The Capel Basket is an exceptionally rare piece of French silver.
Its unique shape and decoration mark a turning point in English
silver design and anticipate the golden age of the English silver
It is one of the most important acquisitions by any museum in
the area of English silver, in recent times. It shows a combination
of the techniques for which the Huguenot goldsmiths were famous
in particular, casting, embossing and soldering. The serpent handles
are exceptionally well cast and the border decoration is composed
of a painstaking combination of reeding (opposite to fluting)
and separately formed and burnished ribbonwork.
do we see?
The basket is an elongated octagonal form with entwined double
serpent handles. Its sides are delicately embossed with a pattern
suggestive of woven basketwork and on the flat base there are
panels of ornament incorporating baskets of flowers amidst scrolling
foliage. At the centre are the family arms of Sir Henry Capel
It has been suggested that The Capel Basket is a layette basket,
a form commonly made in Holland for the linen and clothing of
a newborn baby. Sir Henry Capel did not have children so it is
probable that it was made purely for display.