Paul Crespin (1694-1770) was one of the most talented London Huguenots silversmiths of the second generation in 18th century London. Born there of French refugee parents, he was apprentice to Jean Pons of St James's, Westminster, and entered his first marks between July 1720 and December 1721. He established a workshop in Old Compton Street, at the Golden Ball, Soho. His high quality pieces attracted a number of English clients like Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford , and the first Duke of Portland. Through the latter's influence, Crespin's son Elias David was educated at Cambridge University (see Arthur Grimwade, London Goldsmiths 1697-1837, p. 478).
These sauce boats are identical to another pair made by Nicholas Sprimont now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1970.639). There is also an identical, unmarked pair attributed to Sprimont in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (M.41-1993).
Sprimont (1716-1771) was born and apprenticed in Liege. He then moved to London and entered his mark on 25 January 1723 from premise in Compton Street and was there a near neighbour of Paul Crespin. The two Huguenot silversmiths worked together on the magnificent 'Neptune' silver-gilt soup tureen commissioned by Frederic Prince of Wales in 1741, now in the royal collection, Buckingham Palace. Little is known about Sprimont and Crespin's working relationship; even though they were not business partners, the stylistic similarities are striking. The naturalistic shells and marine life bandings on the sauceboats are typical of Sprimont's decorative vocabulary. On the other hand, in 1747 Sprimont created the Ashburham silver centrepiece, now in the Victoria & Albert museum, which strongly echoes Crespin's masterpiece, the silver centrepiece made for Charles, 6th Duke of Somerset in 1740-1741 (Toledo Museum, Ohio). Indeed, the relationship between the Ashburnham and the Somerset centrepieces has been much debated by scholars. Soon afterwards, Sprimont founded the first English soft-paste porcelain manufacture in Chelsea in 1748.
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