Silver kettles first appeared at the end of the seventeenth century and served to replenish empty teapots, which were small at this time. To keep the water hot, they were supplied with stands fitted with a spirit burner that warmed the underside of the kettle, allowing the silver to act as a heat conductor. The handles and lids were usually made of wicker or wood, or with ivory disk inserts that provided insulation from the boiling water. Due to the weight of a full kettle, they were often positioned next to the tea table on a stand and used with the assistance of a servant. As such a large and impressive silver item, kettles became a focal point of the tea ceremony and an obvious expression of wealth. Up until the 1730s, they were usually plain and of simple form, but the influence of Rococo taste transformed them into a vehicle for extravagant ornament.
This silver-gilt hot water kettle is elaborately chased in the Rococo style which experienced a revival during the early 19th century. The style is characterised by asymmetry, curvaceous forms and natural motifs such as shells, blossoms and foliage. Compared to the larger pieces made by Paul Storr at the beginning of the Regency period, there is greater fluidity in the design of this kettle and stand. The firm was created in 1819, when Paul Storr entered into partnership with John Mortimer, an assistant to a retiring goldsmith. Upon agreement, Storr designed and manufactured silverwares which Mortimer then sold in their shop in New Bond Street, London. The firm catered to an influential clientele and by the time this kettle was made, Storr was Britain’s most celebrated silversmith.
This kettle is engraved with the arms of the Rev. Hon. Edward Southwell Keppel (1800-83, the third surviving son of William, 4th Earl of Albemarle and the Hon. Elizabeth Southwell), and his wife Lady Maria Clements. Lady Maria was the daughter of Nathaniel Clements (2nd Earl of Leitrim) and Mary Bermingham, whom he married in 1828.