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: A Restoration Cup


Minneapolis Institute of Arts



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The city of London saw many ups and downs during the middle years of the XVII century, years when the puritanical ideals of Oliver Cromwell were in conflict with those of the courts of luxury-loving Charles I and the almost equally exuberant Charles II. Among the craftsmen who lived at this time was a silversmith whose name is unknown to us, but whose initials A. S. stamped on a number of vessels which he made, give us some record of his work. In 1649, the year in which Charles I was beheaded, he first appears as the maker of a wine taster now in a private collection in England. In 1652 he made a tall communion cup of simple design and in 1658 a caudle cup of thin beaten silver now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Two years later he executed in his London workshop the two-handled cup illustrated on the cover of this number of the Bulletin, and lent by Mrs. John Washburn for exhibition in the John Washburn Memorial Room.That he was a distinguished silversmith is evident from the quality of design and workmanship in this cup, and one can imagine the satisfaction he must have felt when the change in taste from the severity and simplicity of the Commonwealth permitted him to exercise his skill in making so fine a piece as this. In its shape, in the modeling and casting of the handles, and finally, in the hammering our of the broad band of repousse which covers the bowl and the greater part of the top, he found ample scope for his skill.To many collectors the elaborateness of such a piece makes less appeal than the simplicity to be found in early Stuart pieces or even those of the Commonwealth when almost all ornament was suppressed, but the appeal of its richness and elegance cannot be denied. Doubtless our nameless maker A. S. was very conscious of the fact that this was to be something of a show piece to be exhibited conspicuously with other plate on a dark oak sideboard and was anxious to have it designed in the latest fashion only just imported from Holland. The large tulips and the full flown flowers give evidence of this. The shape of the cup furthermore was comparatively new and had not been used until the closing years of the reign of Charles I.Although the simple name "two-handled cup" is frequently applied to pieces of this sort, they were also known as porringers and caudle cups. But whatever name the vessel is known by, it was certainly made to contain the hot drinks so much in vogue in England in the XVII century. Caudle was a drink associated especially with births and christenings consisting of thin gruel mixed with wine or ale sweetened and spiced.Not only because of the interest in the piece itself, but because of its appropriateness as an addition to the other objects of Tudor and Stuart association already in the room, this cup is an important item, and one which is certain to arouse interest on the parts of visitors to the Washburn Room at the Institute.Referenced Work of Art
  1. Two-handled silver cup, English, XVII century. Lent by Mrs. John Washburn
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Source: "A Restoration Cup," <i>The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin</i> 17, no. 14 (April, 1928): 67-68.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009