Lot 8
  • 8

Sigvard Bernadotte for Georg Jensen, Copenhagen

400 - 600 GBP
5,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • The Kronborg Castle Box
  • Georg Jensen's maker's marks and designer's signature, numbered: 712
  • silver
rectangular, reeded sides, the lid engraved with a view of Kronborg Castle, the interior inscribed: 'To Vivien Leigh  / In appreciation of your performance as Ophelia / in the 'Old Vic' production of 'Hamlet'/ at Kronborg Castle, Elsinore, June 1937, / Denmark'


Notley Abbey Inventory, April 1948, p. 19, principal bedroom, ‘A Danish silver flat cigarette box with ribbed border and chased lid, the interior inscribed 4¼ x 3½’, (The Vivien Leigh Archive, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, THM/433/6/1).

Catalogue Note

In June 1937 the Old Vic company took up an invitation to perform Hamlet in the courtyard of the Kronborg Castle in Denmark, immortalized as Elsinore in Shakespeare's play, in celebration of the Silver Jubilee of King Christian X. The cast rehearsed in the evenings because by day the tourists still filed their way through the ancient fortress. It poured with rain non-stop and on the first night it was clear there could be no outdoor performance. The ballroom was therefore converted into an impromptu stage, with 800 basket chairs surrounding the dance floor on which the actors performed. Crown Prince Frederick and his wife Princess Ingrid were guests of honour. Elsinore thronged with royalty and socialites for the occasion, some of whom were flown in by specially-chartered planes, including Lady Juliet Duff and Lady Diana Cooper. The play has since been performed several times in the Castle's courtyard, with Kenneth Branagh in the title role in 1996 and Jude Law in 2009. The actor John Gielgud also played Hamlet there in 1939, for which he received an identical box to the present example, which was sold at Sotheby's, London, 5 April 2001, lot 458.

By the late spring of 1937, Vivien and Larry were already having an affair which was 'an open secret,' even though contemporary manners required them not to show their affection for each other in public. Larry's first wife, Jill Esmond, had come to Denmark too and Larry recalled the pressure of acting with his mistress in the presence of his wife: 'We could not keep from touching each other, making love almost within Jill's vision. This welding closeness tripped the obvious decision and two marriages were severed.' (Vickers, op. cit., p. 89). On their return to England, Vivien and Larry separated from their respective spouses.