IMPERIAL PRESENTATION: A PAIR OF VICTORIAN SILVER DWARF CANDLESTICKS, HAWKSWORTH, EYRE & CO. LTD., SHEFFIELD, 1888
the circular bases with engraved presentation inscription below a band of swirl fluting, knops and vase shaped sconces with further swirl fluting, complete with detachable nozzles, with beaded borders throughout
9.5cm high, loaded
The inscription reads: Esther Ayliff, the Gift of Her Majesty the Empress Eugenie, Farnborough, 16th. June 1892.
Provenance: the Empress Eugenie, presented by her to Esther Ayliff, thence by direct family descent.
Esther Ayliff (1834-1900) was born in Cape Colony, South Africa, the daughter of the Rev. John Ayliff, a Wesleyan Minister and one of the 1820 settlers. In 1880, sailing from Cape Town to England, Esther saw a lady sitting dejectedly alone. When asked why she was so sad, the lady explained that she had been to see the place where her only child had died. This was Eugénie de Montijo, the last Empress Consort of France, wife of Napoleon III and mother of the Prince Imperial Louis Napoleon. Following the collapse of the Second Empire, the family had taken permanent refuge in England. Her husband died in 1873, to be followed by her son on 1 June 1879. Seeing active service for the first time during the Anglo-Zulu war, Louis Napoleon had led a small sortie from camp, to be ambushed by some forty Zulu. As writes Lucinda Lambton 'The Prince Imperial's death, extinguishing the final embers of hope for the return of the French Empire, had sent shockwaves throughout Europe. He had always determined to fight in the field and it was thanks to the efforts of ''two obstinate old women,'' as Disraeli described the Queen [Victoria] and the Empress, that he was to participate in the Anglo-Zulu War. His end was a grim one, done to death by 17 plunges of assegais - the mark of one through his eye is to be seen on his death mask.' (Lucinda Lambton, The Oldie, September 2018, issue 365, pp.88/89) Following their shipboard meeting, Esther Ayliff became the Empress's companion for several years, Eugénie presenting Esther with these candlesticks on Esther's return to South Africa in 1892.
See lot 396 for an item which belonged to Esther's brother, Jonathan Ayliff.
£200 - 300 Click here for details of BP and other fees payable on this lot.