Lot 537
  • 537

Elkington and Co. An English seven-piece parcel-gilt electroplate, enamel and cut-glass 'Pompeian' table garniture, circa 1862

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  • candelabra 62.5cm., 24½in. high
designed by Albert Willms, comprising a centrepiece, a pair of four-light candelabra, a pair of tazze, and a pair of wine coolers on circular tripod paw foot bases, the centrepiece featuring allegorical figures of Agriculture and Commerce and a priestess of the Temple of Peace, the candelabra with detachable central nozzles and three branches, the wine coolers with classical figure panels and detachable liners, all flanked by scrolled guilloche supports, the centrepiece and tazze surmounted by contemporary cut-glass bowls, the wine coolers with Patent Office Design Registry marks for November 1862, the others with oval badges embossed Published by Elkington & Co., further marked 498 on the candelabra and 753 on the tazze


Associated Literature
The Illustrated Catalogue of the International Exhibition 1862, London, 1862, vol. 2, class XXXIII, pp. 7-8
John Burley Waring, Masterpieces of Industrial Art and Sculpture at the International Exhibition 1862, London, 1863, vol. 3, pl. 211
Patricia Wardle, Victorian Silver and Silver-Plate, London, 1963, fig. 11
Shirley Bury, Victorian Electroplate, Feltham, 1971, pp. 39-42

Catalogue Note

This garniture is a production version of Elkington's 'Graeco-Pompeian' dessert service, shown to considerable acclaim at the International Exhibition of 1862. Designed by Albert Willms, the original comprised thirteen pieces of enamelled and parcel-gilt silver and was valued at the substantial price of £1,400.

Willms trained in Paris with the celebrated French sculptor Jean-Baptiste-Jules Klagmann, whose commissions included the Medici Fountain in the Luxembourg Gardens and the statues for the façade of the Bibliothèque Nationale as well as the Ross Fountain beneath Edinburgh Castle. Klagmann also commanded tremendous prices for his silver designs, and it was to one of Klagmann's London clients, the French émigré silversmiths Morel & Co., that the young Willms decamped during the Paris revolts of 1848. There he assisted Jean-Valentin Morel in preparing for the the Great Exhibition of 1851. Willms returned to France in time to contribute to the Christofle, Paillard, and Froment-Meurice displays for the Paris Exhibition of 1855. On his now-considerable reputation, Willms was then hired by Elkington & Co. to create a service for the Duke of Brabant, and, from 1857, to direct the company's designs.

Elkington & Co. pioneered the electroplating process, acquiring the patent shortly after its invention in 1838. They licensed the technique to other houses, including Christofle in France, but were the principal promulgators at the time of the 1862 Exhibition. This process, and the revenue it generated, enabled the company to hire the finest Continental designers and to expend considerable time and materials on the creation of lavish exhibition works.

One of a number of Willms's entries from 1862, the Pompeian service proved among the most popular and contributed heavily to his winning an Exhibition medal. While Elkington & Co. directors were among the jurors at the Exhibition, and thus ineligible for company prizes, the jury nevertheless singled out the firm for "great merit in designing a dessert service... in excellent taste, and the effect is very beautiful" (Reports by the Juries on the Subjects in the Thirty-six Classes Into Which the Exhibition was Divided, London, 1863, Class XXXIII, p. 4).