This service, perhaps the
last French royal service to remain in private hands, was sold by us on behalf of a private collector to a Rothschild
family trust. It is now on permanent show at Waddesdon Manor,
the sumptuous Rothschild house in Buckinghamshire, in an exciting installation in a French eighteenth-century rococo panelled room.
Purchased by King George III in the 1780s, the service is by the celebrated French royal goldsmith Robert-Joseph Auguste
(1723-1805). Intended for use in the kings German dominion, Hanover, the service was added to shortly afterwards by
the Court Goldsmith there, Franz Peter Bunsen (c. 1725-1795). Stands and dishes for some of the covers were added by Franz
Anton Hans Nübell in the 1820s. Most of the pieces are engraved with George IIIs cipher and Royal Crown.
Stylistically, the service represents the refined form of classicism for which Auguste is renowned, and should be compared with
those services supplied by him for Count von Creutz of Sweden and for Catherine the Great of Russia.
Yves Carlier, writing of the George III service in the catalogue to the exhibition Versailles et les tables
royales en Europe in 1993, describes it thus: [sa] célébrité tient à la fois à la
provenance, à la qualité irréprochable de la ciselure, à la réussite stylistique
alliant la grâce du style Louis XVI à la pureté de néoclassicisme, et à la
notoriété de lorfèvre layant réalisé: Robert-Joseph Auguste.
The George III service remained at Hanover and was used at Herrenhausen, the royal summer palace just outside the city, or in the
Leineschloss, the ancient castle on the banks of the Leine in Hanover, and descended, after the separation of the two
kingdoms, to King George V of Hanover. He was deposed during the Seven Weeks War in 1866. The Prussian troops sacked
Herrenhausen but failed to find the royal dinner service which had been hidden in a vault in the grounds and covered
with lime and debris.
The royal family, who subsequently used the title Duke of Brunswick and lived at Gmunden in Austria, sold the service
in 1924 to the Vienna dealer Glückselig. Shortly afterwards, it was divided into two parts. One part was acquired by
Claude Cartier and sold by his heirs at Sothebys, Monaco, in 1979. The other portion was acquired by Alphonse de
Rothschild. A portion of this was donated by his descendants to the Louvre in 1975, while the remaining portion, sold by
the heirs of Alphonse de Rothschild in 1982, is the service recently sold by us.