Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gifts of Grandeur: Queen Mary’s Coronation Vase, 1896-1903

Michael Perchin for Fabergé
Inscribed and Presented in 1911
The Royal Collection
King George V and Queen Mary, much like George’s grandmother and grandfather (Queen Victoria and Prince Albert) delighted in giving gifts to one another. These were often presented for no reason whatsoever, but, on special occasions, they were always quite grand.

Take this vase of rock crystal, gold, enamel, cabochon rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, for example. This work by Michael Perchin of Fabergé was originally purchased by Leopold de Rothschild from Fabergé's London branch, 1911 (thought it had been made a little over twelve years earlier). Rothschild presented the vase to King George V, who in turn gave it to Mary of Teck, his Queen Consort, on their coronation day, June 22, 1911

King George V wrote in his diary, “Today was indeed a great and memorable day & one which we can never forget…There were hundreds of thousands of people who gave us a magnificent reception.”

Created in the Renaissance style, the vase is engraved with stylized fire-birds and is inscribed with the date of the coronation and the royal arms. The inscription, obviously, was added later. The rest of the design is defined by polychrome enamel set with cabochon rubies, sapphires and emeralds upon the gold mounts. When King George V presented this to Queen Mary, he filled it with orchids grown in his hot houses at Gunnersbury Park.

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