A GERMAN SILVER CRUET STAND FROM THE GEORGE III SERVICE

Details
A GERMAN SILVER CRUET STAND FROM THE GEORGE III SERVICE
MAKER'S MARK OF FRANTZ PETER BUNSEN, HANOVER, CIRCA 1790

After a model by Robert-Joseph Auguste, oblong, on two foliate-clad scroll feet and two double hoof feet, the rim with a laurel band and two cast ram's heads, the border fluted and with paterae, with a beaded band, the two detachable bottle holders with four columns supporting garlands with a laurel rim above, the two cap holders with fluting, the two faceted crystal bottles with removable silver caps each with laurel band, a calyx of leaves and a pinecone finial, the base, bottle holders and bottle caps each engraved with the cypher GR III and Royal crown, marked under base and on two bottle holders also with French control marks
12½in. (31.8cm.) long
(68oz., 2121gr.)
Provenance
The cypher is that of George III, King of England and Elector of Hanover; thence by descent to:
Ernest Augustus, son of above, Duke of Cumberland, and King of Hanover from 1837 to 1851
George Frederick, son of above, King of Hanover, deposed in the Seven Weeks' War in 1866; thence by descent through the family as the Dukes of Brunswick
Sold privately in 1924

Lot Essay

The present cruet stand belongs to George III's extensive silver dinner service used by the Hanoverian court at the palace of Herrenhausen. The majority of pieces were made by the celebrated Parisian goldsmith, Robert-Joseph Auguste, from 1776 to 1785. Once in Hanover, the service was expanded, and the royal goldsmiths there added pieces based on Auguste's designs. A pair of French cruet stands of 1776 which match the present example, along with twenty-three other pieces from the service, are now in the Louvre and are illustrated in Versailles et les Tables Royales en Europe, 1993, fig. 266, p. 331 and color plate, p. 107. Both the French pair and the present German example with its mate are described in the 1923 inventory of the silver of the Dukes of Brunswick, formerly at Herrenhausen: "4 Porte-huilliers zu Essig-u. Oel-Caraffinen Gravierung G.R. III 2 Paris 2 Hannov." A pair of Hanover sauceboats and stands also from this service recently appeared in the London trade, and are illustrated and discussed by Timothy Schroder in Silver at Partridge, October 1994, cat. no. 22, pp. 32-33. A set of four candlesticks, also by Bunsen, is in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection (see Muller, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: European Silver, London, 1986).

Although George III never visited his German possessions, the palace at Herrenhausen was well maintained for ceremonies of state held there. It is not known if George III commissioned the present service directly from Auguste, but the fact that it was made over a ten-year period would suggest that George III may have acquired the service after it was completed, possibly just after the French Revolution when many such services came on to the market. Indeed, Timothy Schroder notes that stylistically "the service was comparatively conservative by the time that it was supplied to George III" (op. cit., p. 32). Moreover, if it had been ordered specially for the court at Herrenhausen, it would presumably have been large enough for court functions from the outset, and would not have required the substantial number of Hanoverian additions. The fact that George III's engraved cypher on both the French and the German pieces is in a consistent German style would support this theory. The design of two other French dinner services is similar to the George III service, both dating from the 1770s: the service made in 1775-6 for Count Creutz, now in the Royal Palace, Stockholm, and the one made for Catherine the Great between 1776 and 1778 now in the Kremlin, Moscow.

George III was well represented in Hanover by his sons; the Duke of Kent lived there for several years, followed by the Duke of Cambridge who was officially appointed Governor-General of Hanover in 1813. George IV visited Hanover once during his reign and appears to have been content to leave his brother, the Duke of Cambridge, in charge there. When William IV succeeded in 1830 he set about making him Viceroy, which post the Duke held until 1837. In that year, on the death of William IV, the young Princess Victoria, who was daughter of William's younger brother, the Duke of Kent, became Queen of England. However, under Salic law, a woman could not ascend the throne of Hanover, and the crown passed to the eldest surviving son of George III, the Duke of Cumberland. Thus the thrones of England and Hanover were split after 124 years. On the death of the Duke of Cumberland in 1851, the throne of Hanover passed to his son George Frederick who was deposed in the Seven Weeks' War in 1866. Miraculously the royal plate was saved from destruction when the Prussian troops sacked Herrenhausen, having been hidden in a vault in the grounds covered with lime and debris. The family, deprived of the title of Kings of Hanover, were henceforth known as Dukes of Brunswick and lived at Gmunden in Austria. In 1924 a significant portion of the Hanoverian plate was offered for sale privately, and the French and German dinner service of George III was purchased by the Vienna dealer Gluckselig. Much of the English silver was exhibited by Crichton Brothers in London that year, but the disposition of the European silver is not known. In addition to the twenty-three French pieces at the Louvre from the Rothschild collection, twenty pieces from this service, both French and German, were acquired by Louis Cartier, subsequently sold at Sotheby's, Monaco, November 27, 1979, lots 821-840. The present cruet stand, or possibly its mate, without the glass bottles but with the silver stoppers, was in the Cartier auction, lot 823, as were the Partridge sauceboats by Bunsen, lot 830.
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