A Highly Important Set of Royal Four Single-Light Wall Sconces

A Highly Important Set of Royal Four Single-Light Wall Sconces

Charles II
English, circa 1670

Height: 39.2 cm, 15 ½ in.
Weight: 6,446 g, 207 oz. 6 dwt
 

Each of the shaped oval backs richly embossed in relief with lions, putti and partially applied winged dragons emerging from masses of scrolling acanthus foliage, central plain convex panels with palm leaf cartouches, applied above and below with busts of Susanna, the Hebrew wife from the Book of Daniel, two of the drip pans struck with apparently mid-18th century lion passant marks, the reverses scratch engraved with various later inventory numbers and three with later scratch weights:
'53=10,' '55=5' and '51=10'
 

King George III, Jewel Office, by 1812
Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, circa 1816
Gregory de Ligne Gregory (1786-1854) of Harlaxton Manor, Lincolnshire
Sir Glynne Earle Welby-Gregory 3rd Bt. (1806-1875) and then by descent.
Christie's, London, 25-26 November 2014, lot 603
 

'A List of His Majesty's Plate , in the Jewel Office, 18th February 1812.' (National Archives, Kew, LC 9/351)
'Inventory of articles (heirlooms, including library and works of art) at Harlaxton New Manor House,' 1864-66 (National Archives, Kew, J 90/1217, Chancery Case, D'Eyncourt v Gregory, p. 58, nos. 36-39, ‘Plate’)

These sconces have been identified as among those in an inventory of George III's silver entitled 'A list of His Majesty's Plate in the Jewel Office, 18th February 1812.' (National Archives, Kew, LC 9/351 – Jewels and plate: deliveries, receipts and inventories) A red ink annotation to this list states that a number of these sconces were 'Taken to Carlton House by Mr. [John] Bridge [of the royal goldsmiths, Rundell, Bridge & Rundell], part being finely embossed & engrav'd for the Prince Regent to see. Some of them approved by his Royal Highness & weer ordered to be new Gilt.' This was in 1816, of which order to be refurbished were two sconces, the nozzles bearing the mark of Paul Storr, chief silversmith to Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, which remain in the royal collection. (A. E. Jones, The Gold and Silver of Windsor Castle, Letchworth, 1911, p. 34, pl. XVII)

The present sconces were among the considerable quantity of plate which the Prince Regent chose not to keep, so were sold, ostensibly for melting, to Rundell, Bridge & Rundell. Like many other pieces in this group of royal plate, however, Rundell's disposed of them as part of their stock of second-hand and antique silver, a branch of their business which at that time was flourishing.

They were ultimately acquired, together with another set of four late 17th century silver sconces from the royal collection (Christie's, London, 25-26 November 2014, lot 555), by Gregory de Ligne Gregory (1786-1854), formerly Gregory Gregory Williams, who in 1822 inherited Harlaxton, near Granthan, Lincolnshire and other estates which had belonged to his uncle, George de Ligne Gregory (1740-1822). Gregory, who amassed a large collection of works of art and other treasures (later known as the 'Harlaxton Heirlooms'), began to build an extravagant new mansion called Harlaxton Manor in 1832, with Anthony Salvin and then William Burn as architects. The project remained unfinished at the time of Gregory's death 22 years later.

These sconces are listed in the 'Inventory of articles (heirlooms, including library and works of art) at Harlaxton New Manor House,' 1864-66, as follows:
No. 36, ‘A chased Silver Sconce Dining Room – 51 oz. 10 dwt.’
No. 37, ‘A chased Silver Sconce Dining Room – 51 oz. 10 dwt.’
No. 38, ‘A chased Silver Sconce Dining Room – 53 oz. 10 dwt.’
No. 39, ‘A chased Silver Sconce Dining Room – 55 oz. 5 dwt.’.
(National Archives, Kew, Ms. J 90/1217, p. 58, nos. 36-39, ‘Plate’)

Flamboyantly embossed silver sconces of a similar character, also with applied busts of Susanna have been recorded bearing the marks of Friedrich Kettwyck of Hamburg, circa 1670. (Erich Schliemann, editor, Die Goldschmiede Hamburgs, Verlag Schliemann & Cie, 1985, vol. III, p. 191, p. 435) These were made for Georg Wilhelm (1624-1705), Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg-Celle who may have ordered them to compliment the interior stucco, also featuring heads of Susanna, of his castle at Celle, which decoration was created by Giovanni Battista Tornielli between 1670 and 1676. George I, Elector of Hanover and King of England, who was crowned in London on 20 October 1714, inherited silver from his uncle Georg Wilhelm and the sconces are listed in the inventory of 1747, 'Complete inventory of the court silver comprising all his Royal Majesty our most gracious lords’ utensils of Gold and Silver, at present in the Royal and Electoral Silver-Chamber at Hanover.
 

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