Lot 11
  • 11

A pair of George II silver baskets, Paul de Lamerie, London, 1734

400,000 - 600,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Silver
  • 38cm, 15in over handles
rope handles, trellis pattern pierced body, the centre engraved with a coat-of-arms surrounded by scrolling foliage, scratch weights '56=2' and '52=18', fully hallmarked on undersides


William 2nd Earl of Dartmouth and thence by descent
S.J. Phillips Ltd., 1986
Private European Collection


Catalogue Note

The arms are those of Legge with Gunter quartering Nicholl and others in pretence for William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth (1731-1801), second but first surviving son and heir of George Legge, Viscount Lewisham (1705?-1732), and grandson, heir and successor of William Legge, 1st Earl of Dartmouth (1672-1750). He was educated at Westminster School, and Trinity College, Oxford, where he matriculated in 1749, and was married on 11 January 1755 at St. George the Martyr, Queen Square, London, to Frances Gunter (d. 1805), only daughter and heir of Sir Charles Gunter Nicholl KB (d. 1733). According to Mrs Delany, the future Countess of Dartmouth's dowry was in excess of £100,000.

Lord Dartmouth, who began his political career as a Whig before eventually joining Pitt, was First Lord of Trade in 1765-1766, a post he held again between 1772 and 1775; he was also Secretary of State for the American Colonies in the ministry of his half-brother Lord North between 1772 and 1775, at which time Walpole observed that he was 'extremely conscientious and delicate in his honour,' but of whom the historian W.E.H. Lecky (1838-1903) later wrote that he had taken 'a conspicuous but very unfortunate part during the American War,' a reference to the Earl's refusal to confront the colonialists.

In 1755 at the age of 19, five years after he succeeded his grandfather as 2nd Earl, he heard the Methodist speaker George Whitfield at the home of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon. His interest in the new evangelical movement had already been aroused when at Oxford, where he came into contact with the brother theologians and preachers Edward and James Stillingfleet through the Methodist Holy Club. Unfortunately, Dartmouth's enthusiasm for Methodism was not shared by his family or aristocratic friends and it earned him the outright contempt of his uncle, Henry Legge, Chancellor of the Exchequer. At Methodist meetings in the locality of his country seat, Sandwell Hall (demolished 1928), Staffordshire, near Wednesbury and West Bromwich, Lord Dartmouth made it known that he wished to be address simply as 'Brother Earl.' 

Dartmouth was an early advocate for the encouragement of education. He was a generous benefactor, particularly in the establishment of the Indian Charity School at Lebanon, Connecticut, part of whose aim was the conversion to Christianity of native American Indians. In 1769 Reverend Eleazar Wheelock founded Dartmouth College in New Hampshire "for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land ... and also of English Youth and any others." Wheelock named the school, the ninth oldest in the United States, after Dartmouth who was an important supporter of his efforts. While in London Dartmouth supported the philanthropist Thomas Coram's Foundling Hospital, a charitable institution for the care and maintenance of London's abandoned children, of which he was vice president from 1755 until his death. Dartmouth's portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds, part of the Foundling Hospital's celebrated collection of pictures, is still to be seen at the The Foundling Museum, Brunswick Square.

Surviving pairs of baskets by Paul de Lamerie are very rare. Only eight others are known, of which four are in private collections and four are divided between the Ashmolean Museum (two pairs), Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Virginia and the Dallas Museum of Art; only one of these pairs dates from as early as 1734.[1]

[1] The eight other known pairs in addition to the present example are as follows:
I.  A pair of silver baskets, Paul de Lamerie, London, 1734, engraved with the arms of Guise with those of Saunders in pretence (Christie's, London, 27 November 1991, lot 106, sold for £572,000)
II. A pair of silver baskets, Paul de Lamerie, London, 1736, engraved with the arms of Mildmay quartering Fitzwalter with Schomberg in pretence (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, WA1946.106. 1 and 2).
III. A pair of silver baskets, Paul de Lamerie, London, 1737, engraved with the arms of John, 4th Duke of Bedford (1710-1771) and his second wife Gertrude Leveson-Gower (Woburn Abbey)
IV. An associated pair of silver baskets, Paul de Lamerie, London, 1737 and 1740, engraved with the arms of Townshend (Christie's, New York, 16 April 2004, lots 126 & 127, sold for $590,000)
V. A pair of silver baskets, Paul de Lamerie, London, 1738, engraved with the arms of Yorke for Sir Joseph Yorke (1724-92) 1st Baron Dover (Private Collection)
VI. A pair of silver baskets, Paul de Lamerie, London, 1739, engraved with the arms of Cote impaling Newport, as borne by Algernon Coote, 6th Earl of Mountrath (1689-1744), (Dallas Museum of Art, 1987.185.2)
VII. A pair of silver baskets, Paul de Lamerie, London, 1744, (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, WA1946.122. 1 and 2)
VIII. A pair of silver-gilt baskets, Paul de Lamerie, London, 1747, engraved with the arms of Sneyd for Ralf Sneyd (1723-1793), (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Virginia, 1938-45,1)