© National Museums of Scotland
Formerly in Hamilton Palace, South Lanarkshire, now
in the National Museums of Scotland
William Beckford, the 10th
Duke of Hamilton's father-in-law, had a keen interest in earlier
artistic styles and commissioned work in the Gothic and German 16th-century
styles. He also owned important items from Japan, China and India
and ordered silver from London goldsmiths which was either based
on or influenced by Asian models.
This silver-gilt teapot and the three other pieces
in the same tea set are based on Yixing stoneware wine pots, and
are even carefully matted and burnished to imitate the surfaces
of the originals. The teapot, along with a very similar covered
sugar bowl and a milk jug, are hallmarked for 1817-18 and bear the
maker's mark of John Page, who had premises in Horseshoe Court,
Ludgate Hill in London, close to the royal goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge
& Rundell. The fourth item -a slop bowl -is struck with London hallmarks
for 1818-19 and the maker's mark 'I B' with a pellet or dot between
the letters, possibly for John Baddeley or James Barratt.
The tea set is of particular interest because
of its small size. It was clearly intended for Beckford's own personal,
solitary use and is a poignant reminder that he was a recluse who
shut himself up in his home at Fonthill Abbey in Wiltshire, to enjoy
his treasure house and concentrate on making more wonderful acquisitions.
Along with most of Beckford's remaining collection, the tea set
was bequeathed to his daughter, the Duchess of Hamilton. It was
purchased by the National Museums of Scotland in 1980, with support
from the National Art Collections Fund.