14-piece Toilet Service

about 1750
Maker Unidentified


Overall (looking glass): 69 cm (27 3/16 in.) Overall (ewer): 24.2 cm (9 1/2 in.) Overall (basin): 10.8 cm (4 1/4 in.) Overall (glove trays): 25.5 cm (10 1/16 in.) Overall (scent bottles): 17 cm (6 11/16 in.) Overall (bowls with covers): 12 cm (4 3/4 in.) Overall (oblong boxes and covers): 17 cm (6 11/16 in.) Overall (square boxes and covers): 13.5 cm (5 5/16 in.) Overall (oblong pin cushion): 20 cm (7 7/8 in.) Weight without scent bottles and looking glass: 221 oz (6873g)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Sterling silver, gilt, cut glass, silk, walnut

On View

Alan and Simone Hartman Galleries (Gallery 241A)





14-piece toilet service, comprising a looking glass, ewer and basin, pair of glove trays, pair of scent bottles, pair of bowls and covers, pair of oblong boxes and covers, pair of square boxes and covers, and an oblong pin cushion. All engraved with the initial D under a ducal coronet. The initial and coronet are those of Elizabeth Sackville, Duchess of Dorset (d. 1768).

This toilet service, bearing the coronet and initial of Elizabeth Sackville, Duchess of Dorset (1687-1768), is elaborately decorated with scenes from the Italian Comedy and marine motifs, such as the ewer handle in the form of a dolphin.
An emblem of status, a silver service was the focal point of the aristocratic bedroom, where the morning toilet took place. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the morning toilet, was an elaborate social ritual, lasting two or three hours and attended by guests of both sexes. Assisted by hairdressers, tailors, and valets, the nobleman and woman washed their face and hands, had their hair arranged and powdered, applied cosmetics and perfumes, and dressed. The various boxes of the service contained scented creams, wig and face powder, rouge, jewelry, pins, and gloves.


20th-century French control mark


About 1750, Elizabeth Colyear Sackville (b. 1687 - d. 1768), Duchess of Dorset; 1768, bequeathed to daughter, Lady Caroline Sackville (b. 1718 - d. 1775) [see note 1], and at her death, probably bequeathed to her brother, George Sackville (b. 1715 - d. 1785), 1st Viscount Sackville; by descent to his granddaughter, Caroline Harriet Sackville (d. 1908) and her husband, William Bruce Stopford Sackville (b. 1806 - d. 1872), Drayton House, Northamptonshire [see note 2]; until 1959, by descent within the Sackville family; 1959, sold by a member of the Sackville family, through Thomas Lumley Ltd., London, to Antenor Patiño (b. 1896 - d. 1982), Bolivia and New York; October 28, 1986, Patiño collection sale, Christie's, New York, lot 12. 1988, Spink and Son, Ltd., London. By 1996, Alan and Simone Hartman, New York; 2001, gift of Alan and Simone Hartman to the MFA. (Accession Date: February 21, 2001)

[1] When it was sold in 1986, the toilet set was said to have been given by Lionel, 1st Duke of Dorset, to his daughter Caroline when she married in 1742. However, the set is marked with the initial and coronet of her mother, Elizabeth, who in fact bequeathed her silver gilt toilet set to Caroline in 1768. See Christopher Hartop, The Huguenot Legacy: English Silver, 1680-1760 from the Alan and Simone Hartman Collection (London, 1996), pp. 412-419.

[2] The toilet set was lent under his name to the "Special Exhibition of Works of Art," South Kensington Museum, June, 1862, no. 5991. At that time it was dated to circa 1700.

Credit Line

Gift of Alan and Simone Hartman and Harriet J. Bradbury Fund