Henri Auguste (1759-1816)
Tureen and stand
40.0 x 48.0 x 48.0 cm
Made for Tommaso Somma, Marchese di Circello, 1787; sold Christies, London, 11 November 1801, lot 38; purchased by Rundell, Bridge and Rundell (ú148 3s); by whom sold to George III
This magnificent French tureen and stand is one of a pair acquired by George III in 1801. They originally formed part of the ambassadorial plate of Tommaso Somma, Marchese di Circello (1737-1826), who was appointed Ambassador to the French Court by Ferdinand IV (d. 1825), King of Naples, in 1787. It is tempting to suggest that the service may even have been a gift from Louis XVI to the Marchese. In 1795 it was brought to London when Circello was appointed Ambassador to the Court of St James. Described as a remarkable Elegant Sideboard of the most Fashionable PLATE, the service was sold at Christies on 11 November 1801, following the Marcheses return to Naples. This tureen formed part of a set of four acquired by Rundell, Bridge and Rundell. Two of the set were subsequently sold to George III when the applied arms of Queen Charlotte were added. The two other tureens were purchased by Lord MacDonald of Sleat, Lord Chief Baron of George IIIs Exchequer.
The tureens bear the mark of the Parisian goldsmith Henri Auguste, goldsmith to Louis XVI and son of the pre-eminent French goldsmith Robert-Joseph Auguste. Robert-Joseph had been commissioned by George III to supply a large neo-classical dining service for use in his Hanoverian palaces; much of that service is now in the Rothschild Collection, Waddesdon Manor. Henri Auguste took over his fathers workshop in 1785 and supplied large quantities of plate to the French court in the years prior to the French Revolution. Like his father, he was one the chief exponents of the neo-classical style in French silver. After the Revolution he worked for Napoleon, although he was declared bankrupt in 1806 and fled to England in 1809. He died in Jamaica in 1816.
Struck with Paris hallmarks for 1787 and maker’s mark of Henri Auguste
Catalogue entry adapted from George III & Queen Charlotte: Patronage, Collecting and Court Taste, London, 2004