Robert Cooper ( British, 1664 - 1717 )
- c. 1675
This toilet service is a fine and early example of the taste for Continental design in English silver after the Restoration. Its principal maker, Jacob Bodendick, received Royal protection and supplied some of the wealthiest patrons of the late 17th century. A native of Limburg, he received denization in 1661. In 1664, Charles II instructed the Goldsmiths' Company to allow Bodendick to assay his work and to register his mark at the Hall. The Goldsmiths' Company, despite its resistance to the competition of "aliens and foreigners," finally granted its freedom to Bodendick in 1673. The exceptionally high relief of the embossed and chased scenes of this toilet service is characteristic of Bodendick, who brought this north German technique to London. It is interesting that Robert Cooper, an English native, marked the two circular boxes in the same style. Cooper was also a distinguished silversmith who became Prime Warden, the highest office of the Goldsmiths' Company, in 1717. The design of this toilet service relates to French and Dutch examples of the 1670s. The decorative scheme of scenic panels with borders of stylized foliage did not become popular in England until later in the century; in fact the first design book with these motifs was apparently not published in England until 1694. In that year, the engraver C. de Moelder published a book of patterns for toilet services which closely reflect the style of the present example (see John Hayward, "A William & Mary Pattern Book for Silversmiths," "The Proceedings of the Silver Society," vol. II, no. 1, 1970, pp. 18-21.) The mirror in the present service also appears to be an early example of its type; a toilet mirror with a similar border design is dated 1692 (illustrated in Ellenor Alcorn, "English Silver in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Volume I: Silver before 1697," 1993, fig. 95, pp. 190-191). . . . The crests are those of Wyatt and Edgell. Richard Wyatt of Egham, Surrey, married Priscilla Edgell in 1766. Their son, Edgell wyatt (b. 1767) of Milton Place, Surrey, assumed the surname Wyatt-Edgell in 1813. His son, Richard Wyatt-Edgell (1797-1875), had a sister Maria rances (d. 1879) who may be the "F. Wyatt Soror Ricardi Wyatt" of the inscription on the large casket in this toilet service.