Exceptional Silver Tea Caddy Heads to Auction at Freeman’s
A Dutch silver tea caddy designed and modeled after a 17th century French armoire in the Musée du Louvre will be offered in Freeman's upcoming auction of Silver & Objets de Vertu. The original armoire à deux corps, currently on display in the Richelieu wing of the iconic museum (pictured at right), presents a bit of a mystery regarding the cabinet's precise provenance. Accquired by the Louvre in 1828, it's engravings reflect conflicting regional styles. With elements indicative of both the Prague school and the artists of eastern France, the cabinet proved a exceptional source of inspiration for the silversmiths who created the tea caddy being offered in December's sale.
The form of the silver tea caddy being offered in December's auction (pictured below) is quite characteristic of French armoires of the Renaissance and early 17th century, and is in two sections each with two doors. Each door bears carved (on the silver miniature repoussed) plaques depicting various scenes after engravings by the Flemish artists Bartolomeus Spranger and Marten de Vos. The left side door is representative of Bellonius guiding the troops to victory over the Turks, while the right side door is after the Triumph of Wisdom over Ignorance by the Antwerp engraver Aegidius Sadeler. The panels on the lower section each depict a planet and a virtue, often understood as a tribute to the wisdom and strength of power.
The silver armoire à deux corps at hand is struck with six hallmarks to the underside of the lower section: a date letter H probably for 1817, a post 1814 guarantee mark with the number 2 for .833 silver standard overstruck with post 1853 export key mark. Also found is the city mark for Amsterdam, a rubbed maker's mark, and two unidentified marks, all of which may have been struck earlier. The upper section is stamped with mark of Minerva's head to reverse and scratch number to underside.
This piece, along with the rest of the catalogue of lots to be offered in December's Silver & Objets de Vertu auction are now available to view online. Exhibition for this sale will open to the public on Thursday, 11 December.
This piece sold for $6,875 in the 16 December 2014 auction of Silver & Objets de Vertu.