Skip to Content
Arts of Europe

The MFAH collections of art created on the European continent encompass artistic styles across the time line of history, from the ancient world to the Middle Ages, and the Early Modern era to the 21st century.

French, c. 1685 - after 1750 (active London)
Cake Basket
Sterling silver

11 1/2 x 15 5/8 x 13 5/8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of George S. Heyer, Jr., in honor of his daughter, Jennifer P. Heyer

Arts of Europe

Although a cake basket was meant for serving cake, fruit, or other dry delicacies, this example is far more extravagant than the task at hand. It is a bravura example of what a silversmith could do to metal in the 18th century.

Augustine Courtauld was a prominent member of a group of Huguenot silversmiths who immigrated to London after 1685, when Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, which protected the religious and personal freedom of French Protestants. Courtauld was brought to England as an infant, was apprenticed to the distinguished Huguenot silversmith Simon Pantin in 1701, and went on to establish a dynasty of talented London silversmiths. Courtauld raised the body of the basket from a single piece of silver, then pierced the rim and bowl with patterns of crosses and swirls. The grapevine border, paw feet, and handle were cast separately and then applied. An engraver added the owner’s coat of arms to the inside of the bowl. The end result is a sophisticated, yet playful, addition to an English tea table.