This set of dinner plates form part of an extensive service of plate commissioned by the 12th Earl of Pembroke from Paul Storr between 1827 and 1837. Perhaps the most impressive piece from the service is the fantastical candelabrum surmounted by the Pembroke gryphon measuring over 40 inches high made for the Earl in 1835 and now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, part of the Robert L. Joseph bequest in 1959. Other pieces from the service include a well and tree meat-dish, (see above and Christie's New York, 14 April 1994, lot 311); a pair of sauceboats, (Christie's New York, 27 October 1992, lot 203) and a cruet stand (op cit, 1992, lot 204).
Robert Henry Herbert, 12th Earl of Pembroke and 9th Earl of Montgomery, was born in 1791. He married in 1814 in the Butera Palace, Palermo, Ottavia Spinelli, newly widowed wife of the Prince of Butera and daughter of the Duke of Laurino. Before the death of the Prince, the young Lord Herbert had been the Princess's cavaliere servente. His father attempted to have the marriage dissolved without success but succeeded in persuading the Sicilian authorites to separate the parties. Accordingly Lord Herbert was imprisoned in a fortress and his wife in a convent. Herbert managed to escape, however, to Genoa and returned to England where his father persuaded him to abandon the Princess. A suite for restitution of conjugal rights was brought by her in the English courts in 1819 and she was awarded £800 per annum, which it is said was later increased to £5,000, but Lord Herbert and the Princess never came together again (Phillimore, Cases in Ecclesiastical Courts, vol. III, pp. 58-66).
Herbert succeeded on the death of his father in 1827 and took his seat in the House of Lords in 1833. In 1837 he was living in Paris, where Lord Malmesbury wrote of him, 'Lord Pembroke lives in great state in Paris, and is as famous for his cook as for his horses. He is a very handsome man' (Malmesbury, Memoirs of an ex-Minister, vol. I, p. 78).