Silver Wellington to be auction centrepiece

A fine silver presentation centrepiece modelled as Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, upon his horse Copenhagen, has beaten its estimate in a recent sale at Somerset auction house, Lawrences in Crewkerne.

The Duke of Wellington is depicted in his distinctive bicorne hat and holding a telescope. The work was made by Edmund Cotterill for R & S Garrard & Co in London in 1839 who were to become Crown Jewellers in 1843.

The piece had been presented to Joseph Ruscombe Poole in 1839 by the Conservatives of West Somerset. This was an appropriate gift as Wellington had served two brief terms as Conservative Prime Minister between 1828 and 1834. The centrepiece came to auction at Lawrences by direct descent in the Poole family.

Edmund Cotterill specialised in sculptural groups in bronze and silver for Garrards. The Illustrated London News extolled his merits by observing that he ‘stood at the head of the class of artists who model for silversmiths and his productions have earned that house a celebrity which no other can equal‘.

Wellington’s distinctive profile was captured with a calm determination and the detail throughout the piece was remarkable: the meticulous care required to work in silver in order to create the harness and stirrups had been accomplished with aplomb. It was certainly eye-catching, measuring almost 65cm (25.5”) high upon its base and weighing about 159 ounces.

The combination of Garrards’ illustrious name, Cotterill’s remarkable skills, Wellington’s high renown, unbroken provenance and superb condition proved irresistible to bidders. Eager competition lifted it beyond its £3000 estimate to £32,500