A ewer with its accompanying basin was among the most important components of the washing and grooming ritual known in France as la toilette. The ewer would have held water; the basin served as a small, portable sink. The intended function of this ewer and basin is made clear by the aquatic motifs chosen to decorate them. Beneath the spout of the ewer is a dolphin mask framed by bullrushes, and the finial of the hinged cover is formed by a dolphin whose tail serves as a thumbpiece. Bullrushes also decorate the inner sides of the basin. This ewer and basin are among the Museum's finest pieces of French Rococo silver. The sinuous lines of the ewer and its handle are a hallmark of the Rococo style, and the dolphin, appearing both in mask and finial form, was a frequently used motif.
Marking:  Crowned lily, 2 grains de remède, M B (maker's mark)  Fleur-de-lis, 2 stars above (charge mark for jurisdiction of Montpellier, 1744-50)  Crowned S, 2 pellets, M P L below (Montpellier warden's mark, 1745-46)  Crowned heraldic ermine (?) flanked by 2 pellets (discharge mark for jurisdiction of Montpellier, 1744-50)  Unidentified  Boar's head (Paris, restricted warranty, 1838-79)
Location of marks: - on bottom  on outside of foot rim ,  on rim of lip and cover, on outside of foot rim
[ Les Fils de Léon Helft , by 1933 ] at 25 Park Lane ]; Ella Morris de Peyster (by 1946–58; bequeathed to MMA)