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Marlborough ice pail
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Ice pails, designed to cool a single bottle of wine, were made to be placed on the dining table. They became fashionable at the French court from the 1680s and were used by nobility and wealthy aristocracy throughout Europe.

This ice pail is one of the only surviving English examples made of pure gold. Their large, heavy form, lion masks and ringed handles show the influence of Huguenot goldsmiths. These craftsmen were French Protestants who, after 1685, came to Britain to escape religious persecution, bringing with them new designs and technical knowledge. Combined with spiral gadrooned decoration, a late-seventeenth-century English tradition, the style indicates a date of manufacture in London around 1700.

The ice pails were bequeathed by Sarah, 1st Duchess of Marlborough (1660-1744) to her grandson the Honourable John Spencer (1708-1746). The ice pails remained in the Spencer family at Althorp, Northamptonshire, until their acquisition by the Museum in 1981.

Marlborough ice pail

From London, England, c. ad 1700
Ht 26.7 cm
Wt 5.750 kg
Purchased with the aid of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, the Art Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Pilgrim Trust and funds bequeathed by Mrs Katherine Goodhart Kitchingman.

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