Mir­ror, mir­ror

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

ERCULES and Mer­cury, be­decked in gold, flank an ex­tra­or­di­nary 17th-cen­tury tro­phy mir­ror frame, re­cently dis­cov­ered in Paris and now re­turned to Eng­land, which is the sub­ject of a na­tional cam­paign by the Fitzwilliam Mu­seum. The Cam­bridge in­sti­tu­tion has, so far, and with the help of the Friends’ fund, V&A and other donors, raised 80% of the req­ui­site £345,000 and is ask­ing for help in reach­ing its tar­get by De­cem­ber 31, the end of its bicentennial year.

An ex­quis­ite sur­vivor from the golden age of wood-carv­ing, the mir­ror frame is of gilded lime­wood and bears the arms of naval hero Ad­mi­ral Ed­ward Rus­sell, 1st Earl of Or­ford (1653– 1727), who com­mis­sioned it for his es­tate, Chip­pen­ham Park in Cam­bridgeshire, prob­a­bly to cel­e­brate his vic­to­ries at the bat­tles of Barfleur and La Hogue dur­ing 1692, which se­cured Wil­liam III’S po­si­tion in Eng­land and led to Rus­sell’s el­e­va­tion to First Lord of the Ad­mi­ralty and later earl­dom. A per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of Fame with trum­pets ap­pears be­neath the mir­ror.

‘Even if we didn’t know about the prove­nance of this spec­tac­u­lar tro­phy frame, it would stop traf­fic,’ en­thuses mu­seum di­rec­tor Tim Knox. ‘The frame is re­splen­dent, with its highly so­phis­ti­cated

Hcarv­ing of de­li­cious ma­rine dec­o­ra­tion and the strap­ping fig­ures of Her­cules and Mer­cury. I am de­ter­mined to bring this ex­quis­ite ex­am­ple of crafts­man­ship and English his­tory home to Cam­bridge for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to en­joy and learn from.’

The Rus­sell frame is one in a series of ma­jor ac­qui­si­tions with which the Fitzwilliam hopes to mark the 200th an­niver­sary of its foun­da­tion. In the sum­mer, the mu­seum an­nounced its suc­cess­ful bid in sav­ing the Cas­tle Howard cab­i­nets for the na­tion. Just £70,000 is re­quired to bring this trea­sure back home to East Anglia once and for all. Visit www. fitz­mu­seum.cam.ac.uk for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion and to do­nate.

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