XQG 2002 283
XQG 2005 Treas
Gold hinged box chased with pastoral scenes, set with enamel miniature of Frederick, Prince of Wales; facing in profile to the left; wearing armour, white neckcloth and cravat, ribbon and star of the Garter; blue eyes, long white wig, plain grey background
This exceptional box, perhaps the finest of its kind, was given to Francis, Lord North (1704-90), when he was appointed governor to the 11-year-old Prince George of Wales (later George III) in 1749.
The thumb piece is chased with the North crest below a coronet; an enamel portrait of Prince George's father Frederick, Prince of Wales, by Christian Frederick Zincke (1683/4-1767) is set inside the lid and the Prince of Wales's initials, feathers and motto are chased on the arched top. Pastoral allegories on the lid and base depict scenes of sowing and the harvest - perhaps a symbolic tribute to the governor's role in ploughing the ground in preparation for a rich harvest. The symbolism continues with the peacock and pelican (above the motto Non Sibi Sed Suis) on the lid, the piety of the pelican contrasting with the vanity of the peacock.
Lord North's position as governor or Preceptor to Prince Frederick's sons was a lucrative appointment. His duties were 'to go about with Prince George and appear with him in public', for which he received £1,000 a year in addition to the £500 salary he already received as a Lord of the Bedchamber to the Prince of Wales. The importance and responsibility of North's task is reflected in the superb quality of the box. Lord North was replaced by Lord Harcourt in 1751, following Prince Frederick's death and Prince George's sudden elevation to the position of heir apparent.
This item belongs to a small group of finely chased English gold boxes supplied to Frederick, Prince of Wales, in the 1740s. It is probably the work of one of the immigrant Germans who dominated the London gold-chasing world during the mid-eighteenth century.
The enamel miniature of the Prince of Wales is dated by Walker to c.1742 and described as 'an exceptionally fine example of Zincke's art'. Christian Frederick Zincke was appointed Cabinet Painter to Prince Frederick in 1732 and both the Prince and the Princess of Wales formed large collections of his work.
Catalogue entry from Royal Treasures, A Golden Jubilee Celebration, London 2002