XQG 2002 189
Four large silver-gilt scallop shell tureens, each surmounted by a triton blowing a conch shell horn. The rippled cover has a handle in the form of a coiling eel with a lobster and naturalistic vegetables. The tureen is supported on three hippocamps and a triform base cast with waves, on three feet cast in the form of tortoises, shells and coral.
These impressive tureens were supplied by Rundells for George IV's Grand Service in 1826/7 and described as '4 richly chased gilt shell pattern Soup Tureens supported by Sea Horses with Triton handle'. They were designed to match the superb Marine Service of rococo silver made for Frederick, Prince of Wales, in the 1740s. The extreme naturalism of their design parallels Nicholas Sprimont's crayfish and crab salts made in 1743. However the massive scale and weight of the tureens is quite unlike mid-eighteenth century silver and reflects the increasingly opulent tastes of George IV.
Rundells pioneered organic naturalism and the rococo revival style in silver in the early nineteenth century, largely by means of the plate that they supplied for George IV. They also drew inspiration from sixteenth and seventeenth century plate; the hippocamps or seahorses which support the tureens are derived from an early seventeenth century nautilus cup, considered by Flaxman to be by Cellini, sold to George IV by Rundells in 1823.