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Friday, 4 July 2014

Arlington Court and the Wimbledon connection

The Enderlein Charger at Arlington Court
The Enderlein Charger at Arlington Court
When I visited Arlington Court last week, I discovered that it has a special connection with the tennis championships at Wimbledon: the ladies’ singles trophy - the Rosewater Dish – was copied from a large pewter dish which is currently on display in the White Drawing Room.

The Enderlein Charger

The pewter dish, sometimes called a charger because it is more than 18 inches in diameter, was cast by Caspar Enderlein of Nuremberg in 1611. It is decorated with figures from classical mythology. The design is not very easy to work out, but the placard next to the charger explained the engravings.

The Enderlein Charger
The Enderlein Charger
In the centre is the goddess of Temperance sitting on a chest with a lamp in her right hand and a jug in her left hand and other objects including a sickle and fork around her. The central part of the dish shows four gods from classical mythology whilst the area around the rim shows the goddess Minerva ruling over the seven liberal arts: Astrology, Geometry, Arithmetic, Music, Rhetoric, Dialectic and Grammar. Miss Chichester bought the charger in the early 20th century as part of her large pewter collection.

The Rosewater Dish

The Rosewater Dish, sometimes called the Venus Rosewater Dish, is a partly gilded sterling silver copy of the pewter charger and was made by Elkington of Birmingham in 1864. The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club bought the silver salver for 50 guineas as the trophy for the new ladies’ championship in 1886. Each year, the ladies' champion receives a miniature version of the salver to keep.

I like the suggestion made on the Arlington Court website that this design was chosen for the ladies’ trophy because the central figure of Sophrosyne, the Greek goddess of moderation, self-control, temperance, restraint, and discretion, represented desirable character traits for Victorian women athletes!

More than one charger

As I was researching this post, I discovered that the relationship between Arlington Court’s charger and the Rosewater Dish is not unique. There are, in fact, several other chargers besides this one. A small number of pieces cast by Enderlein in this or a very similar design have survived including an almost identical one owned by the V&A Museum. (1)

I discovered that the V&A also owns a piece known as the Temperantia Basin made by Francois Briot around 1585. It would seem that the Enderlein chargers were based on this earlier basin by Briot. The V&A website explains that the Enderlein chargers “were not cast from an original but were made from moulds cut as line-for-line copies of the Briot dish”. (2) There are also ceramic copies of the Temperantia Basin, one of which is in the Louvre.

Briot made another, very similar, charger, known as the very Mars dish, which is in the Louvre. According to the V&A website (2), it is Briot's Mars dish which is the basis of the Rosewater Dish rather than the Enderlein Charger. I have not been able to find a picture of Briot's Mars dish to compare it to the Enderlein charger, but as the design on the Enderlein Charger is so similar to that on the Rosewater Dish, I conclude that both were copies of one of Briot's original dishes.

Notes
(1) In the Arlington Court guidebook, there is a picture of another dish - the Nurnberg Temperantia basin - which is not identical to the Enderlein Charger shown above.
(2) From the V&A website.  

Sources used include:
Badcock, Marigold, Gibbons, David and Parker-Williams, Demelza, Arlington Court and the National Trust Carriage Museum, National Trust Guide (2009)

Arlington Court website
V&A website

All photographs © Andrew Knowles - www.flickr.com/photos/dragontomato

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