Silver Tazza comes home to Spalding

The silver Tazza ANL-160202-115054001
The silver Tazza ANL-160202-115054001

An 18th century silver dish linked to Spalding’s famous Johnson family is coming home to Ayscoughfee Hall Museum.

The silver Tazza, dated 1712, was made by French-born goldsmith Pierre Platel and accompanies a cup made by the same silversmith which was purchased by the historic venue in 2008.

The Tazza has been secured with help from the Art Fund, the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum Purchase Grant Fund and the Museums Association Beecroft Bequest as well as South Holland councillors who contributed from their designated ward budgets.

The Tazza goes on display at Ayscoughfee on Friday. It was previously displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York before being put up for sale.

It is silver gilt, circular and sits on a pedestal foot. It bears the hallmark for 1712, and was presumably made for the same individual who commissioned the companion cup (now known as ‘The Johnson Cup’) that resides in the permanent collection at the museum.

Coun Gary Taylor, portfolio holder for arts development, said: “This is fantastic news for the museum.

“Ayscoughfee Hall is clearly the most appropriate place for this Tazza and we are delighted to have acquired something with such close links to the district and the Johnson family.

“The museum’s staff are to be commended for their work on this project. I would also like to say a big thank you to The Art Fund and the Purchase Grant Fund for working with us and allowing us to bring the cup home.”

Julia Brettell, national programmes manager at the V&A said “This is the first time the Purchase Grant Fund has supported Ayscoughfee Hall Museum and we are pleased to be able to help the museum bring back the Tazza to Spalding.”

Stephen Deuchar, director of the art fund, said: “Back in 2008 the art fund helped Ayscoughfee Hall Museum buy the Johnson Cup, and now we’re supporting its reunion with a companion piece, this striking silver Tazza. Congratulations to the museum on making this important addition to their collection.”

It is possible that the cup was a wedding gift to Theophilus Fairfax Johnson, who was born in Ayscoughfee Hall and married Millicent Anne Moore in 1821.

Theophilus Johnson grew up at Ayscoughfee Hall before later moving to nearby Holland House.

He held the post of High Sheriff in 1847 and captain in the South Holland Yeomanry Cavalry.

The group was established as an antiquarian learned society, and is still in existence today, maintaining an accredited museum and lecture series.