An important set of 12 antique sterling silver plates with plain styling and gadroon borders. Originally part of the extensive and well documented Mildmay service, the rims are hand engraved with the Mildmay coat of arms and Earl’s coronet. Excellent patina. Each is inscribed on the reverse with the scratchweight and numbered 49 through to 60. Total weight 7486 grams, 240.7 troy ounces. Diameter 24.13 cm, 9.5 inches. London 1737. Maker Paul de Lamerie, the celebrated Huguenot silversmith.
Biography – Paul de Lamerie (9 April 1688–1 August 1751). The Victorian and Albert Museum describes him as the “greatest silversmith working in England in the 18th century”.
Born in Bois-le-Duc, his French Huguenot family chose to follow William of Orange to England during the Glorious Revolution. In August 1703, de Lamerie became the apprentice to a London goldsmith of Huguenot origin, Pierre Platel (1659-1739). De Lamerie opened his own workshop in 1713 and was appointed goldsmith to George I in 1716. He worked in partnership with Ellis Gamble – formerly apprentice to Master William Hogarth- between 1723 and 1728. His early work is in the simple Queen Anne-styles, following classical French models, but de Lamerie is noted for his elaborate rococo style of the 1730s, particularly the richly-decorated works of an unidentified craftsman, the Maynard Master. Leaving his first premises in Great Windmill Street he moved to 40 Gerrard Street in 1738. Here he lived and probably had his shop, his workshops being located in one of the 48 properties he owned in the area.
His customers included Tsarinas Anna and Catherine, Count Aleksey, Sir Robert Walpole, Benjamin Mildmay (Earl Fitzwalter and Viscount Harwich), the Earl of Ilchester, the Earl of Thanet, Viscount Tyrconnell, the Duke of Bedford, and other members of the English aristocracy. He also worked for King George V of Portugal. One of his productions to the Portuguese Court was a huge solid silver bath tub lost in the great 1755 Lisbon earthquake. A two-handled silver cup and cover by Paul de Lamerie, dated 1720, was among the wedding gifts of Queen Elizabeth II.
Paul de Lamerie ranks as one of the stars of England’s finest period of silver. He was the most prolific silversmith of his time and his fame still lives on today.