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THE EMPEROR'S PLATE (ASCOT GOLD CUP): A MAGNIFICENT VICTORIAN SILVER RACING TROPHY, PRESENTED BY EMPEROR NICHOLAS I OF RUSSIA
THE EMPEROR'S PLATE (ASCOT GOLD CUP): A MAGNIFICENT VICTORIAN SILVER RACING TROPHY, PRESENTED BY EMPEROR NICHOLAS I OF RUSSIA
THE EMPEROR'S PLATE (ASCOT GOLD CUP): A MAGNIFICENT VICTORIAN SILVER RACING TROPHY, PRESENTED BY EMPEROR NICHOLAS I OF RUSSIA
THE EMPEROR'S PLATE (ASCOT GOLD CUP): A MAGNIFICENT VICTORIAN SILVER RACING TROPHY, PRESENTED BY EMPEROR NICHOLAS I OF RUSSIA
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PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN COLLECTION
THE EMPEROR'S PLATE (ASCOT GOLD CUP): A MAGNIFICENT VICTORIAN SILVER RACING TROPHY, PRESENTED BY EMPEROR NICHOLAS I OF RUSSIA

MARK OF JOHN SAMUEL HUNT FOR HUNT & ROSKELL, SUCCESSORS TO STORR & MORTIMER, LONDON, 1846; DESIGNED BY EDWARD HODGES BAILY, R.A.

Details
THE EMPEROR'S PLATE (ASCOT GOLD CUP): A MAGNIFICENT VICTORIAN SILVER RACING TROPHY, PRESENTED BY EMPEROR NICHOLAS I OF RUSSIA
MARK OF JOHN SAMUEL HUNT FOR HUNT & ROSKELL, SUCCESSORS TO STORR & MORTIMER, LONDON, 1846; DESIGNED BY EDWARD HODGES BAILY, R.A.
The monumental parcel-gilt rococo revival vase on shaped square plinth applied on four angles with the Russian Imperial coat-of-arms, two sides inset with relief plaques of Peter the Great's palaces Peterhof and Gatchina, the others with prize inscriptions, the vase inset with two relief scenes illustrating heroic events in the life of Peter the Great: the Victory at Poltava of 1709 and a Rescue at Sea off of Finland in 1724, marked on vase, plinth, underside of plaques, coats of arms, nuts, and detachable flowers on the base; also stamped "HUNT AND ROSKELL LATE STORR AND MORTIMER No. 2795"
39 3/8 in. (99.5 cm.) high; 636 oz. (19,776 gr.)
Provenance
The Emperor's Plate (Ascot Gold Cup), 1847, won by The Hero, breeder John Barham Day Sr. (1794-1860)
Christie's, Geneva, 12 May 1983, lot 51

The Hero belonged to John Day Sr. and was trained by his son John Day Jr. In the Emperor's Plate race of 1847, The Hero was ridden by the trainer's younger brother Alfred who also won the smaller Queen's Vase, given by Her Majesty on Tuesday June 1st the same year (see illustration of both trophies, above). In The Emperor's Plate race, held two days later, The Hero was victorious again, beating six other horses with Wolf-Dog, Jericho, and Mendicant in second, third, and fourth place respectively. The Hero won easily by a length. He went on to win numerous other races, including a second Emperor's Plate in 1848, a Goodwood Cup, and an Ebor Handicap.
Literature
The Times, London, 29 May and 4 June 1847
The Illustrated London News, 5 June 1847, cover and pp. 361-2.

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Lot Essay

The Latin inscription reads:

Ludorum Ascotiensium Memor Quibus Ipse Interfuisset Reginae Victoriae Hospes Mens Jun MDCCCXLIV Solenne Certaminis Equestris Praemium Instituit Nicolaus Totius Russiae Imperator (Nicholas, Emperor of All the Russias, established a prize for an equestrian contest, remembering Ascot races, at which he himself had been present as a guest of Queen Victoria in June 1844)

The English inscription reads:
WON BY THE HERO 1847


The Ascot Gold Cup is Britain's most prestigious race for horses racing over long distances, traditionally held on Ladies' Day. The event, founded in 1807, was known as the Emperor's Plate for a nine-year period after Emperor Nicholas I attended the Ascot Races in 1844 as a guest of Queen Victoria. The Emperor enjoyed the races so much that he gave the astonishing sum of 500 sovereigns for a piece of plate to be awarded each year as the Gold Cup, Ascot's principal prize, renamed the Emperor's Plate in his honor. The series of nine silver prizes paid for by the Emperor from 1845 to 1853 comprise some of the most spectacular and imaginative race prizes ever commissioned.

Emperor Nicholas's generous patronage apparently gave carte blanche to the two leading Victorian silver firms, Hunt and Roskell, and Robert Garrard. These silversmiths engaged the greatest sculptors of the day to create the designs and models for the nine Emperor's prizes. Sculptors Edward Hodges Baily and Edmund Cotterill each designed four of the trophies, and Antoine Vechte designed the final cup in 1853. With the outbreak of the Crimean War, Nicholas withdrew his patronage, and the prize was reinstated as the Gold Cup, as it is known today.


Early in his career, sculptor Edward Hodges Baily (1788-1867) worked as a modeller and carver in the studio of the celebrated artist John Flaxman. In 1815 Baily joined the workshops of Royal Goldsmiths Rundell's as a designer and sculptor. After 1833, he joined Paul Storr and stayed on in Storr's successor firms, which became Hunt and Roskell in 1843. In addition to designing major works in silver such as the present vase, Baily is well known as the sculptor of several famous monuments in London, including the figure of Nelson on the column in Trafalgar Square, exterior ornament on Buckingham Palace and Marble Arch, and numerous sculptures in St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.


CAPTION: The Emperor's Plate of 1847, displayed in front of the Steward's Stand, Ascot Races, Illustrated London News, June 5, 1847

CAPTION: "The Ascot Prize Plate," Illustrated London News, June 5, 1847

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