THE EMPEROR'S CUP, 1845
A VICTORIAN SILVER SCULPTURAL CENTREPIECE
THE EMPEROR'S CUP, 1845
A VICTORIAN SILVER SCULPTURAL CENTREPIECE
THE EMPEROR'S CUP, 1845
A VICTORIAN SILVER SCULPTURAL CENTREPIECE
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THE EMPEROR'S CUP, 1845
A VICTORIAN SILVER SCULPTURAL CENTREPIECE
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PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF ALEXANDRA ANASTASIA, DUCHESS OF ABERCORN
THE EMPEROR'S CUP, 1845 A VICTORIAN SILVER SCULPTURAL CENTREPIECE

MARK OF JOHN SAMUEL HUNT, FOR HUNT AND ROSKELL, LONDON, 1844, DESIGNED BY EDWARD HODGES BAILY

Details
THE EMPEROR'S CUP, 1845
A VICTORIAN SILVER SCULPTURAL CENTREPIECE
MARK OF JOHN SAMUEL HUNT, FOR HUNT AND ROSKELL, LONDON, 1844, DESIGNED BY EDWARD HODGES BAILY
On shaped triangular plinth, surmounted by the equestrian figure of Peter the Great crushing a serpent beneath the hooves of his horse on rockwork base applied twice with an inscription, in Latin and Russian, the lower plinth applied on the three angles with the Imperial Russian arms and with detachable panels between, depicting the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, The Kremlin, Moscow and Windsor Castle, with inscription beneath, the top of the plinth applied on the angles with figures of Russian cavalry officers from the Guard Caucasian Mountain Squadron, the Guard Cossack Regiment and the Horse Guard Regiment, the body of the centrepiece, applied with rectangular plaques, the first depicting St. George and the Dragon, the second Prince Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin, and the third with an inscription, each with laurel wreaths between, marked on base, body, rockwork, coats-of-arms, wreaths, reverse of panels, tails of the small horses, the Emperors cloak and most nuts, the underside of the horses engraved No. 1854 Published as the act directs by Hunt and Roskell, 136 New Bond Street, London July 1845
37 7/8 in. (96.2 cm.) high
596 oz. 4 dwt. (18,544 gr.)
The inscription on the plinth rim reads ‘WON BY CHESTNUT HORSE THE EMPEROR’.

The inscriptions on the body read, ‘LUDORUM ASCOTIENSIUM MEMOR / QUIBUS IPSE INTERFUISSET / REGINAE VICTORIAE / HOSPES / MENS IUN MDCCCXLIV / SOLENNE CERTAMINIS EQUESTRIS PRAEMIUM / INSTITUIT / NICOLAUS / TOTIUS RUSSIAE IMPERATOR’.

The inscription on the rockwork base reads, '‘PETRO PRIMO / CATHARINA SECUNDA / MDCCLXXXII’ and ‘????? ??????? / ???????? ?????? / ???? 1782’.
Provenance
Won by the Earl of Albemarle’s chestnut horse The Emperor, The Emperor’s Cup, Ascot Races, 12 June 1845,
William Charles Keppel, 4th Earl of Albemarle G.C.H. (1772-1849),
Major-General Sir Harold Augustus Wernher, 3rd Bt., G.C.V.O. (1893-1973), who married Countess Anastasia de Torby (1892-1977), granddaughter of Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia, displayed in the Russian Rooms, Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire, by descent to their elder daughter,
Georgina Wernher (1919-2011), who married firstly Lt.-Col. Harold Joseph Phillips (1909-1980) in 1944, and secondly Lt.-Col. Sir George Kennard, 3rd Bt., in 1992, by descent to her eldest child by her first marriage,
Alexandra Anastasia Hamilton, Duchess of Abercorn (1946-2018).
Literature
‘Ascot Races, The Prize Plate’, The Illustrated London News, vol. 6, 14 June 1845, pp. 383-384, illustrated.
G. J. Cawthorne and R. S. Herod, Royal Ascot, Its History and Its Associations, London, 1902, pp. 92, illustrated.
M. Urwick Smith, Luton Hoo, The Wernher Collection, Crawley, 1970, p. 24, illustrated.
R. Trevelyan, The Wernhers of Luton Hoo, London, 2012, p. 408.

Lot Essay

THE EMPEROR’S PLATE
The present lot is the first of a series of nine magnificent trophies given by Emperor Nicholas I of Russia from 1845 until 1853. The Emperor visited England in 1844 and attended Ascot Races as a guest of Queen Victoria. In commemoration of this visit he gave the astonishing sum of 500 sovereigns for a piece of plate to be awarded each year as the Gold Cup, Ascot Races' principal prize, which was renamed the Emperor's Plate in his honour. The Ascot Gold Cup was and still is Britain's most prestigious race for horses racing over long distances. It is traditionally held on Ladies' Day, the Thursday of Ascot Week. The event, founded in 1807, was known as the Emperor's Plate for a nine-year period until the outbreak of the Crimean War, when Emperor Nicholas withdrew his patronage and the prize was reinstated as the Gold Cup.
The trophies comprise some of the most spectacular and imaginative race prizes ever commissioned. Emperor Nicholas' generous patronage gave carte blanche to the two leading Victorian silver firms, Hunt and Roskell, and later Robert Garrard to create the most impressive of prizes. These silversmiths engaged the greatest sculptors of the day to create the designs and models for the nine Emperor's Cups. Sculptors Edward Hodges Baily and Edmund Cotterill each designed four of the trophies, and Antoine Vechte designed the final cup in 1853.

EDWARD HODGES BAILY R.A.
The present trophy, the very first to be presented, was modelled on the celebrated equestrian statue of Peter the Great in St. Petersburg, was designed by sculptor Edward Hodges Baily (1788-1867), the sculptor of the figure of Admiral Nelson on Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square. He studied at the Royal Academy School and became an associate of the Academy in 1817, coming just ahead of the painter John Constable in the ballot. On the death of Benjamin West he was elected as a Royal Academician. He trained as a modeller and carver in the studio of the celebrated artist and sculptor John Flaxman and joined the workshops of Royal Goldsmith Rundell, Bridge and Rundell as a designer and sculptor in 1815. After 1833, he joined Paul Storr and stayed with Storr and Mortimer’s successor firms, which traded as Mortimer and Hunt from 1839 until 1843 and then as Hunt and Roskell until 1897, (C. Oman, 'A Problem of Artistic Responsibility: The Firm of Rundell, Bridge & Rundell', Apollo, January, 1966, p. 180). He created sculptural trophies for Ascot, Doncaster and Goodwood Races and many Testimonials. In addition to designing these major works in silver he is well known as the sculptor of several famous monuments in London, including the figure of Nelson mention previously , exterior and interior sculptural panels for Buckingham Palace and Marble Arch, and numerous sculptures in St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.

THE NINE EMPEROR’S PLATE TROPHIES
1845: A centrepiece based on Falconet's sculpture of Peter the Great in St. Petersburg, the base flanked by Russian equestrian troops – the present lot. Designed by E. H. Baily and supplied by Hunt and Roskell.
1846: A thirteen-light candelabrum with St George slaying the Dragon, designed by E. H. Baily and supplied by Hunt and Roskell.
Illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, The Glory and the Goldsmith, Magnificent Gold and Silver from the Al-Tajir Collection, Christie's London, 1989, pp. 222-223. Christie's New York, 11 April 2003, lot 206.
1847: A two-handled rococo vase on plinth with scenes from the life of Peter the Great, Designed by E. H. Baily and supplied by Hunt and Roskell, Christie's, New York, 17 May 2011, lot 143.
1848: A circular shield centred with Peter the Great and chased with scenes of his life. Designed by Alfred Brown ‘with E. H. Baily contributing his invaluable suggestions’, Illustrated London News, June 1848, supplied by Hunt and Roskell.
1849: A centrepiece of the death of Hippolytus. Designed by E. Cotterill and supplied by R. & S. Garrard and Co.
1850: A ewer cast and chased with scenes from the Labours of Hercules, designed by E. Cotterill and supplied by R. & S. Garrard and Co., exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851. An illustration of the cup in the 1851 catalogue is reproduced in J. Culme, Nineteenth Century Silver, London, 1977, p. 158.
1851: A wine-cistern surmounted by figures in a sleigh being attacked by wolves, designed by E. Cotterill and supplied by R. & S. Garrard and Co., A Descendent of the 2nd Earl of Strafford; Christie's London, 30 November 2006, lot 614.
1852: A seven-light candelabrum, the theme taken from Sir Walter Scott's 'Thomas the Rhymer', designed by E. Cotterill and supplied by R. & S. Garrard and Co.
1853: A two-handled vase with cover on plinth with scenes derived from the history of the horse, designed by A. Vechte and supplied by Hunt and Roskell.

THE DESIGN SOURCES FOR THE CENTREPIECE
The sculpture of Peter the Great is based on the immense equestrian statue of Peter the Great in the Senate Square, Saint Petersburg, which was unveiled 1782. Commissioned by Catherine the Great (1729-1796) it was created by the French sculptor Étienne Maurice Falconet (1716-1791). Today it is colloquially known as the Bronze Horseman, a name which comes from an 1833 poem of the same name by Alexander Pushkin. The statue has become one of the symbols of Saint Petersburg. The statue's pedestal, also depicted on the Emperor’s Cup, has come to called the Thunder Stone, a granite monolith thought to perhaps have been the largest single rock ever moved by man. Originally said to have weighed over 1500 tonnes, its mass was reduced during transportation and subsequent carving.
Catherine the Great commissioned the statue to add legitimacy to her rule, aligning her reign with that of the most celebrated Russian emperor, Peter the Great. On the advice of her librarian, the French philosopher Denis Diderot (1713-1784), Catherine turned to the sculptor Étienne Maurice Falconet, who had established his reputation working with Sevres, the French Royal porcelain factory, producing models for figurative table sculptures. He travelled to Russia in 1766 where he stayed until 1778 when he had to leave after a breakdown of his relationship with the Empress. The casting of the statue commenced in 1775. The unveiling of the work took place in front of a large crowd on 7 August 1782.
The two scenes depicted on the finely chased plaques inset on the upper body of the centrepiece also relate to the history and iconography of Russia. One shows the patron saint of the Moscow, St. George, slaying the Dragon, appropriately also patron saint of England. The other depicts Prince Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin, who raised a volunteer army that succeeded in expelling the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth forces commanded by King Sigismund III of Poland from Moscow in 1612, thus ending the Time of Troubles, a turbulent period of Russian history. This victory led to the establishment of the Romanov dynasty. The source of the scene is a Moscow monument raised by Emperor Tsar Alexander I, realised by the Russian sculptor Ivan Martos (1754-1835), which was unveiled in Red Square in 1818.

SIR HAROLD AND LADY ZIA WERNHER
The Emperor's Cup was acquired in the 20th century by Sir Harold and Lady Zia Wernher for display in their specially designed Russian Rooms at their Bedfordshire seat, Luton Hoo. Sir Harold was the son of Sir Julius Wernher 1st Bt. (1850-1912), whose fortune made in the gold and diamond mines of South Africa enabled him to create a magnificent art collection. Sir Harold married Countess Anastasia de Torby, known as Zia, the daughter of Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia and Countess Sophie Merenberg, Countess de Torby, the granddaughter of the famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, author of the poem The Bronze Horseman which gave Falconet's equestrian statue its popular name. The Emperor's Cup descended in the family to their granddaughter Alexandra Anastasia Hamilton, Duchess of Abercorn. 'Sacha', as she was always known to family and friends, was a keen philanthropist and founder of the Pushkin Prize and The Pushkin Trust, named after her ancestor. The Duchess of Abercorn spent much of her childhood in the English countryside, often visiting Luton Hoo, the estate of her grandparents and home to the famous Wernher art collection.

The inscription on the plinth rim reads ‘WON BY CHESTNUT HORSE
THE EMPEROR’.
The inscriptions on the body read, ‘LUDORUM ASCOTIENSIUM MEMOR
/ QUIBUS IPSE INTERFUISSET / REGINAE VICTORIAE / HOSPES
/ MENS IUN MDCCCXLIV / SOLENNE CERTAMINIS EQUESTRIS
PRAEMIUM / INSTITUIT / NICOLAUS / TOTIUS RUSSIAE
IMPERATOR’ (‘In memory of the Ascot races which he himself attended as
a guest of Queen Victoria in the month of June 1844, Nicholas, Emperor of
All Russia, institutes an annual prize for an equestrian contest’).
The inscription on the rockwork base reads, ‘‘PETRO PRIMO /
CATHARINA SECUNDA / MDCCLXXXII’ and ‘????? ??????? /
???????? ?????? / ???? 1782’.
;

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