A Fine George II Chinoiserie Tea Caddy of Large Size

William Cripps
15cm high, 10cm wide, 8cm deep
14 oz

Of upright rectangular form embossed and chased in high relief with two scenes. The front and back with a central Chinese male figure apparently pointing to the base of a a coconut palm on the right side and with further flowers leaves and scrolls all around. The background matted and with a waterfall to the left side, the lowest part of which is chased with a lion's head and with water pouring from its mouth. All flanked by two large "c" scrolls. one capped by a monkey beneath 2 further "C" scrolls, the other with an eagle perched amidst similar scrolls. The corners with shells and panels of diaper work. The side panels also with 2 large "C" scrolls enclosing a building to the left and a large coconut palm to the right, all on a matted ground and with flowers, leaves, shells and scrolls all around. The lower part with water spilling over into a shell. The lid with cast rose and leaf finial.


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This caddy bears a close resemblance to those made by Paul De Lamerie. This is not entirely coincidental as Christopher Hartop, in his admirable book entitled " The Huguenot Legacy: English Silver 1680-1760 from the Alan and Simone Hartman Collection", has investigated Cripps as being a member of the "Lamerie Group". This "Group" included Philips Garden and Henry Hayens all of whose work bore close similarities to that by De Lamerie. It is known that Cripps supplied work to Garden and Hartop suggests the possibility that Garden was not only a retailer ( rather than a working silversmith) but also it might have been Cripps that Purchased De Lamerie's tools, after the latter's death, rather than Garden. A remarkable rococo punch bowl and cover of 1752 by Cripps bought by Alastair Dickenson, whilst head of Antique Silver at Asprey, shows identical features to a Cup and Cover by De Lamerie in the Sterling and Francine Clarke Art Institute dated 1742.

A pair of tea caddies with the same scene were sold by Sothebys, 23rd May 1985, lot 91 and made by an unidentified silversmith F.C in 1764. The somewhat unusual initials were probably for Francis Crump.

Cripps was apprenticed to David Willaume so it is not surprising that his output bore the high standards set by his master. Willaume was a Huguenot who was apprenticed to his father and went on to become Subordinate Goldsmith to George II. Whilst the fashion for all things rococo rapidly expanded after 1730 it was a little later that the interest in Chinese designs re-emerged following the publicatin of "Description of the Empire of China" by Jean-Baptiste Du Halde in 1736. From then onwards till the 1760's there was a beguiling mixture of the two genres. The Cripps caddy exactly displays this blend and is a delightful creation in the hands of a very talented silversmith.