Basin, Samuel Margas Jr. (British, active 1714–33), Silver gilt, British, London


Samuel Margas Jr. (British, active 1714–33)
ca. 1721
British, London
Silver gilt
Overall (confirmed): 2 1/4 in., 319 oz. 6.4 dwg. (5.7 cm, 9.932kg);
Diameter: 27 in. (68.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1968
Accession Number:
Not on view
This massive ewer and dish was made in London for shipment to St. Petersburg. It was part of a large order placed by Empress Catherine I, who ambitiously sought to bring fashionable western-style furnishings to her court. The ewer and dish would have been displayed on a tiered buffet for banquets and court dinners.

London's silversmiths in the eighteenth century attracted international buyers, and a small subset of them seem to have had good connections in prosperous centers like Lisbon and St. Petersburg. This set is much larger and heavier than a typical ewer and dish made for an English client, and it may be that Samuel Margas was working to his patron's specifications. He marked only the ewer with his own punch, and, presumably to save the cost of duty, did not have the pieces assayed. The applied arms with the double-headed eagle were added in Russia.
Inscription: Engraved lightly on underside of base near outer edge of sunk area: 319=15 (weight)
Engraved on underside of rim: No. 2;
Pricked on underside of rim: (in Cyrillic): Agl
Stamped on underside of edge of rim: 2

Marking: No marks
The Russian Imperial Family (until 1917) ; Harry Clifton ; Arthur E. Bradshaw ; [ sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries , New York, November 13–14, 1953, lot 354 ] ; Irwin Untermyer (until 1968; to MMA)