Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Travels Of A Traveller's Triptych

How's this for provenance ...

A tiny 14th century enamel-on-gold traveller's devotional triptych :

  • Mary Queen of Scots had it during her imprisonment in the Tower of London; she gave it to
  • Elizabeth Vaux, wife of 4th Lord Vaux of Harrowden (gr-gr granddaugher of St Thomas More).
  • Claudio Acquaviva, General of the Jesuits 1581-1616, who gave it as a coronation gift to:
  • Pope Leo XI dei Medici (1605); it was returned upon the Pope's death to:
  • Family of Fr Aquaviva, Dukes of Atri
  • Maximilian I , Duke of Bavaria Wittelsbach (c.1616); Wittelsbach family owned it for more than three centuries, until they
  • Sold it to a Munich art dealer (1933), who sold it to
  • Fritz Mannheimer (died during WWII, wife Jane remarried Charles Wm Engelhard)
  • During war, the triptych was stored in a London bank vault; Although the bank was bombed to smitthereens, the triptych remained intact;
  • Looted from rubble by an English sailor who traded it it for drinks at an Irish pub
  • Pubkeeper gave it to a convent, whence it passed to
  • An unnamed local collector who traded it to a dealer for some chairs.
  • The dealer showed it to Fr Martin D'Arcy, (Jesuit priest, Oxford) who knew it belonged to Mannheimer (he had bid against Mannheimer for it at auction when Mannheimer acquired it.)
  • Returned to Jane Engelhard (c 1948); She gave it to D'Arcy, who was a noted collector.
  • Put on public view to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (1953)
  • Evidently now on permanent loan to Victoria and Albert Museum, London

I'd love to see the tryptych, but I've been unable to find a picture of it, not even on the V&A website or the D'Arcy Museum website. Any leads?