AN ENGLISH MOROCCAN RED LEATHER GEM CASE
PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF DR. CORINNE BRONFMAN
AN ENGLISH MOROCCAN RED LEATHER GEM CASE

COMMISSIONED CIRCA 1771

Details
AN ENGLISH MOROCCAN RED LEATHER GEM CASE
COMMISSIONED CIRCA 1771
19 7⁄8 in. (50.4 cm.) long
Provenance
George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough (1739-1817), Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire; thence by descent to his son, George Spencer- Churchill, 5th Duke of Marlborough (1766-1840), Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire; thence by descent to his son, George Spencer-Churchill, 6th Duke of Marlborough (1793–1857), Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire; thence by descent to his son, John Winston Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough (1822-1883), Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire.
David Bromilow (1809-1898), Bitteswell Hall, Leicestershire, acquired from the above; thence by descent to his daughter, Julia Harriet Mary Jary, Bitteswell Hall, Leicestershire.
The Marlborough Gems: A Collection of Works in Cameo and Intaglio Formed by George, Third Duke of Marlborough, Purchased by the Late David Bromilow, Esq., of Bitteswell Hall, Lutterworth, the Property of Mrs. Jary, Christie's, London, 26-29 June 1899, lot 741 or 742 (part).
with Francis E. Whelan (1848-1907), London, acquired from the above (according to auctioneer's book).
M.H. Nevil Story-Maskelyne (1823-1911), Wroughton, Wiltshire; thence by descent to his son-in-law, William Arnold-Forster (1886-1951), Cornwall.
Catalogue of the Story-Maskelyne Collection of Ancient Gems, the Property of W.E. Arnold Forster, Esq., Sotheby's, London, 4-5 July 1921, lot 334.
with Landsberg, acquired from the above (according to auctioneer's book).
Marjorie Bronfman (1917-2012), Montreal, acquired by 1978; gifted to her daughter, Dr. Corinne Bronfman (1947-2022), Washington, D.C.; thence by descent to the current owner.
Literature
D. Scarisbrick, “The Arundel Gem Cabinet,” Apollo, vol. 144, August 1996, p. 46.
J. Boardman, et al., The Marlborough Gems, Formerly at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, London, 2009, pp. 15, 157, ns. 67-68.

Brought to you by

Hannah Fox Solomon
Hannah Fox Solomon Head of Department, Specialist

Lot Essay

As Boardman informs (“The Recording and Sales of the Marlborough Collection,” in Boardman, et al., op. cit., p. 15 and ns. 67 and 68), George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough (1739-1817), commissioned ten Moroccan red leather boxes for his gem collection from Christopher Pinchbeck, who submitted a bill on 8 June 1771. One of these boxes, identical in form to the example presented here, is shown held by the Duke’s son, the Marquess of Blandford, in Sir Joshua Reynolds’ 1778 portrait of the ducal family, which still at Blenheim Palace. The lid of the box presented here is embossed with the letters A I, presumably for Arundel Intaglios. The collection of Thomas Howard, the 2nd Earl of Arundel (1586-1646) remained largely intact until it was gifted to the Duke circa 1765. The Arundel Collection, combined with the Duke’s other acquisitions, is considered the finest private collection of ancient gems ever assembled.

In the 1899 sale of the Marlborough Gems at Christie’s, the auctioneer’s book shows that an additional four lots were added at the end of the auction, their descriptions hand-written, including lots 740, an iron safe; 741, four red leather cases; 742, four ditto; and 743, books on the Marlborough gems. Both 741 and 742 were bought by Francis E. Whelan (1848-1907), who acquired many lots in the sale, either on commission or for stock. He then sold the case presented here to M.H. Nevil Story-Maskelyne, author of the 1870 catalog of the Marlborough Collection. It was sold again in his sale at Sotheby’s in 1921, lot 334 (confirmed by a label affixed to the lid), which was acquired by Landsberg.

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