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John Northam (active 1824)

Gold box hallmark 1813-14

RCIN 4046

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Rectangular hinged box. Glazed cover cast in high relief scene of Roman warrior about to defend a man fallen from his horse and attacked by a lion. Sides and border cast and chased with elaborate acanthus scrolls. Bearded mask thumbpiece. The badge of the Garter embossed on the base of this richly decorated box by the London goldsmith John Northam suggests that it was a royal commission. Northam, like James Strachan, frequently supplied gold boxes to the royal goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge & Rundell. This box was perhaps supplied for the Prince Regent, although it has not been identified in any accounts. The most striking feature of the box is the deeply chased relief, depicting an armed warrior and a lion attacking a horse, set into the lid. This is signed by the renowned Strasbourg goldsmith Jacob Friedrich Kirschenstein and was probably executed a few years before the box was made. Kirschenstein, who trained in his father's workshop, specialised in virtuoso high-relief gold-chasing. He was particularly praised for his finely observed animals and later worked in Paris for Charles X. His plaques, which often depict realistically modelled hunting scenes, were exported throughout Europe for incorporation into gold boxes. John Northam registered his mark as a goldworker in 1793. In addition to supplying boxes to Rundells, he acted as an outworker and repairer for Garrard and Wakelin. He appears to have specialised in mounting unusual materials or plaques in his own highly chased gold boxes. A box with similar mounts to this one incorporates two seventeenth-century French miniatures (Gilbert collection). Hallmarks for London, 1813-14, and maker's mark attributed to John Northam; plaque in lid signed Kirstein [sic] / a Strasbourg Catalogue entry from Royal Treasures, A Golden Jubilee Celebration, London 2002