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Paul de Lamerie, Basket (1738-1739)

For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Basket (1738-1739) by Paul de Lamerie.

About the Work

Title : Basket
Artist : Paul de Lamerie
Year : 1738-1739
Medium : Silver
Dimensions : 25.4 x 35.6 x 33 cm (10 x 14 x 13 in.)
Location : Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

This silver basket by Paul de Lamerie was most likely used to hold cake or bread. Between the 16th to 19th centuries, a trend developed wherein English merchants would take locally crafted luxury items overseas to America.

Paul de Lamerie was one of the greatest British silversmith of the 18th century. de Lamerie started his career as one of Pierre Platel’s mentees, but established his own shop by the early 1700s. While this young silversmith’s style started off as simplistic, it eventually evolved into a unique version of Rococo.

As described by the digital catalogue of the Harvard Art Museums:

“Of oval form, the foot elaborately cast and chased with foliage, rocaille, and masks of Ceres and lions, the raised everted sides pierced and engraved inside and outside with continuous foliate scrolls, the rim applied with cast border of scrolls, rocaille and cherub heads; the overhead swing handle cast with acanthus-clad scrolls and female heads and applied with similar decoration.”

De Lamerie’s use of the shell motif and other designs found in nature highlights his love for the highly ornamental Rococo style.

Other Details

Paul de Lamerie’s Basket  is housed in the Harvard Art Museums in Room 2340, European and American Art, 17th–19th century. It is part of the museum’s collection of the The Silver Cabinet: Art and Ritual

To learn more about iconic artworks and their socio-political context, visit Artwork in Focus.

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