Tea and coffee set

ARTIST / MAKER: W.R. Smily (maker)
DATE: 1855 (made)
PLACE: England (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Silver, with ivory insulators

The maker of this tea and coffee set, William Robert Smily (active 1833-1858), was part of a family of successful London silversmiths. After an apprenticeship to his father, he established his own business first as a spoon maker and later as a manufacturing silversmith of decorative objects and tablewares. Victorian designs and decorative arts were characterised by their eclecticism, as craftsmen typically borrowed from and combined several aspects of previous styles, such as Medieval, Renaissance or 18th-century French Rococo ornament. This four-piece tea and coffee set demonstrates the renewed fashion for scrollwork, lavish decoration and curvaceous asymetry synonymous with the Rococo style.