Benjamin Pyne

(c. 1653—1732)

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(b ?Devon, c. 1653; d London, 1732). English goldsmith. He was probably working independently by 1680, when the first mark attributed to him, a crowned p, appears. Several pieces by him survive from the mid-1680s, including one of the two Croft Cups (1685; London, BM). These early works are in a robust and well-proportioned Baroque style. Much of his work demonstrates a command of Huguenot techniques combined with an adherence to a native English style. It is clear from the quantity of his surviving work that he ran a large workshop, and it is likely that he employed Huguenot journeymen as plateworkers. Among his most outstanding works is a set of four silver-gilt dessert dishes (1698; two each in London, V&A; Los Angeles, CA, Gilbert priv. col.); these are chased with ornament derived from prints after Stefano della Bella (1610-64) and were possibly engraved by Simon Gribelin II. Other important surviving works include a pair of ewers and a dish (1699) made for Anthony Grey, 11th Earl of Kent, and a 32-piece silver-gilt toilet service (1708; London, Al Tajir priv. col) made for Thomas Howard (d 1732), 8th Duke of Norfolk. A significant part of his output consisted of church plate and municipal regalia. His long and distinguished career ended in poverty: he was obliged in 1727 to apply for the position of Beadle of the Goldsmiths’ Company.

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design.

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