Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
This ewer and basin belonged to the 'Winter Queen', Elizabeth of Bohemia (1596-1662), whose arms are engraved in the centre of the basin. Elizabeth, daughter of James VI and I and grandmother of George I, linked the Stuart and Hanoverian dynasties and all British monarchs since George I are directly descended from her. George IV's fascination with the Stuarts probably led him to acquire this ewer and basin in 1816. He had the basin engraved with inscriptions explaining the genealogical importance of Elizabeth in the Hanoverian succession to the British throne. The romantic tragedy of the Winter Queen's life may also have appealed to George IV.
This ewer and basin are the only known surviving items of plate attributed to Hans Jacobsz. Wesson, a goldsmith in The Hague, where the exiled Bohemian court found refuge after 1620 and lived for many years in impoverished grandeur. The pieces are early examples of the emphasis on form rather than decoration, characteristic of Dutch silver of the 1640s. George IV erroneously believed that the basin was in the form of the Tudor Rose; the continuous inventory of plate at Carlton House recorded its arrival as 'a large and curious gilt Salver of White and Red Rose & a Ewer' on 2 January 1817.
They are unlikely to have stayed in the exiled Queen's possession for any considerable time. Until 1642 the Queen received a regular if somewhat meagre pension from her brother, Charles I. Following the outbreak of the English Civil War this ceased and she was forced to pawn much of her property. She also handed over many of her finest remaining possessions to her son Charles Louis (1617-80) in return for money, food and fuel.
Hallmarks for The Hague, 1640, and maker's mark attributed to Hans Jacobsz. Wesson
Catalogue entry from Royal Treasures, A Golden Jubilee Celebration, London 2002
Netherlands (place of production)
England (place of production)