As well as the subject of a lady falconer seated on a horse (hallmarked for London 1851 and overstamped for the retailer John Samuel Hunt), the ebonised base is applied front and back with the Dutch royal coat of arms.
Inscribed plaques read Loo Challenge Cup 1851 and Challenge Cup Given by HM The King of the Netherlands. Won Two Years in Succession in 1851 and 1852 by Mr Sterling Crawfurd’s Darkie.
William Stuart Stirling Crawfurd (1819-87) was passionate about racing.
As his great-step niece, Helen Constance Stuart Stevenson, Baroness of Kilbridge, would later recall: “Uncle Crawfurd, having such good race horses, was one of the young men asked by King William of The Netherlands to bring his horses to race privately at Loo racecourse at Dorn in Holland.
“King William was much interested in the breeding and racing of horses and had his own club. It was called the Hawking Club and in spite of my extensive inquiries here and in Holland the origin of the name is a mystery. All racing trophies bore some representation to the art of hawking.”
The trophy came by descent to the consignor with an estimate of £15,000-25,000. However, bidding last month reached £36,000 (plus 22% buyer’s premium), with the auctioneers later able to say the purchaser was the Rijksmuseum.
Dirk Jan Biemond, curator of metalwork at the Amsterdam museum, said that “thanks to an anonymous donor [we] will now be able to show British sculptural silver – admired in the middle of the 19th century across Europe – at its best in the 19th century galleries“.