Issue 33 web - Flipbook - Page 47
Polesden Lacey is home to the largest group of Fabergé
objects in the National Trust, and possibly in any country
house collection in the UK. Research for the exhibition
confirmed that four Fabergé-attributed objects were indeed by the jeweller, and the discovery of scratched and
stamped numbers on a further object – a Jasper study of
an owl on a perch – revealed for the first time that it too
was by Fabergé.
Befitting this year’s Platinum Jubilee the exhibition will
display a number of objects with royal links, including a
tortoiseshell, shagreen and mother of pearl snuff box
gifted to Mrs Greville by King Edward VII and a ruby and
diamond brooch worn to his coronation. Edward VII was
the guest of honour at Mrs Greville’s first house party in
1909 and is said to have commented that her ‘gift for
hospitality’ amounted to a ‘positive genius’.
The greatest goldsmith of his generation, Peter Carl
Fabergé opened a shop in London in 1903. The joyful
opulence of the objets de fantaisie he created entranced
the British royal family and their courtiers and Mrs
Greville made purchases there no fewer than 31 times.
With her seemingly unlimited wealth, Mrs Greville
collected works which were the height of fashion, particularly ceramics and silver. Important ceramics on show
include a pair of pottery horse heads from early Imperial
China (circa 3rd-7th centuries AD), alongside pieces by
Meissen, rare Renaissance maiolica birds, and Mrs
Greville’s treasured Staffordshire porcelain tulips.
The Trust’s honorary adviser on jewellery and Fabergé,
John Benjamin, known to many from his appearances on
the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow said: “Polesden Lacey’s
highly evocative collection of Fabergé animal studies and
jewelled ornaments provides the perfect lightning conductor to an era now long gone, when discerning customers such as Mrs Greville had ample means and
opportunity to acquire beautiful objets de fantaisie such
as these, notable for their virtuosity, wit and effortless
She was known to be very proud of the rare silver in her
collection, which included English silver objects chased
(decorated with linear patterns made with a punch and
hammer) in an imitation Asian style. Many such objects
have since proved to be fakes but Mrs Greville’s chinoiserie footed salver is a rare and important exception. New
research has enabled the Trust to attribute makers to most
of the silver pieces for the first time.
Above, Collections & House Officer Naomi Kulasingham and Assistant Curator Richard Ashbourne hang a portrait of Mrs David Garrick,
depicted in a masquerade costume. Photograph courtesy National Trust Images, James Dobson.
Conservation & Heritage Journal