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The beauty and symbolism of gold, from the Early Bronze Age to the 20th century

James Garrard

Ascot Gold Cup, 1897 hallmark 1897/8

Gold, ebonised wood | 42.7 x 35.0 x 35.0 cm (whole object) | RCIN 50272

A gold racing trophy in the form of the Warwick Vase. The bowl has an egg and dart rim and two bifurcated vine stem handles, and is embossed on each side with masks of Hercules and Bacchus and two satyrs with the pelt of the Nemean lion below, on a circular spreading foot, and ebonised wooden pedestal base. The trophy is a copy of the Warwick Vase, a colossal antique marble vase, dating from the 2nd century AD, which was found in fragments in 1770 at Hadrian's Villa near Rome, and was acquired by Sir William Hamilton. Hamilton sold the vase to the Earl of Warwick who set it up in the grounds of Warwick Castle. The vase was engraved by Piranesi and the engravings inspired numerous copies, although it was rarely reproduced in gold like this cup.

Gold has traditionally been associated with sporting glory and the Ascot Gold Cup has been one of the most prestigious prizes in flat racing since 1807.  Persimmon's victory was celebrated with scenes of 'loyal enthusiasm'.

Catalogue entry from "Gold", London, 2014.