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Philip Rundell (1743 - 1827) The Portland Vase Wine Coolers

A Pair of George III Wine Coolers
Silver gilt                                                                                                                                
London 1823-24, 1820                                                                                                      
Maker's mark of Philip Rundell for Rundell, Bridge & Rundell
Height: 9.87in, 25cm                                                                                                           
Weight: 171oz, 5,340g


Anonymous sale, Christie's, London, 19 June 1913, lot 74 Baroness Burton (873 1962)
Anonymous sale, Christie's, London 27 November 1991, lot 78;
Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman, sale, Christie's, New York, 20 October 1999, lot 176; private collection.


Michael Clayton, The Christie's Pictorial History of English and American Silver, Oxford, 1985, p. 453, no. 708 

Silversmith Biography

Son of Thomas Rundell doctor of Widcombe Bath, born 1743. Apprenticed to William Rodgers jeweller of Bath on payment of £20. Arrived in London, 1767 or 1769, as a shopman to Theed and Pickett, Ludgate Hill, at a salary of £20 p.a.. Made partner with Picket in 1772 and acquired sole ownership of the business in 1785-6. Took John Bridge into partnership in 1788 and his nephew Edmund Walter Rundell by 1803, the firm being styled Rundell Bridge and Rundell from 1805. Appointed Goldsmith and Jeweller to the King in 1797, due it is said, to George III's acquaintanceship with John Bridge's relative, a farmer near Weymouth. He took Paul Storr into working partnership in 1807, an arrangement that lasted until 1819, when the latter gained independence. Only then was Rundell's mark entered as plateworker, 4th March, 1819. Address: 76 Dean Street, Soho, (the workshop). In 1823 John Bridge enters his first mark and it seems probable therefore that it was about this time that Rundell retired. He did not die however until 1827, leaving his fortune of 1.25 million to his nephew Joseph Neeld.


Modelled on the Portland Vase, the famous Roman glass vessel located in the British Museum, as a two-handled vase cast and chased around the sides with classical figures, the roundel on the base contains the classical profile of a young man wearing a Phrygian cap. The upper section is attached to the body with a bayonet fitting, with an inner liner.
Only a few of the vases which were fitted as wine coolers were produced by the firm between 1820 and 1824. The upper section could be removed to allow a bottle to be placed in the bowl; the vase can be inverted without any water leaking out.
The figures around the sides of the vase are thought to depict the story of the marriage of Peleus and Thetis (D.E. L. Haynes, The Portland Vase, 1975, pp. 16-20) although there have been many interpretations of the figures and the disc in the base probably depicts Paris.
It is not known when the dark blue glass Portland vase was first discovered but the first record of it was in the collections of Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte (1549-1627). It changed hands on a number of occasions until about 1780 when it was acquired by the antiquarian James Byres in Rome.

The Portland Vase Wine Coolers (1743 - 1827) Reference: DT12.12.1