Robert Cooper (fl.1680)
This great wine cistern of 1680 is by Robert Cooper and was originally the property of Baptist May, confidant of Charles II, and a second-hand purchase by the 1st Earl of Bristol. It is the earliest surviving piece of silver at Ickworth and one of the earliest silver cisterns still in existence.
Sterling silver bottle cistern. Robert Cooper, London, 1680-1. The large oval body is raised from a single sheet of silver, the bulbous lower part being chased to form broad, outward-facing flutes with flat, matted borders and separated from each other by thin, vertical concave flutes. In the upper interstices are chased acanthus leaves and forming the neck of the cistern is a broad band of trailing foliage with flowers and grapes carried by four putti, chased to be read on the interior. Further floral bands with matted grounds, divided into four by classical female masks, are chased into the flat rim which is bounded by a heavy reed and tie moulding soldered and riveted to the outer edge. Cast lion masks are set at either, narrow end of the exterior and hold in their mouths the pivot pins of the C-shaped swing handles, also cast, each of which has a winged cherub’s face with foliage above and pairs of outward facing scrolls designed to stop the handles against the lion masks when the cistern is carried. The cistern is raised on four scroll and dolphin feet, each cast in two parts with a beaded foliage strip soldered down the front to disguise the joint. Heraldry: The floor of the cistern has been re-engraved c.1751 with the quartered shield, supporters and motto of the 2nd Earl of Bristol in an ermine mantling and beneath an earl’s coronet.
Baptist May; bought from his executors by John Hervey (subsequently Lord Hervey and 1st Earl of Bristol) 7 May 1697; by descent to the 4th Marquess of Bristol. Accepted in lieu of death duties by HM Treasury in 1956 following the death of the 4th Marquess of Bristol. Loaned to the National Trust in 1956 under the auspices of the National Land Fund, later the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and then transferred to the National Trust in 1983.
Marks and inscriptions
Underside: Fully marked with maker’s mark ‘RC’ in dotted circle, leopard’s head crowned, lion passant, date letter ‘c’. Scratchweight: ‘314=15’
Makers and roles
Robert Cooper (fl.1680)
James Rothwell, Silver for Entertaining: The Ickworth Collection. Philip Wilson Publishers, 2016, pp. 64-7