Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Countess Portman Oak Parure

Diamond Oak Leaf Parure
From the Hull Grundy Gift
This and all related images from:
The British Museum

All images can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Something about the description for this magnificent jewel in the collection of The British Museum put me in mind of "The Phantom of the Opera."  However, instead of a "chandelier in pieces," here, we have a tiara in three pieces.  

The diamonds are set, open-back, with silver prongs on a structure of gold which takes the form of branches of oak leaves and acorns.  

The three diamond sections can be worn mounted to two tortoise-shell combs, hooked together on a special mount as a brooch or on the golden crown frame as a tiara.  The various parts are still housed in their original case from the jeweler:  Hunt & Roskell, 156 New Bond Street.  The jewelled elements are interchangeable between the combs, the brooch-frame and the tiara. The lid of the case is stamped with a Viscount's coronet and the initials MP."

This suite is part of the Hull-Grundy gift to The British Museum which we've been examining these past few days.  

Text from catalogue of the Hull Grundy Gift tells us:

This set was sold at Sotheby's in 1970 (19 March, lot 140) with its original case. The gold initials and coronet on the lid suggest that the tiara may once have been owned by Mary Selina Charlotte Portman, daughter of Viscount Milton and wife of William Henry Berkeley, 2nd Viscount Portman; she was married on 1 June, 1855, and died in 1899.

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