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William Eycott ? (active 1683)

Caddinet 1683-84

Silver gilt | 36.8 x 29.8 cm (whole object) | RCIN 31735

Jewel House, Jewel House

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  • A silver-gilt rectangular tray upon six lion couchant feet, the centre engraved with the arms of Charles II with supporters, altered to those of William and Mary with the cypher WM R above. At the top are two lidded boxes with lion couchant finial knobs.

    Sir Edward Walker's account of the coronation of Charles II describes the laying of the royal table before the banquet. First the cloth was laid by the Sergeant of the Ewry and the Gentlemen Ushers, accompanied by two Sergeants at Arms bearing maces; 'then the Officers of the Pantry with two Sergeants at Armes also with their Maces before them, in like manner sett the King's Salt of State & Caddinett on the Table'. Caddinets essentially served as individual salt or spice boxes, combined with a tray-like platter for the napkin and bread and often including boxes for containing the monarch's cutlery. That they were placed first on the table demonstrated that they were ranked in importance equal to the salt.

     

    Caddinets were first recorded in France during the reign of Henri II (1547–59), dressing the tables of the nobility. By the end of the following century their use had become exclusively a royal prerogative, not only among the French but in other European courts. In England, however, they were not known. Their short-lived appearance in England is attributed to Charles II, who, having encountered them while in exile, introduced them to the royal dining table. Only three English-made caddinets survive, this being the earliest example, supplied to the king in 1683. This piece must have been a replacement for the work described by Walker at the coronation banquet. A total of five caddinets are listed in the inventory of James II's plate, taken in 1687, where they were all described as gilt.

     

    The tradition of dining with a caddinet remained symbolic – William and Mary continued the practice in England, although it died out thereafter, but the exiled Stuarts also took it with them, both James Edward Stuart and Cardinal Henry Stuart commissioning examples in Italy in the early eighteenth century, although elsewhere they were no longer the fashion. Continuing such an out-dated tradition can only have been another attempt to underline royal status by the Stuart family.

    Text adapted from Charles II: Art and Power (2017).

    Provenance

    Supplied to Charles II, 1683; sold,1808; reaquired for the Royal Collection, 1975.

  • Medium and techniques

    Silver gilt

    Measurements

    36.8 x 29.8 cm (whole object)

    96 15/20 oz (Weight) (whole object)

    3010.0 g (Weight) (whole object)