Decorative and glamorous, Temple Newsam’s silver epergne fittingly once belonged to a celebrated Paris socialite.
The dazzling centrepiece was made by Thomas Pitts in 1759 and is a particularly ornate example of a type of table decoration which became the height of fashion in the middle of the 18th Century.
Crafted in what was known as the chinoiserie style, the piece is in the form of a Chinese pagoda or garden pavilion, complete with upturned eaves, hanging bells, pierced baskets and dishes.
When on display at dinner, the epergne would have contained fruits and delicacies for dessert and would have sat alongside other similarly decorative ornaments such as porcelain figures and sculptures.
Temple Newsam’s epergne was owned by the legendary fashion writer and hostess the Hon Mrs Daisy Fellowes, known as one of the most daring style icons of the time.
Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said:
“This is a truly beautiful object with a fabulous story behind it and it’s easy to imagine this centrepiece gracing many lavish Parisian parties.
“Temple Newsam’s silver collection is hugely impressive and a great deal of expertise goes into acquiring and conserving these wonderful items for the people of Leeds to enjoy.”
The epergne is one of the exhibits in Temple Newsam’s new Showstoppers exhibition, which features beautiful historic pieces from the house’s world-renowned collection on show alongside imaginative creations by two leading contemporary silversmiths.
The exhibition will also include a series of films giving an insight into each object, created by York and Manchester-based production company, Digifish.
A varied programme of themed events, talks and tours will also take place around the exhibition, which runs until October 15.
Charges will apply for some talks and events. For more details, please visit: http://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/templenewsamhouse/Silver-Centrepieces.aspx