These highly-detailed vessels, or cups, might be described as Mannerist in style, since they combine a Gothicising silver, jewel-encrusted ciborium form, with classically-inspired soldered figures, relief decoration, egg and dart detailing, and Renaissance strapwork.
The two vessels are covered with chased decoration, forming scrolling foliate forms, and are further embellished by semi-precious stone inlays. Each vessel stands on splayed feet, from which a baluster-shaped stem rises. The stem is decorated with relief panel medallions, depicting classical figures drinking wine and consuming grapes. Above, a shallow bowl, which is ornamented with classical masks that project out from the cup face, is topped by a lid. Small, classicising figures have been soldered onto this cover, placed so that they alternate with deep green and purple coloured gemstones. Each vessel is crowned by a large pinecone.
These fine works were crafted by Elkington & Co, who were pioneering silver manufacturers in the 19th Century. Established by Henry and George Elkington in the 1830s, the firm established innovative new forms of silver production and plating, facilitated by the emergence of new industrial technologies. Elkington & Co went on to win various prestigious awards, and became the chief suppliers of silverware to the Royal Family and noble households, both in Britain and across Europe.
Elkington silverware is now highly collectable, since the pieces, these vessels included, are of a high quality, and they are historically important, being produced by a company that radically redefined the established methods of silver production.