Further to the earlier Potty blog last month, Lady Rose supplied some extra information, saying that the Italian terracotta olive pots at Tir n’an Òg were gifts from her great aunt, Mrs Alice Keppel, to Edith Lady Londonderry. The Keppels lived in the Villa dell’Ombrellino in Bellosquardo near Florence, formerly the home of the astronomer Galileo Galilei.
And the vase on the Terrace overlooking the Italian Garden with the balustrade is one of several which were direct copies by Lady Edith of those from the Oceanic Island Garden at the Boboli Gardens in Florence. Here’s a closeup.
Some of the pots are embossed with the Stewart heraldic dragon but this one has the Tudor Rose emblem of the Women’s Legion, founded by Lady Edith during the years of the Great War. See the beautiful portrait of her in uniform by Hungarian artist Philip de Laszlo in the mansion house. Lady Edith used the portrait as her library bookplate with a Latin motto above quoting Rabbie Burns’, ‘My Heart is in the Highlands’, but perhaps that was chosen before she came to realise how much she loved living at Mount Stewart.
Another ‘pot’ which may interest fans of ceramics and flowers is the Etruscan style Londonderry Vase. Originally commissioned by Napoleon, the vase was not released by the Sevres factory until 1814. Beautifully painted with flowers by Gilbert Drouet, it was used as a diplomatic gift by the newly restored Bourbon King, Louis XVIII, when he ordered Talleyrand to present it to Viscount Castlereagh on the eve of the Congress of Vienna.
This ginormous 54 inches high presentation piece resides in the Art Institute of Chicago and dominates the room in which it is displayed.