Pair of tea canisters

ARTIST / MAKER: Augustin Courtauld (maker)
DATE: 1733 (made)
PLACE: London (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Silver-gilt with engraved decoration

By the 1700s, the fashion for tea drinking was a widespread ritual among wealthy British citizens, which established a greater demand for beautiful and functional teawares, with which tea could be stored.

This pair of tea canisters by the Huguenot goldsmith Augustine Courtauld feature a highly detailed coat of arms for Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough (1706-1758) and his wife Elizabeth (d.1761), flanked on either side with a man and woman in profile. The initial ‘M’ is engraved on both sides of the caddies, the monogram for the Marlborough Dukedom.

Augustine Courtauld became an English citizen in 1696 at the age of eleven, and after his apprenticeship to Simon Patin, registered his first mark in 1708. Until 1729, he worked in the Britannia standard of silver, influenced by Queen Anne style pieces such as those produced by his master, Pantin. Later adapting to the Sterling standard, he continued to produce pieces in this refined style, completing commissions for many notable families, including the Russian Royal family, as well as for the City of London Corporation.