- Museum number
Box in gold with tortoise-shell casing on sides and base and a hinged gold lid under glass cover with a high-relief profile portrait in wax of the Prince Regent set on an oval of translucent blue enamel on an engine-turned radiating ground and flanked by bloomed and chased two-colour gold foliate ornament with the Prince of Wales's feathers and coronet. The laurel-leaf border is on the top edge of lid and around the side. The thumb-piece is ornamented with shell and foliage motifs in gold relief and the inside of the gold lid is engraved.
- Production date
- 1815 (before)
Height: 3 centimetres
Length: 8 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from catalogue of the Hull Grundy Gift (Gere et al 1984) no 390:
John Watier was Chef to the Prince Regent and founder of Watier's gaming club in 1807; renowned as much for its excellent food as for its extravagant gambling, the club lasted until 1819. Peter Rouw (1770-1852), a wax-modeller of Flemish origin, exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1787-1840 and was appointed Sculptor and Modeller to the Prince of Wales in 1807, having trained at the Royal Academy Schools in 1788. In 1851 he exhibited a collection of wax portraits at the Great Exhibition (see Pyke 1973 and Forrer 1904-30). It is particularly important that the portrait is signed by the modeller, Rouw, as well as the engraver, Barber. The latter's signature appears on the medal of the Prince commemorating the Peace of 1814, but the identity of the modeller was not previously known. Because of the close similarities between the two heads, despite the addition of a laurel leaf on the 1814 medal, there is now no doubt that Rouw was responsible for this 1814 portrait of the Prince.
In the Victoria and Albert Museum is a gold box cased with tortoiseshell (Department of Sculpture, 390-78; L.8.9cm; W.7cm. See Fig.16) of similar construction to the one under discussion, with incurved sides and chased-gold thumb-piece; set into the lid is a high-relief portrait version of the 1814 laureate medal. The portrait, which is set under glass, appears to be gilded bronze and is flanked by the Prince of Wales's feathers and military trophies in chased gold relief. An oak leaf border replaces the laurel and there is an inner blue enamel rim instead of the central oval of blue enamel. The box was presented by King George 1V to Lieut. Colonel Addenbroke, Equerry to Princess Charlotte, but the date of presentation is not known. The portrait is signed on the truncation RUNDELL, BRIDGE & RUNDELL. J. BARBER F. The same signature occurs on the truncation of a similar gold portrait version of the 1814 laureate medal set as a gold pendant under glass on a blue enamel ground (Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Metalwork; see Bury 1982, p.107; Case 17, Board E, no.10, ill. on p.108). This pendant was awarded to George Purefoy Jervaise (d.1847) of Herriard Park, Basingstoke. No other example of the version without the laurel leaf, which is on the Watier box, has been recorded, but with these two pieces of evidence, it would seem likely that the Watier box may have been made by the firm of Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, who were 'Gold and Silversmiths to the Crown' and may be one of those snuff-boxes purchased from Rundell, Bridge & Rundell between 1814 and 1815, the bills for which can be found in the Royal Archives, Windsor Castle (RA 25871-3 and 25886); several are described as being made of both gold and tortoiseshell set with a 'cameo' of the Prince Regent. In this context, it would seem that the term 'cameo' is used loosely to denote a portrait head in relief.
Rundell, Bridge & Rundell were the most prominent firm of goldsmiths in Regency London and both Paul Storr and Benjamin Smith worked for them. Before 1805 the firm traded as Rundell & Bridge; from 1805 to 1833 as Rundell, Bridge & Rundell; after 1833 as Rundell, Bridge & Co. On the history of the firm see Penzer 1954 (pp 67-79); Bury 1966; Oman 1966.
However, it should be noted that Rouw had previously executed a profile bust of the Prince Regent in classical armour, facing left, without a wreath, which differs in several other details, such as the hair. A wax version of this portrait in the Victoria and Albert Museum (Department of Sculpure, 1065-1871) is signed P. Rouw, London, 1812. Consequently, Rouw's version set in the Watier box may have been executed several years before the box was presented to John Watier in 1815. It is not known when the Prince had the box made. (Charlotte Gere, Timothy Wilson & Judy Rudoe)
- On display (G47/dc7)
- Exhibition history
1992 4 Jun-8 Nov, Germany, Essen, Villa Hügel, London 1800-1838
- Acquisition notes
- Wartski, 14 Grafton Street, London W1. Three original invoices for £967, £967 & £966, together totalling £2,900 to Anne Hull Grundy dated 23.7.1975, 13.8.1975 & 3.9.1975. Paid with three separate cheques on 16.9.1975. Described as if for separate items 'A Regency tortoise shell snuff-box with crystal cover', 'A gold and royal blue enamel plaque by Rouw and Barber' and 'A gold lined Table snuff box with an inscription in the lid'.
'Sold at auction by Christie's, Tuesday April 2nd 1962'.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: HG.228 (masterlist number)