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Nicholas Sprimont (1716-71)

Nicholas Sprimont (1716-1771) was a silversmith and entrepreneur who became the first director of the successful Chelsea Porcelain Factory. The Royal Collection contains both silver and porcelain pieces for the table designed by Sprimont in the fashionable rococo style.

Sprimont was born in Liège (in what is now Belgium) but moved to London in c.1742, where he initially practised as a silversmith.  Silver pieces made by him are exceptionally rare, and two pairs of salts in the Royal Collection (RCINs 51392 and 51393) are among the best-known examples of his work. The striking naturalism of these salts may have been achieved by casting actual seashells, crabs and crayfish from life. They were almost certainly supplied for the Marine Service of Frederick, Prince of Wales (1707–51) in the early 1740s. Sprimont is also thought to have worked on the Neptune centrepiece (RCIN 50282), a striking rococo creation in silver for the Prince's table, which embodied the fashionable French taste of the time. Sprimont's hallmark does not appear on the piece but he may have worked on it while waiting to enter his mark at the Goldsmiths' Hall, which he did so in 1743.

From c.1745 Sprimont was involved in the establishment of a porcelain factory at Chelsea. The enterprise was one of the first and most significant manufactories set up in England after the European discovery of soft-paste porcelain. Sprimont had probably acquired some knowledge of the material from fellow-Huguenots Andrew Lagrave and Thomas Briand (d.1749), and he adapted his existing silver designs for new and highly fashionable porcelain pieces.  Under his management, the Chelsea factory made sumptuous ornaments and tableware influenced by the productions of the Meissen and Sèvres factories for the Saxon and French courts. Notable Chelsea pieces in the Collection today are the 'Mecklenburg Service' (RCIN 5000031), commissioned by George III (1738–1820) and the extensive botanical tableware collected by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (1900–2002) after 1947.

Sprimont died on 22 June 1771, having sold his business to William Duesbury, manager of the Derby porcelain factory, in 1769.


Objects associated with Nicholas Sprimont (1716-71)