Sunday, March 20, 2011

Masterpiece of the Week: King George IV’s Bejeweled Tankard, 1823

Silver gilt, cameos, gemstones
Rundell, Bridge and Rundell, 1823
The Royal Collection
This silver-gilt tankard with a pinecone finial is a kaleidoscope of Silver-gilt, agate, onyx, sardonyx, jasper, amethyst, Siberian amethyst, chrysoprase, emeralds, ruby, Russian aquamarine, Russian green beryl, sapphires from Sri Lanka, pink sapphire, and turquoises. The tankard features exceptional rocaille work. Rocaille—one of the hallmarks of Rococo styling—relies heavily on patterns of shells, stones and other natural motifs. The Royal Jewelers at Rundell, Bridge and Rundell crafted this tankard in 1823 with an abundance of antique cameos of mythological subject matter, intaglio, and colorful gemstones. Most of the cameos date to the Sixteenth Century

Cameo-studded tankards were quite the fashion of the time. King George III had acquired one of his own. So, it was only fitting that King George IV should have one, too. It’s unclear whether Rundell, Bride and Rundell created this tankard especially for King George IV, but it certainly tickled his fancy and he quickly added it to the Royal Collection.

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