The Duke of Sussex, a well-known patron of the arts, was elected President of the Society of Arts in 1816, a post which he held for the remainder of his life. He was also President of the Royal Society between 1830 and 1838. The design of these salt cellars was clearly inspired by the work of the 17th century Van Vianen family of silversmiths, probably in part by the Duke’s acquisition (sometime after 1795) of a silver ewer and basin, Christian Van Vianen, Utrecht, 1632, whose original owner was Jan van de Haer (1573-1646) (Sold in the Duke of Sussex sale, Christie’s, London, 22 June 1843, lot 78). Other elements in the salts’ design were selected from further Van Vianen sources, such as the rams’ heads on the stems which bear a remarkable resemblance to those on an Ernst Jansz. Van Vianen tazza of 1602 (Victoria and Albert Museum, museum no. 393-1853). For further comment, see Timothy Schroder, ‘The Duke of Sussex and his collection,’ The Silver Society Journal, no. 14, London, 2002, pp. 40-47.
It is thought that Thomas Burwash, a son of the working silversmith William Burwash, formerly in partnership of Richard Sibley (see Grimwade, 3rd edition, 1990, pp. 455 and 739), conducted his father’s business at 14 Bartholomew Close but briefly, from the time he (Thomas) entered his mark on 10 November 1821 until the firm was wound-up in 1823. The following advertisement in the Morning Advertiser (London, Tuesday, 17 June 1823, p. 4a) suggests this:
‘To Silversmiths and Others. – Superior Working Tools, Patterns, &c. of Mr. Burwash, leaving the Business.
‘By W. DAVIES and SON, ON THE Premises, No. 14, Bartholomew Close, West Smithfield, THIS DAY, June 17th, and the following day, at Eleven, without reserve,
‘ALL the excellent Working Tools, Patterns, Erections of Forges, mahogany four-flap desk, counters, glass cases, nests of drawers, &c.; comprising a most superior collection of patterns of every description, a large quantity of dies, anvils, hammers, &c. a capital draw bench with multiplying wheel and plates, two drop-down stamps, a multiplying polishing wheel and lathe, with cast-iron fly, mandrill and box complete, turning lathes, erection of forges and melting furnaces, forge bellows, several work boards, with leather aprons, fixtures, &c. May be viewed previous, and Catalogues had on the Premises; and of W. Davies and Son, Auctioneers, Giltspur-street.’
Thomas Burwash, who had been apprenticed to his father through the Clothworkers’ Company on 2 March 1808, gained his freedom as a watchmaker on 1 November 1815. Thereafter he probably worked for his uncle, also Thomas, a watch pendant maker at 69 John Street, Clerkenwell (Grimwade, 3rd edition, 1990, p. 739). Following his father, William Burwash’s retirement (see above), it is likely that he went into business on his own account as pawnbroker and silversmith in Bishopsgate Street Without, City of London, where he was declared bankrupt in 1826 (The London Gazette, London, 8 April 1826, p. 830a).
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