shapes and styles of porcelain made at the Chelsea porcelain factory in its early years.

Time
The fashion for shellwork and marine forms seen in this sauce boat is typical of the Rococo style, which lasted from the 1730s to the 1760s. Sprimont, was a highly competent designer, draughtsman and modeller who probably had access to continental Rococo design through his background and training as well as through his association with artists of the St Martin's Lane Academy in London, such as the painter and printmaker William Hogarth (1697-1762) and the immigrant sculptor Louis-François Roubiliac (1705-1762), who played an important role in introducing the Rococo style to Britain.

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read The Chelsea porcelain factory Though only produced for a short time, Chelsea porcelain was coveted by the wealthiest people in 18th-century society, from royalty to elite collectors. The V&A holds a world-leading collection of Chelsea porcelain, revered for its inventiveness and quality, including some unique and outst...

Object details

Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Silver, with cast and relief work
Brief description
Silver sauceboat, English, 18th century
Physical description
Conch shell shape consisting of alternate plain and decorative fluted panels. The foot is in the form of two shells, one of which is slightly domed to elevate the sauceboat and decorated in a similar fashion to the main body. The ear-shaped scroll handle, which splits into two parts at the rim, is entwined with a serpent whose head protrudes beyond the edge of the sauceboat. The decorative fluting on body and foot consists of a variety of miniature shells and seaweed in relief upon a rocky background. A stylised seaweed motif borders the lip and rim of the sauceboat.
Dimensions
  • Height: 17.3cm
  • Width: 21.4cm
  • Depth: 9.9cm
  • Weight: 673.6g
  • Weight: 21.66troy
Dimensions checked: Registered Description; 01/01/1998 by KN
Marks and inscriptions
  • '22"18' (Textual information; English; on base; incised)
  • Engraved with two unidentified crests
Gallery label
  • One of a series of vessels based on a shell and other marine forms for which Nicholas Sprimont was particularly noted. A fully marked example with its original stand consisting of two conjoined scallop shells is in the Boston Museum of Fine Art (Katz Collection). The design for these were adapted by Sprimont for use by the Chelsea Porcelain Manufactory.
  • British Galleries: This sauce boat was probably made by Nicholas Sprimont at about the time he was withdrawing from the silver trade and founding the Chelsea factory. Some sauce boats of this pattern have stands similar to the adjacent one of Chelsea porcelain.(27/03/2003)
Object history
Probably designed and made in Compton Street, Soho, London by Nicholas Sprimont (baptised in Liège, Belgium, 1716, died in London, 1771)
Summary
Object Type
As a vessel for serving sauce, the sauce boat came to Britain from the French Court in the early 18th century as a consequence of the new fashion for Continental-style sauces. An early pair was supplied by the Jewel Office (a state department storing, lending and buying silver for officials) to John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll, in 1719. The first sauce boats were double-lipped, but forms that poured from one lip only became more popular after 1730. Sauce boats were often sold with stands and ladles in sets of four, although one of the largest and grandest services, made in 1745-47 for James Fitzgerald, 20th Earl (later Duke) of Leinster (died 1773), contained ten.

People
This sauce boat is thought to have been made by the silversmith Nicholas Sprimont (1716-1771). This attribution is based on a fully marked example with its original stand in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Sprimont probably trained in the family silversmithing business in Liège, but was working in England by 1742. His marked silver dates from 1743-1747. Sprimont's second career, that of a porcelain manufacturer, began around 1745, and some of his designs for silver influenced the shapes and styles of porcelain made at the Chelsea porcelain factory in its early years.

Time
The fashion for shellwork and marine forms seen in this sauce boat is typical of the Rococo style, which lasted from the 1730s to the 1760s. Sprimont, was a highly competent designer, draughtsman and modeller who probably had access to continental Rococo design through his background and training as well as through his association with artists of the St Martin's Lane Academy in London, such as the painter and printmaker William Hogarth (1697-1762) and the immigrant sculptor Louis-François Roubiliac (1705-1762), who played an important role in introducing the Rococo style to Britain.
Bibliographic references
  • Alison Fitzgerald, Silver in Georgian Dublin, Making, Selling, Consuming, Routledge, Abingdon, 2017, illustrated Figure 1.20
  • Snodin, Michael (ed.), Rococo : art and design in Hogarth's England, London : Trefoil Books, 1984 no. G19
Collection
Accession number
M.41-1993

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Record createdJune 1, 1998
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