Earlier this summer we marveled at a golden soup tureen from 18th c. France. It seems only fair that we show you how the English aristocracy had their soup brought to table.
This gorgeous tureen and stand was made of silver – a great deal of silver, for it's a very large tureen – around 1824. Wealthy Englishmen of the period liked a glittering display of silver on their dining table, and vied with one another for the biggest, most ornate candlesticks, centerpieces, and serving dishes. The tureen is almost alive with marine motifs, including dolphins, lobsters, and shells, a mermaid on one side and merman on the other. While this would make it perfect for serving lobster bisque, more likely the designs would have been considered patriotic for an island nation that was justly proud of its navy.
The tureen was made for Fletcher Norton, 3rd Baron Grantley (1796-1875). A veteran of the Battle of Waterloo, Lord Grantley never married, but if this tureen was any indication, he set a lavish bachelor table. He also must have believed in patronizing the best silversmiths in London. This masterpiece is the work of Robert Garrard, Jr., of Garrard & Company, whose family's shop in Panton Street catered to the highest ranks of fashionable society, including the Royal Princes. Twenty years after this tureen was made, the young Queen Victoria appointed Garrard & Company as the Crown Jewelers – which in turn must have made the baron value his fabulous tureen even more.
Above: Silver tureen and stand made by Robert Garrard, Jr., London, England, 1824-25. Winterthur Museum
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.