• Christie's Interiors - Style & auction at Christies

    Sale 5924

    Christie's Interiors - Style & Spirit

    22 September 2009, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 145

    THE THOMAS MOORE CALABASH CUP: A WILLIAM IV SILVER-MOUNTED CALABASH (BOTTLE GOURD) CUP OF BERMUDAN/IRISH INTEREST

    MARK OF CHARLES RAWLINGS AND WILLIAM SUMMERS, LONDON, 1834

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    THE THOMAS MOORE CALABASH CUP: A WILLIAM IV SILVER-MOUNTED CALABASH (BOTTLE GOURD) CUP OF BERMUDAN/IRISH INTEREST
    MARK OF CHARLES RAWLINGS AND WILLIAM SUMMERS, LONDON, 1834
    Engraved around the rim Drink of this cup, you'll find there's a spell in its every drop 'gainst the ills of Mortality and on the circular pedestal foot with presentation inscription To Thomas Moore Esqr. This cup formed from a Calabash which grew on the tree that bears his name, near Walsingham in Bermuda is gratefully inscribed by one of the most ardent admirers of his patriotism as a man and his genius as a poet MDCCCXXXIV Dudley Costello
    7 1/8 in. (20 cm.) high


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    Thomas Moore (1779-1852), Irish poet, balladeer, songwriter, satirist and entertainer, is now best remembered for the lyrics of "The Minstrel Boy." His ballads were published in 1846 and 1852 as Moore's Irish Melodies and considered Ireland's National Bard, held in as much esteem there as Robert Burns is in Scotland. His poems have been set to music by composers as diverse as Hector Berlioz and Benjamin Britten.

    In 1803, through the influence of his friend Lord Moira, Moore was appointed registrar to the Admiralty prize-court in Bermuda but left in 1804 travelling to Canada and the United States. It was after this trip that he published Epistles, Odes, and other Poems. He married the actress Bessy Dyke in 1811 and enjoyed great social success but, in spite of large earnings from his writing, his profligacy led to debt, aggravated by being held responsible for 6,000 embezzled by his deputy in Maine.

    Forced to leave England for Paris until 1822 when the debt was settled, he was a friend of Lord Byron and became his literary executor, attracting notoriety for destroying Byron's memoirs under pressure from his family who were concerned with the indiscretion of some of the content.

    Moore, on the subject of Bermuda and the present cup, wrote "Lines in one of my Bermuda Poems still live in memory, I am told, on those fairy shores, connecting my name with the picturesque spot they describe, and the noble old tree which I believe still adorns it. One of the few treasures (of any kind) I possess, is a goblet formed of one of the fruit-shells of this remarkable tree, which was brought from Bermuda, after years since, by Mr. Dudley Costello and which that gentleman, having had it tastefully mounted as a goblet, very kindly presented to me." The tree still stands at Walsingham in what is now Tom Moore's Tavern. In one poem Moore wrote:
    "Turns thus by the shade of the calabash tree,
    With a few who would feel and remember like me
    The charms that to sweeten my goblet, I threw,
    With a sigh to the past, and a blessing on you"

    Dudley Costello (1803-1865) was a soldier, journalist and illustrator whose sister Louisa, the limner, author and poet, was much admired by Moore. Costello was stationed in Bermuda as an ensign in the 96th Foot where he wrote a manuscript newspaper The Grouper for the amusement of his friends.

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