Pair of Victorian Compotes By Hunt & Roskell, Late, Storr, & Mortimer in Gilt Sterling Silver
1 Pair of Master Crafted Tablescape Compotes (ca. 1862) in 91.6% Silver by celebrated London Silversmiths, Hunt, Roskell, Late, Storr, & Mortimer (Jewellers, Goldsmiths & Silversmiths to the Queen)
This magnificent and highly important pair of antique, 19th century Victorian sterling silver figural compotes / tazza portray the sweet theme of happy children playing outside, enjoying the weather… ostensibly representing the estival and hibernal seasons, masterfully combining elements of Neoclassicism & Rococo with a finely designed and meticulously naturalistic form.
One depicts a boy ice-skating, signifying wintertime, and the other, a girl filling a basket with freshly picked berries signifying summertime. Each playful figure is cast under a grape-vine arbor shaped to hold a glass dish (not available) and raised on a decorative foundation continuing with the bountiful, Dionysian/Bacchanalian motif of grapes and grape leaves. A suggestion of eternal bounty should be noted with the presence of the fertile grape-vines even as the boy ice skates in the cold.
Each piece is fully Hallmarked (see photos) English Silver (left facing Lion Passant-925 standard), crowned ISH (John Samuel Hunt used this stamp between 1842-1865) and a hallmark for the year we believe to be 1862--this stamp appears to be a lower case block “s” or “g”, but “s” is incongruent with the crowned ISH maker's mark because John Samuel Hunt died in 1865 and the "s" stamp was used for "1873", leaving only “g” or 1862 under the London standard. Each base is further stamped with the retailer's mark "HUNT & ROSKELL, LATE STORR & MORTIMER", serial number 3721.
There are 3 additional hallmarks establishing a Russian connection to these compotes. – first, the number “88”, next, the official crest for the city of St. Petersburg (2 anchors crossing a scepter), and finally, the Cyrillic letters “П Т” (meaning привозых товдров, or “Imported Goods”).
The Symbolism Of Grapes
The act of eating and drinking has always borne great symbolism in the arts, and arguably, grapes are chief among all of these symbolic foods, with early development in the ancient world of Dionysus (Bacchus in the Roman tradition,) the god of wine, grape harvest, fertility, pleasure, festivity, madness, and wild frenzy. The symbolic themes of joy, bounty, playfulness, indulgence, & reduced inhibitions, palpable in these centerpieces, make them the perfect complement to a table-scape for even the most ornate and/or festive of dinner party.
Alexandrina Victoria, from Hanover, Germany, became queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1837. During her reign the country had turned into a leading industrial power and English society was actively interested in its history, as artists, architects and masters of arts and crafts revived the styles of the past. One such style was the Fête galante - an important part of the rococo period of art, which saw the focus of European arts move away from the hierarchical, standardized grandeur of the church and royal court and toward an appreciation for intimacy and personal pleasures.
The Russian Connection
First, the number 88-- The Russian standard for silver was based on ' zolotnik '. Converting the Russian marks to sterling values, we obtain the following comparisons in silver purity degree:
84 zol. = 875/1000
88 zol. = 916,6/1000
91 zol. = 947,9/1000
The second and third Russian hallmarks together tells us the compotes were imported into St. Petersburg between 1882-1898. Hunt and Roskell were favorite suppliers to the Imperial Russian Court.
In addition to placing its own orders with the Hunt & Roskell firm, the Russian Imperial family also received gifts from the English Court to mark important events and occasions, many of which had also been purchased from Hunt and Roskell. Case in point… In 1851, the company " Hunt and Roskell " was booked for the marriage of Grand Duchess Ekaterina Mikhailovna , granddaughter of Tsar Paul I, the Duke of Mecklenburg -Strelitz . One piece of which, a lovely compote with a remarkable resemblance in size, style, & theme to these two pieces, has been on display in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, as part of the traveling exhibit, "British silver Victorian times".
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- Brand - Hunt & Roskell, Late Storr & Mortimer
- Artist - John Samuel Hunt
- Type - Collectible / Decorative Figurine / Table Decor / Compotes
- Design Era - ca. 1862
- Condition - Pre-Owned
- Composition - Gilt Finish Over .925 Sterling Silver
- Dimensions - Each Approximately 11.5" x 7.5"
- Weight - 3,544 Grams Total Weight (Boy - 1,847 Grams / Girl 1,697.5 Grams)