Charles, 8th Baron Kinnaird of Inchture (1780–1826)
Charles, 8th Baron Kinnaird of Inchture (1780–1826) was the eldest surviving son of George, 7th Baron Kinnaird (d.1805) and his wife Elizabeth, only daughter of Griffin Ransom, a banker of Westminster. He was well read, having studied first at Eton and then later at the Universities of Edinburgh, Trinity College, Cambridge and Glasgow as well as in Geneva, being admitted to Lincoln’s Inn in 1799. He sat in the House of Commons as M.P. for Leominster in 1802, a seat he probably obtained due to his fathers connections. On the death of his father in 1805 he succeeded the title sat as Scottish representative peer in 1806 to June 1807. He married Olivia Letitia Catherine Fitzgerald (1787–1858), the youngest daughter of the William, 2nd Duke of Leinster, in 1806. They had three sons and two daughters.
Kinnaird would seem to have always been interested in the latest fashions, working for example with the architect William Atkinson on Rossie Priory in the Regency Gothic style, which was begun in 1807. He was also interested as a collector in furnishing Rossie and his London home, spending time travelling the continent buying working of art dispersed during the Napoleonic wars. The collection he amassed included Old Master pictures by artists such as Titian, Poussin, Teniers, and Rubens as well as important Greek, Roman, and Egyptian sculptures. Such was his spending that by 1813 he was forced to sell his London possessions and consolidate the collections at Rossie Priory.
Whilst the lack of an engraved coat-of-arms means it is not possible to be certain the pair of wine-coolers were made for Charles 8th Baron Kinnaird we do know that they were sold by the same vendor as a candelabrum centrepiece as the Property of a Gentleman, Sotheby’s, London, 17 October 1968. The candelabrum centrepiece is one of only four known examples, all marked by Philip Cornman after a design of Charles Heathcote Tatham, and is engraved with the arms of Charles, 8th Baron Kinnaird and his wife Lady Olivia-Letitia-Catherine-Fitzgerald, it was subsequently sold from a Distinguished Private Collection, Christie’s, London, 12 June 2006, lot 89.
The Design of the Wine-Coolers
Like the centrepiece the design of the present wine-coolers is an amalgam of Roman antiquity and the art of ancient Egypt as interpreted by the designers of the Regency period. They are a considered combination of two celebrated Roman vases with the overall form of the upper body based on the Medici Vase, AD 50-100, now in the Sala della Niobe, the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. It entered the collection of the Villa Medici in Rome by 1598 and was first engraved by Stefano della Bella in the 17th century and later by Piranesi in his Vasi, pl. 109 and 110. The ornamental Dionysian frieze is taken from the Borghese Vase, which was originally discovered during excavations in Italy in the 16th century. The vase was later transferred to the Villa Borghese in Rome and purchased from the family by the Emperor Napoleon in 1807 for the Louvre, where it remains. These forms are paired with a stem formed by four Egyptian sphinx with rams' masks. The Egyptian style, as favoured in Regency England, was inspired by the archaeological discoveries made during Napoleon's campaigns in Egypt of 1798 which were recorded by Baron Vivant Denon in his Voyage dans la Basse et la Haute Egypte, published in London in 1802. One of Napoleon's central purposes in promoting the study of Egypt's monuments was to enlarge his own glory, reflected in the ancient grandeur of Egypt. Thus in England, following Napoleon's defeats in Egypt in 1798 and at Trafalgar in 1805, the Egyptian style became a patriotic celebration of Nelson's famous victories, particularly among patrons such as the Prince of Wales and his immediate circle. The vogue for Egypt played an important role in all aspects of art, architecture and the decorative arts and was disseminated through design books published by such influential figures as Charles Percier and Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine in France, and Thomas Hope and George Smith in England. It is therefore no surprise that a set of eight wine coolers (see E. A. Jones, The Gold and Silver of Windsor Castle, London, 1911, pp. 112-3, pl. LVII), identical to the present lot were commissioned by the Prince Regent for his Grand Service which included several other pieces in the Egyptian style (see G. de Bellaigue et al., Carlton House: The Past Glories of George IV's Palace, exhibition catalogue, London, 1991, cats. 85, 91 and 92).