German Silver Monteith Bowl with English Provenance
The large round monteith bowl rests on four cast lion’s feet. The body is decorated with régence ornament, masks, strapwork, lambrequins and cartouches on a stippled ground. At each end there is applied a grotesque mask suspending a pendant ring handle. Slightly drawn in, there is a high, moderately outwardly curved, eight-fold cut-out edge, which rises above it. The shield-shaped sections show – under a baldachin-like roof – an elaborated lunar deity, most probably the goddess Diana/Artemis or Selene. The two middle lobes are decorated with the alliance crest of General John William Egerton, 7th Earl of Bridgewater (1753-1823), and his wife, Charlotte Catherine Anne.
The bottom inside is engraved with the following: „GEORGE LEVESON GOWER FROM ADELBERT EARL BROWNLOW“.
General John William Egerton, 7th Earl of Bridgewater (1753-1823); Francis Henry Egerton, 8th Earl of Bridgewater (1756-1829); Brother John Hume Cust, Viscount Alford (1812-1851); Great-nephew John William Spencer Brownlow Egerton Cust (1842-1867), 2nd Earl Brownlow; Son Sir Adelbert Wellington Brownlow Cust, 3rd Earl Brownlow (1844-1921); George Leveson Gower (1858-1951).
The alliance crest belongs to General John William Egerton, 7th Earl of Bridgewater (1753-1823), and his wife, Charlotte Catherin Anne, daughter of Samuel Haynes. He took the title when his first cousin passed away. When William Egerton died, the title passed to his unmarried brother Francis Henry Egerton (1756-1829).
The 8th Earl was a noted eccentric, he was famous for giving dinner parties for dogs, dressed in the latest fashion, and for wearing a new pair of shoes each day and placing the worn ones in a row to track the passage of time. The 8th Earl donated an important collection of manuscripts to the British Library and established the Egerton Fonds, which allowed the acquisition of 3.800 additional manuscripts.
The estate was inherited by his great nephew, John Hume Cust, Viscount Alford, Son of Amelia Sophia Hume (niece of the 7th and 8th Earl) and Sir John Cust, 1st Earl Brownlow.
In 1898, Sir Adelbert Wellington Brownslow Cust, 3rd Earl Brownslow (1844-1921) gave the monteith to George Granville Leveson-Gower (1858-1951) as a wedding present (see engraving). The two men were related by the Earls of Bridgewater.
Monteith Bowls (Glass coolers )
In the eighteenth century, some drinks were drunk only cooled, so the glasses had to be tempered. For this, special vessels, the monteith bowls, were filled with ice water. The incised edge made it possible to adjust the glasses, so that the cup could be cooled down in the cold water.
The shape of the glass-cooler became common in the last quarter of the seventeenth century. The name of the vessel as “monteith” derives from a Scottish nobleman and is mentioned for the first time in 1683.
Glass-coolers made of silver are very rare today. Due to the intrinsic value of silver, they were as vessels with a high silver content quite quickly melted down, when the need to make money (e.g. during war) was pressing.
Early examples from England are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum, New York and of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Glass-coolers were made of other materials later in the eighteenth century, especially of porcelain. These are much more common today.
The first silversmith in the Family Gelb was Melchior I Gelb, who was born around 1581 in Ulm. He began his apprenticeship with Hans IV Pfleger in Augsburg. Around 1614 he became master maker. The creative period of the family members Matthias I, Melchior I and Johann Caspar III Gelb began in the early seventeenth century and continued into the eighteenth century.
Karl Hernmarck: Die Kunst der europäischen Gold- und Silberschmiede von 1450-1830, München 1978.
Helmut Seling: Die Augsburger Gold- und Silberschmiede 1529 – 1868. Meister Marken Werke, München 1980 und 2007.
Klaus Pechstein et al. (Hg): Schätze deutscher Goldschmiedekunst. Vom 15. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert aus dem Germanischen Nationalmuseum, Berlin 1987.
Hans Ottomeyer (Hg): Die öffentliche Tafel. Tafelzeremoniell in Europa 1300 – 1900. Begleitband zur Ausstellung. Wolfratshausen 2002.
Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Edel gekühlt in Silber (last visited: 14.11.2018).