Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sculpture of the Day: “The Family Dog” Centerpiece, 1842

With Figures of Eos, Cairnach, Islay
and Waldmann
R. & S. Garrard & Co., Manufacturer
Prince Albert, Designer
Edmund Cotterill, Modeler
Silver Gilt, 1842-43
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth II

Since I was plagued with weird technical issues yesterday--power was out, internet was out, cable was out...all in succession, we will catch up with our "Treat of the Week" tomorrow.  So, all you foodies, get ready.  

For now, let's look at a delicious table adornment of a different sort.

Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, as we know, loved their dogs. Here at Stalking the Belle Époque, we’ve examined several of the paintings and sculptures that the Queen and her consort had commissioned of the Royal family’s beloved pets. This silver gilt centerpiece by Garrards takes the cake, or at least holds it.

In 1842, after having a silver figure of his favorite greyhound Eos created for him by the Royal Jewelers at R. & S. Garrard & Co., Prince Albert commissioned the silversmiths to create a massive centerpiece which featured figures of four of his and Victoria’s cherished dogs. Since Prince Albert rather enjoyed artistic pursuits and had already tried his hand at jewelry design, he collaborated with the sculptors and designers at Garrards, helping them come up with the final blueprint for this magnificent work of art. According to the Prince’s specifications, the centerpiece was to be a tazza in the style of the Italian Renaissance. Along the base, figures of four dogs were to be arranged.

The first was to be Eos, Albert’s greyhound. The next would be Islay, Victoria’s terrier whom she described as, “…a darling little fellow, yellow brindled, rough long hair, very short legs and a large, long, intelligent good face.” Third would be Cairnach, another terrier. The Queen said this of Cairnach, “‘he had such dear engaging ways.” Finally, a sculpture of a dachshund named Waldmann. The Queen, throughout her life owned several dachshunds. All of them were called Waldmann.

The finished centerpiece is quite large, standing 78 centimeters (30 inches) tall. It was displayed at the 1849 Exhibition of British Manufactures to mixed reviews. While some thought the influence of Italian Renaissance design introduced by Prince Albert made the whole piece look a bit too, “French” (which doesn’t make much sense, but there you are), overall, people applauded the piece for its artistry if not for the fact that it’s just so darn adorable.

No comments: