Louisa, Viscountess Beresford's Toilet-Service
The following three lots form part of a toilet-service made for Louisa, Viscountess Beresford. Louisa was the daughter of William de la Poer Beresford, Archbishop of Tuam and later 1st Baron Decies, and niece of the 1st Marquess of Waterford. A woman of modest means, Louisa's beauty caught the attention of Thomas Hope (c.1770-1831), the celebrated art collector and connoisseur, whom she married in 1806. Thomas Hope was born in Amsterdam into an immensely wealthy and well-connected family. He studied architecture before embarking on an extended Grand Tour, settling in England around 1796. He was perhaps best known in his day as the author of Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, published in 1807. Not only was he a great patron of contemporary artists such as Flaxman and Canova, but he was also a collector of antiquities, buying, for example, the ancient vase collection of Sir William Hamilton. After the death of Hope in 1831, Louisa married, in 1832, William Carr Beresford, 1st Viscount Beresford.
On Louisa's death in 1851, the toilet-service presumably passed to her second son Alexander James Beresford Hope (1820-1887) who married Lady Mildred (1827-1881), daughter of Robert, 2nd Marquess of Salisbury. It would then have been left to their son Philip Beresford Hope J.P. (1851-1900) who married Evelyn, fourth daughter of General Frost of St. Louis in 1883. Their daughter Muriel (d.1961) married Sir George Murray (1880-1947) in 1906. Their eldest son George Iain Murray (1931-1996) succeeded his kinsman as 10th Duke of Atholl in 1957. On his death he bequeathed the toilet-service to his cousin John, 11th Duke of Atholl.
The dressing-table set came into its fashion following the restoration of Charles II as King of England in 1660. The 1660s saw an explosion in the demand for wrought silver as the taxes which had been levied by Oliver Cromwell, to pay for his armies, were lifted, leaving taxpayers with greater disposable income. This led to a demand for silver to replace the plate which had been damaged or melted down during the Commonwealth, as well as a demand for more exuberant objects to replace the somewhat austere plate which typified the plate made in the middle of the 17th century. Silversmiths of the day, both English and later the Huguenots, who settled in England having fled persecution in France and arrived in England via the Low Countries, were happy to meet this demand for objects in the latest continental fashions. The Louisa, Viscountess Beresford service is part of a revival of the form which occurred in the 1820s.