Paul de Laremie, c. 1731
This and all related images from
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This silver basket was inherited by the great grandson of Sir Robert Walpole—the first prime minister of Great Britain. Sir Robert had a great appreciation for silver and was one of the earliest patrons of the Huguenot silver smith Paul de Lamerie (1688-1751), the maker of this piece.
The Huguenots (French Protestants) had no choice but to leave France after Catholic King Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685. This edict had allowed a degree of religious tolerance in France, but after it was revoked, non-Catholics were in a sticky situation.
Many of the Huguenots, like de Lamerie, were skilled craftsmen. A large portion of them settled in London where they found a ready market eager to snatch up their wares—mostly luxury items, silver, furniture, jewelry, watches and such. These items also had the appeal of a distinctly French style.
A silver, two-handled oval basket, it sits on a rim foot of pieced ornament. The sides are pierced and chased in a simulation of woven basketwork. The basket’s handles are fashioned as twined rope-work. A coat of arms is engraved on the interior. De Laremie made this basket between 1731 and 1732.
It’s now part of the Gilbert Collection at the V&A.