A late 18th century Russian gold and enamelled Imperial presentation portrait box by Pierre Theremin, St Petersburg 1799, the miniature by Franz Gerhard von Kuegelgen (1772-1820)

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Lot 135Y Ф
A late 18th century Russian gold and enamelled Imperial presentation portrait box
by Pierre Theremin, St Petersburg 1799, the miniature by Franz Gerhard von Kuegelgen (1772-1820)

Sold for £ 31,250 (US$ 39,137) inc. premium
A late 18th century Russian gold and enamelled Imperial presentation portrait box
by Pierre Theremin, St Petersburg 1799, the miniature by Franz Gerhard von Kuegelgen (1772-1820)
Circular, the cover set with a portrait miniature of Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich, later Tsar Alexander I, with gold-embroidered red collar, wearing the blue moiré sash and breast star of the Russian Order of St. Andrew, glazed with a gold frame, on a navy blue guilloché enamel ground within a champlevé enamel border of alternating fleurs de lys and demi-paterae, the side with a similar alternating upper band above blue guilloche enamel with white stringing, diameter 9.5cm, weight all-in 229gms.

Footnotes

  • Provenance:

    Purchased from Gerald, 7th Duke of Wellington, in 1964 and thence by descent. Correspondence, in the Duke's hand, sold with the lot states that the box was left to the Duke by Louis Clarke (1881-1960), Fellow of Trinity Hall Cambridge and Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum (1937-46).

    Wellington mentions that he already had two other gold boxes that he thought were given to his great-grandfather, by Tsar Alexander I, though it is not clear when this happened. The Tsar came to London after the first victory over Napoleon in June 1814 but the box (now kept at Apsley House) by Otto Samuel Keibel, shows the Tsar in his thirties and losing his hair. For a box showing the Tsar at a similar age to the present lot, one can compare another box by Keibel that was given to Lord Granville Leveson Gower (1773-1825) in 1801 or 1804/5, see cat 54, Charles Truman The Gilbert Collection of Gold Boxes Vol II (London 1991).

    Pierre Theremin settled in St Petersburg in 1793 and was alderman of the Foreigner's Guild from 1800 to 1801 and, in that year he delivered four gold boxes to the Court Office for 1,580 roubles. By 1802, Theremin had left for Geneva where he spent the rest of his life, see Alexander von Solodkov, Russian Gold and Silver (London 1981). It is interesting to compare the present lot to another box by Theremin of the same date, still held by State Hermitage Collection (see illustration); though the portrait is a relief cameo it is clearly of the youthful Grand Duke. Further, they have remarkably similar borders and enamelling and may have been made as a contrasting/complimentary pair.

    Franz Gerhard von Kuegelgen (1772-1820) was born in Germany but a bursary from the Elector of Cologne allowed him to travel, first to Italy between 1791 and 1795, and later to Russia where he stayed in St. Petersburg until 1798. Here, Kuegelgen received notable success at the Russian court and Schidlof notes that at this time he was commissioned to paint a miniature of the Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich, later Tzar Alexander I, Schidlof Miniature in Europe vol I (Graz 1964), p.450.
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A late 18th century Russian gold and enamelled Imperial presentation portrait box by Pierre Theremin, St Petersburg 1799, the miniature by Franz Gerhard von Kuegelgen (1772-1820)
A late 18th century Russian gold and enamelled Imperial presentation portrait box by Pierre Theremin, St Petersburg 1799, the miniature by Franz Gerhard von Kuegelgen (1772-1820)
A late 18th century Russian gold and enamelled Imperial presentation portrait box by Pierre Theremin, St Petersburg 1799, the miniature by Franz Gerhard von Kuegelgen (1772-1820)
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Lot symbols
Ф Item contains or is made of ivory

This lot contains or is made of ivory. The United States Government has banned the import of ivory into the USA.

Y CITES

Subject to CITES regulations when exporting items outside of the EU, see clause 13.