article # 115
by Christine Erratt
(click on photos to enlarge image)

Australian Open Tennis Tournament Trophy

On 1st February this year, twenty two year old Spaniard Rafael Nadal won the 2009 Australian Open Tennis Championship in front of an enthusiastic crowd - enthusiastic both for the champion and the runner-up, Roger Federer of Switzerland. There was a huge television viewing audience also. They battled each other for over four hours for the title - and for the trophy and prize money. The Australian Open is one of the four Grand Slam Tournaments along with the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

Any Silverphile’s heart would have raced seeing the mighty silver trophy presented to Nadal held high above his head like an offering to the ancient gods.
Rafael Nadal and the Australian Open perpetual trophy The perpetual trophy on its plinth
Rafael Nadal and the
Australian Open perpetual trophy
photo: Sina English website
The perpetual trophy on its plinth
The Australian Open tennis tournament commenced in 1905 under the auspices of the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia. It was played on grass courts until 1987 and in 1988 the era of hard courts began. It is now managed by Tennis Australia. The perpetual trophy presented to the winner of the Men’s Singles is called the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, so named after the late Sir Norman Brookes (1877-1968), a former Australian tennis champion and a former president of the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia.

This large silver trophy was made in England. It bears London hallmarks for the year 1906 and the sponsor’s mark of Hardy Bros. (note 1)
London hallmarks for the year 1906 and the sponsor?s mark of Hardy Bros
London hallmarks for the year 1906 and the sponsor’s mark of Hardy Bros
The diameter of the bowl is 25.7cms (10 ins); including its handles the all over width is 39cms (15 ins). Its height is 28cms (11 ins) and it stands on a plinth of 15.5cms (6 ins).

It was based on the design of a very large Roman marble vase from the second century AD. The fragmented vase was found in c1770 by Gavin Hamilton, a Scottish painter, antiquarian and art dealer, in the silt of a marshy pond in the extensive grounds of Hadrian’s villa, Villa Adriana. (note 2) Hadrian was the Roman Emperor in the years AD117-138. Villa Adriana was a grandiose imperial palace located just outside ancient Tibur, modern Tivoli, 28km east of Rome. The sumptuous villa complex of over 30 buildings covered an area estimated to be between 100-300 hectares. It was Hadrian’s preferred residence when he was not on travels away from Rome. The villa was designed to surpass all others and was adorned with the very best of what the Roman Empire had to offer in terms of works of art. It is assumed that this large and elaborately decorated vase or urn was specially made to adorn his palatial villa. Almost everything of value has been removed from the site and many objects are now dispersed throughout Europe in museums and collections, both public and private.
The restored marble vase from Villa Adriana from a 1778 engraving by Giovanni Battista Piranesi
The restored marble vase from Villa Adriana
from a 1778 engraving by Giovanni Battista Piranesi
photo: Smithsonian Institution website
The fate of the fragments of the marble vase was that they were purchased by Gavin Hamilton’s namesake and fellow Scot, William Hamilton (1730-1803), who was the British envoy to the Kingdom of Naples and the Two Sicilies at that time. (note 3) He was a noted diplomat, antiquarian, archaeologist and vulcanologist. During his time as British envoy he studied local volcanic activity and earthquakes and collected Roman and Etruscan vases and other antiquities, particularly from the then recently excavated ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Over the next two years William Hamilton saw to the repairs and restoration of the vase.

The restored marble vase is colossal, standing itself at 184cms (6ft). Including its pedestal, which is approximately 110cms (3ft 7ins) high, The combined height is 294cms (9’7’’) and combined weight is 8¼ tons. It has two large handles depicting interwoven vine branches, from which the tendrils, leaves and clustering grapes spread around the upper margin. It features classical Bacchanalian masks and associated emblems.

In 1772 William Hamilton offered part of his collection of antiquities to the British Parliament for sale and subsequently those purchased entered the collections of the British Museum. This stimulated an English interest in the art of the classical civilisations and is considered to have had a great influence on the evolution of English taste. The pottery business partnership of Josiah Wedgwood and Thomas Bentley (1769-1780) was particularly influenced by Hamilton’s collections of Etruscan vases, and profited greatly from its production of vases in the antique manner, many in black basalt painted to imitate classical origins. Hamilton, who was knighted in 1772, was immortalised in one of their portrait plaques.
1779 Wedgwood &  Bentley jasperware plaque of Sir William Hamilton
1779 Wedgwood & Bentley jasperware plaque
of Sir William Hamilton in the classical style
photo: British Museum website
However, the particular marble vase of our interest was not purchased by the British Museum. Sir William later (c1776) passed it over to his elder nephew in England, George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick and 2nd Earl Brooke of Warwick Castle. (note 4) After some years of the vase being on display on the lawns of Warwick Castle, a greenhouse was designed and built (1786-1788) in the grounds of the castle to display the vase in a more satisfactory climate. It attracted large crowds and is said to have became one of the most coveted objects in Europe. By this stage it had become known as the Warwick Vase.

Not only did the potteries of England enjoy greater business opportunities because of the surge in interest in ‘objets classiques’ but so too did the gold and silversmiths, who made replicas in silver and silver gilt. Engravings of the vase were made by Giovanni Battista Piranesi in 1778 and these prints provided the inspiration for reproductions of the vase. The design lends itself to reproductions being used not only as vases or urns but also as wine coolers, ice pails, bowls, tureens, centrepieces, salts and trophies. In England, Paul Storr was probably one of the most prolific producers of silver and silver gilt replicas of the Warwick Vase in the Regency Period. Many have been identified with his maker’s mark on them. In the period 1812-1816 the Prince Regent commissioned a set of 12 silver gilt ice pails in the Warwick Vase style from the Royal goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge and Rundell, where, at that time, Storr was a partner. They have Paul Storr’s mark on them and they remain to this day in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. Amongst the others who have taken up the challenge since the early years of the nineteenth century are Matthew Boulton, Benjamin Smith, Elkington & Co, Walker & Hall, E Barnard & Sons and the Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Company. In America, Fletcher & Gardiner also made fine replicas in silver, as did Joseph Germain Dutalis in Belgium. One of the most well known Chinese Export Silver silversmiths, Khecheong, also made replicas in his Canton workshop in the late nineteenth century.

Apart from only three full size replicas, the many other replicas are smaller in size, as in 1813 the Earl of Warwick placed a ban on any other reproductions being made true to scale. Shortly after 1813 two were permitted to be made of the same dimensions. They were cast in bronze and are now at the University of Cambridge and at Windsor Castle, both in England.
Restored vase from Villa Adriana Cast bronze replica of the Warwick Vase
Restored vase from Villa Adriana
photo: Burrell Collection website
Cast bronze replica of the Warwick Vase
photo: University of Cambridge website
The so-called Warwick Vase stayed on display at Warwick Castle until it was sold in London in 1978. Its disposal has led to the third full scale replica being displayed thereafter at Warwick Castle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York purchased the vase. However it was then declared to be an object of national importance and an export licence was denied. It was subsequently bought in 1979 by the Burrell Collection in Glasgow, Scotland, where it now stands in the middle of the museum’s internal courtyard, attracting much attention and interest.

It is almost two millennia since Hadrian arranged for artisans to create things of beauty to decorate his villa. Reproductions of the Warwick Vase have been produced in silver; bronze; iron; and other metals; porcelain; stone; and plates and medallions have been adorned with images. Even on the other side of the world in Australia each year, a silversmith creates a silver-plated replica of Hadrian’s marble vase. It becomes the trophy which the winner of the Australian Open can keep for himself. The complicated and intricate decoration offered a real challenge when the model was being prepared for casting. This half size replica is made in Australia by Terence County, a Melbourne silversmith. County has been running his own business in Melbourne, Victoria since 1972, specialising in trophies and restoration work. The trophy is marked with the maker’s incuse mark: T.COUNTY
Australian Open tennis tournament small replica trophy made by Terry County
Australian Open tennis tournament small replica trophy made by Terry County
I am indebted to Terry County for his assistance with all aspects of the original research into the Australian component of this article. All other information is a result of my reviewing many articles available online. As often occurs with such ‘secondary research’ there were many conflicting ‘statements of facts’. Any such conflicting statements have been referred to the Burrell Collection Curator of European Art 1600-1800, Mr Robert Wenley, who has kindly supplied the answers to the best of this knowledge.
(note 1) It is stated that the silver trophy was made for presentation at the first tournament in 1905. However, the hallmarks show a year date for May 1906 - April 1907.

(note 2) Gavin Hamilton had excavation rites to the site from 1770- early 1771. It is not known at which stage during this time that the particular fragments were found.

(note 3) It is not known with certainty whether Gavin Hamilton sold the fragments to William Hamilton or to the artist, Giovanni Piranesi, who then may have on sold them to William Hamilton.

(note 4) It is uncertain whether he gifted it or sold it to the Earl.
Christine Erratt - 2009 -
Christine Erratt is a researcher with a special interest in Australian contemporary silver.
Her book, Marks on Australian Silver 1950-2005, will be published later this year.