PROPERTY FROM A ENGLISH COLLECTION
The figures of saytrs were probably modeled by sculptor William Theed II, a member of the Royal Academy. Starting as a modeler in 1804, he oversaw the design studio at Rundell’s, before the addition of Edward Hodges Bailey in 1815. When Rundell’s Dean Street workshop - premises of Storr & Company - was set up in 1807, Storr probably lived in the house at the front of the workshops, and Theed was given the house immediately next door. In 1811, the year of the offered centerpiece, Joseph Farington visited Theed in Dean Street, “he showed me several of his models: Candelabrums for the Prince of Wales & other works and described the great scale on which Rundell & Bridge carry on their works.”
The model for the satyrs may have been a Renaissance bronze. Andrea Riccio (1470-1532), working in Padua, and his followers produced a series of seated figures with legs outstretched, holding pan pipes. Described as shepherds or fauns, examples are in the Louvre, the Ashmolean, the Walters Art Museum, and the Quentin Foundation. Some examples are deliberately finished to emulate ancient Roman bronzes, an additional appeal as Theed, Storr, and Rundell’s worked to recreate Roman grandeur for their aristocratic English clients.
The later inscription reads: ‘Presented to The Rt. Hon. Sir Daniel Dixon Bart. D.L. June. 1904 / Mayor of Belfast, 1892 and Lord Mayor, 1893, 1901, 1902 and 1903 / in Recognition of his able Administration of Office, during those Eventful Periods.’
Sir Daniel Dixon, 1st Bt. of Ballymenock was an Irish businessman and politician. He was born on 28 March 1844, the son of Thomas Dixon of Larne, County Antrim, a timber merchant and shipowner, and his wife, Sarah. He became a partner in his father’s business, Thomas Dixon & Sons in 1864. Having served as Mayor of Belfast in 1892 he went on to be Lord Mayor of that City in 1893 and again from 1901 to 1903. He was created a baronet in October 1903 and from 1905 to 1907 he stood as Member of Parliament for Belfast North as an Ulster Unionist. Dixon died on 10 March 1907 when he was succeeded in the baronetcy by his eldest son, Thomas.
The presentation of this centrepiece, together with a pair of George IV wine coolers and an illuminated address, took place in the Council Chamber of Belfast Town Hall on Monday, 30 May 1904. The Earl of Shaftesbury, Lord Lieutenant of Belfast and Chairman of the Executive Committee for the Daniel Dixon presentation, presided over the proceedings, which was very well attended by a large body of subscribers and well-wishers.
According to a full report of the event in the Belfast News-Letter (Belfast, Tuesday, 31 May 1904, p. 8), the centrepiece, which was ‘just 100 years old [and] probably the handsomest single piece of silverware ever seen in Belfast,’ had been supplied by of the city’s principal retail goldsmiths, Sharman D. Neill of Donegall Place. The report further stated that the ‘three exquisitely-modelled figures’ surrounding the central column of the centrepiece ‘represent Vertumnus, who, in ancient mythologies, was supposed to exert his influence on the growth of the fruit of the earth, and to whom were made votive offerings of fruit and flowers.’ The value of the entire presentation was £1,000.
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