Layette basket

Layette basket

Layette basket
Silver
Probably London, England or Netherlands
About 1670
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.619-2008
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Layette baskets held the clothes and linen of a new-born baby. They were usually made of wicker, but in the grandest houses they could be of silver. A number of large silver baskets survive from the third quarter of the 17th century. Baskets of this shape are usually Dutch, while English baskets tend to be oval. However, this example may be English as Dutch baskets more often have broad, flat handles, rather than looped handles as seen here. It also has no maker's marks or hallmarks which would be very unusual for Dutch silver, but not unusual for English silver of this period.

The handles are decorated with hounds and other animals emerging from foliage. This motif may derive from a frieze ornament from 'Ornamenti di fregi et fogliami' (about 1650) by Stefano della Bella (1610-64). Such printed sources, which reflected favoured interests, were often used by craftsmen working in other media.