Was this the ring of the Tiger of Mysore, taken from his body when he was killed in battle?
The £115,000 paid by a European private buyer against an
estimate of £10,000-15,000 at Christie's on May 22
would seem to confirm that it is.
The late 18th century Indian antique gold ring appeared as part
of the Raglan Collection and Works of Art from The Collection of
the Marquesses of Londonderry.
The stand-out items at the sale, including this one, belonged to
the 1st baron, the most prominent member of that family, who was
married to the Duke of Wellington's niece, Lady Emily
Wellesley-Pole. He served under the Iron Duke in the Peninsula and
at Waterloo, losing his arm in the 1815 battle. He commanded
British forces in the Crimea, becoming a field marshal in November
1854, but faced criticism following failures of supply, the loss of
the Light Brigade and a botched assault on Sebastopol. He died
The heavy ring has the name of the Hindu god Rama in raised
Devenagri script and the inside of the hoop is engraved Major
General Lord FitzRoy Somerset KCB. The key to that price may be
that by family tradition it was taken from Tipu, Sultan of Mysore,
by Arthur Wellesley, later Duke of Wellington, at the battle of
Seringapatam in 1799. He gave the ring to his niece who later
became Lady FitzRoy Somerset, and it passed to the Raglan family.
Tipu's body was found under the ramparts after the battle.
The two-day sale overall was certainly a mouth-watering
prospect: market-fresh material with superb provenance to two of
the most influential and prominent British families of the 19th
A total of 528 lots were on offer from these historically
significant families, linked by their influence in the political
world from the Napoleonic Wars onward.
The first day featured the remarkable Raglan items, with the
subtitle of Wellington, Waterloo & The Crimea giving an idea of
the sweep of the private collection, which came from Cefntilla
Court, Monmouthshire, the ancestral home of the Barons Raglan.
Some 312 lots were being sold by order of the executors of
Fitzroy John Somerset, 5th Baron Raglan (great-great-grandson of
the 1st Baron Raglan). He died in 2010, but a family dispute had
blocked an earlier sale.
Many of the items had personal links to the Baron and to
Wellington, and some would actually have been used on the
A day later, the Marquesses of Londonderry (the
Vane-Tempest-Stewarts) were the family in focus, a name synonymous
with the art collection they assembled and housed in the palatial
Wynyard Park in the North-East and in the now-demolished
Londonderry House in Park Lane, Mayfair - a stone's throw from this
Christie's sale location, appropriately. The collection of works of
art came from those two properties.
The most prominent member of this aristocratic dynasty was Lord
Castlereagh, foreign secretary in the later part of the Napoleonic
Wars, who played a major role in the peace negotiations such as the
Treaty of Vienna which shaped 19th century Europe. The family
wealth came when the 3rd Marquess, Castlereagh's half-brother,
married fantastically wealthy heiress Frances Vane-Tempest in
Christie's pre-sale publicity spoke of a combined expectation of
£1.5m, but in the event the two days brought a premium-inclusive
total of £4,758,500, with 94% sold by lot and 99% by value.
The Londonderry sale day proved to be a particular big hitter,
providing £2,738,687 of that overall total and claiming six of the
ten top prices, including the two highest sums, despite only
offering 216 of the 528 total lots over the two days.
Provenance was obviously a main draw here, along with the
historical importance of the items, but the sheer variety on offer
attracted a wide range of buyers - indeed, things moved rather
slowly simply because of the number of phone and internet bidders
competing on so many lots. Despite starting at 1.30pm, the Raglan
day alone lasted until 8pm, said Amelia Walker, specialist head of
collection sales, the co-head of this two-day sale along with
associate director Adrian Hume-Sayer.
She added: "The Raglan saleroom was completely packed; I haven't
seen a saleroom that busy for a decorative arts sale. Things like
Russian and contemporary arts sales are always packed, obviously,
but decorative arts sales buyers tend to be on the phone or online,
so to have so many in the room was a real bonus."
International interest came from as far afield as Bangkok,
Bermuda and the Bahamas, and Christie's said 29% of the lots were
bought or directly underbid on Christie's Live.
"I think, looking round the Raglan saleroom, the majority of
bidders and buyers were certainly private," she said. "There were a
lot of military enthusiasts, a couple of institutions, a few trade
- particularly for more standard pieces like silver. Top lot, the
Raglan medal group, was bought by a member of the trade, but there
was a lot of private interest both from the UK and abroad, a very
interesting mixture of people."
A huge attraction was that both days offered so many different
entry points with a something-for-everyone feel: a wide variety of
lots were on offer, ranging from militaria, silver and portraits to
ceramics and furniture, all boosted by that provenance and
historical interest, with a good number of more affordable options
underlying those headline prices.
Day two, in particular, had plenty of choice, probably helping
to explain its success. The Londonderry side of it had a broader
selection of pieces within each category, but still of very high
Ms Walker said: "Certain things such as 19th century sculptures
and furniture did very well, and the full-length portraits were an
example where the historical importance can go hand in hand with
the decorative element and the quality to make the price go
completely over our expectations."
Ajax statue soars to top sum
Top lot from the May 22-23 Raglan and Marquesses of Londonderry
sale at Christie's came from the Londonderry collection on the
A French monumental bronze sculpture of Ajax bravant les dieux,
cast by Charles Crozatier, Paris, from the model by Louis Marie
Charles Henry Mercier Dupaty c.1830, defied a £25,000-40,000
estimate to sell for £300,000.
Bought by an advisor, the 9ft (2.75m) high work stood in the
garden of Wynyard Park and was provenanced originally to
'almost certainly Charles William Vane, 3rd Marquess of
It was probably a unique cast by the sculpteur-fondeur Crozatier
from the original by Dupaty, first shown in plaster at the 1812
Salon and commissioned for Napoleon.
The plaster was donated in 1883 to the Musée des Beaux-Arts in
Bordeaux, where it remains. The Marquess attended a dinner given by
King Louis-Philippe at the Palais des Tuileries in May 1837 and it
is probable he bought this bronze then.
At the same time he may have bought a lifesize Borghese
gladiator also featured in the sale which - like Ajax - sat on a
plinth at Wynyard Park.
That 5ft 3in (1.6m) mid 19th century gladiator, catalogued as
French or Italian, sold for £60,000 (estimate £15,000-25,000).
Another sculpture high-flier was a French lifesize white marble
figure of Suzanne au bain by Pierre Sebastien Guersant, dated 1840,
after an original dated 1813 by Pierre-Nicolas Beauvallet.
It was probably commissioned by the 3rd Marquess in 1837 when he
and his second wife spent a month in Paris on returning from St
The work is shown in a photograph of the huge sculpture gallery
at Wynyard Park c.1890. It more than tripled the top estimate to
fetch £130,000 from a European private buyer.
Raglan medals and field marshal's
Top-seller from the Raglan day (and third-highest overall) was
the group of awards and medals to Lord FitzRoy Somerset, the 1st
Baron Raglan (1788-1855), reflecting his long military career
ranging from ADC to the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular
War and at Waterloo to commanding the British Army in the
Included are the Peninsular Gold medal with clasps for Badajoz
and Salamanca and the Peninsular Gold Cross with five clasps. For
his first battle the recipient was awarded a gold medal, for his
second and third two clasps, and thereafter the gold cross (with
clasps). In total, only 165 crosses and clasps were ever
The lot, comprising 12 awards and medals, also featured the
field marshal's baton awarded to Raglan after his victory at
Inkerman in the Crimea. Although it sold to the UK trade for just
under the low estimate, at £240,000 it was still a considerable sum
for medals and reflected the recipient's prominence and remarkable
The reason for the still-perfect optics in a George III
seven-draw gilt-brass and ivory pocket field glass telescope by
Berge, London, late Ramsden, c.1802-10, probably stems from its
history. The body is engraved Lord Fitz-Roy Somerset - later 1st
Baron Raglan - and it was used by him in the Peninsular War and at
Waterloo, where he lost his right arm, meaning that perhaps this
telescope was then packed away and never used again, Christie's
Amelia Walker suggested. The story behind it may also account for
the price of £14,000 on an estimate of £1500-2000.
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