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The Art of Monarchy

A collaboration with BBC Radio 4 to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

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Silver table c. 1670

RCIN 35299

Queen's Gallery, Windsor Castle

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Silver furniture was perhaps the most costly form of furnishing in the second half of the 17th century, when the fashion for such lavish objects was at its height. At Versailles, Louis XIV had developed the fashion for silver furnishings and his 1st cousin, Charles II wished to emulate him, as did all the powerful courts of Europe. This table with its (possibly) matching tripod stands and mirror belong to a moment of extreme richness and grandeur at European Courts. A fashion in England led particularly by women: the King’s and Queen’s private apartments at Whitehall while spectacular, were surpassed in richness by those of the Duchess of Portsmouth, the King’s mistress, in their quantities of glittering silver furniture. John Evelyn wrote that the Duchess’s apartments at Whitehall displayed ‘ten times the richness and glory beyond the Queenes’. During the reign of James II, in1685/6 this table, described as ‘on 4 twisted pieces’ was at Whitehall, and was sent to be enlarged. James II & Mary of Modena (who had lived at Versailles) were devotees of this rich style of furnishing.