Made of silver covered in gold, these sculptural vessels were made in The Hague and may have been a Royal gift from William III to William Cavendish, 4th Earl and 1st Duke of Devonshire.

It’s also possible they were acquired when the Duke accompanied the King to a royal congress at The Hague in 1691, when he is said to have 'outshin'd most of the Princes there: his plate and furniture were so magnificent, that the sight of them drew a greater concourse of people to his house than to any other place.'

The vessels are formed to resemble the leather water bottles carried by pilgrims in the Middle Ages. This historicising form was popular in the 17th century. The large and wide bottles would have provided a focal point when polished metals were laid out for display on tables during formal meals.

Return to the Devonshire Collection

Other metal items in the collection

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