English (London)
Marked by David Willaume I (British, 1658–about 1741)

Object Place: London, England


Cistern Dimensions: H. 66.04 x W. 114.3 x D. 68.58 cm (26 x 45 x 27 in.) Weight: (cistern) 1,775 oz 15 dwt Weight: (fountain) 1,049 oz 18 dwt

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


On View

William I. Koch Gallery (Gallery 250)





The cistern rests on a domed spreading foot assembled of three raised sections chased with two horizontal bands of gadrooning, and above, a chased band of pendant, stylized leaves below a molded arcade. The bombé body of the vessel is raised from heavy sheet, with a chased border of stylized leaves decorating the upper edge. The applied heavy rim is formed of a broad band of gadrooning. The handles are suspended from two brackets in the form of wyverns, cast in several pieces and heavily chased, applied at either end of the body. The urn-shaped fountain rests on a domed spreading foot that is chased with a broad gadrooned band. The spool-shaped stem, formed of several chased sections, has applied vertical brackets and cast gadrooned borders. it supports the baluster body of the vessel, which is formed of seven sections of raised sheet with a gadrooned underside, and four applied cast vertical brackets with rosetts. Four cast lions heads are applied to the shoulder of the vessel, each holding a cast is surmounted by a cast and chased figure in the form of a falcon.

The handles of the cistern and the finial of the fountain are modeled in the form of the heraldic supporters and crest of the earls of Meath, for whom this massive piece must have been made. George Augustus, Prince of Wales purchased the set sometime before 1727, when he was crowned George II. It was kept in Hanover, the ancestral home of the English Hanoverian kings. David Willaume, who marked this monumental set, was one of the most successful foreign-born silversmiths working in London.


ARMORIALS: Engraved on both cistern and fountain, the badge and motto of George, Prince of Wales, later George II, king of England (r. 1727-60); handles of the cistern and cover of the fountain modeled as the supporters and crest of the earls of Meath.


(Cistern) On rim of foot, date letter n; lion's head erased; Britannia; maker's mark WI (repeated on body to left of each handle).
(fountain) On body to left of spout, maker's mark WI (Grimwade 3129) (repeated inside cover); Britannia; lion's head erased(repeated inside cover); date letter n. on front molding above lion, date letter n; lion's head erased; Britannia; maker's mark WI.


1708/1709, probably Chambre Brabazon (b. about 1645 - d. 1715), 5th Earl of Meath, Dublin, Ireland, and London [see note 1]. By 1727, George Augustus, Prince of Wales, later King George II of England (b. 1683- d. 1760; r. 1727-1760), Hanover [see note 2]; until 1990s, by inheritance within the family [see note 3]; 1990s, sold by the dukes of Brunswick to a private collection; 1999, sold by this private collection, through Sotheby's, New York, to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 23, 1999)

[1] The cistern and fountain were probably ordered by Chambre Brabazon in 1708/1709 to mark his succession to the peerage in 1707.

[2] How and when the Prince of Wales acquired the cistern and fountain is not known, but before his accession in 1727 he had the engraved Meath armorials removed and replaced with his own motto and badge. It has been suggested that he acquired the set in 1717, the same year he commissioned a set of silver table wares and dining implements from London goldsmith Pierre Platel. See Ellenor M. Alcorn, "English Silver in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston," vol. 2, "Silver from 1697" (Boston: MFA Publications, 2000), pp. 72-75, cat. no. 20 and Tracey Albainy, "Hanoverian Royal Plate in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston," The Silver Society Journal, 14 (2002), pp. 14-17.

[3] Upon the succession of Victoria as Queen of Great Britain in 1837, the thrones of Hanover and Great Britain split, owing to the laws of Hanover, and the silver collection passed to the Duke of Cumberland, who became the King of Hanover. On June 27, 1866, Hanover was annexed by Prussia, and the family assumed the title Dukes of Brunswick and Lüneberg, and moved to Cumberland Castle in Gmuden, Austria.

Credit Line

Museum purchase with funds donated anonymously, Theodora Wilbour Fund in memory of Charlotte Beebe Wilbour, Harriet J. Bradbury Fund, and other funds, by exchange