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Cake basket

Aldridge & Stamper (British, 1753–1757)

1757

Medium silver Measurements H: 10 3/4 x W: 14 1/4 x D: 12 1/4 in. (27.31 x 36.83 x 31.12 cm) Credit Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection Accession Number 70.7.157 Location Gallery 19, Bruce Galleries

Narrative

As trade with the East accelerated in the early eighteenth century, Asian textiles, porcelain, furniture, and prints flooded the West, captivating Europeans with their novel designs and scenes of faraway lands. Simultaneously, the publication of such books as Jean-Baptiste Du Halde’s Description of the Empire of China in 1736 popularized this “unknown” culture. In lieu of travel to exotic places such as China and India, people surrounded themselves with chinoiserie, or decorative arts influenced by Eastern designs. In this basket, silversmiths Edward Aldridge and John Stamper enhanced a distinctly European form with imaginative interpretations of Eastern motifs and imagery. It rests on four legs of mustachioed, Chinese-style figures with peaked hats; these motifs are echoed on the sides of the handle. Designed to serve cakes, scones, or biscuits, this cake basket reflects a high level of technical accomplishment in English silver. It is enriched with a superbly crafted pierced floral pattern separated by lines of pearl-like repoussé beads, all in the asymmetrical, naturalistic Rococo style.