Gold Snuff Box made by Garrard of London, designed by Lady Clementine Beit 1989.
What do you give the man who has everything? For Lady Clementine, on the occasion of their 50th Wedding anniversay in 1989, designing an intricate miniature gold box depicting their much loved home at Russborough, was the perfect choice.
Showcasing not only Clementine's talent for design, but also the pride she and her husband clearly held for Russborough, this charming little gold snuff box, a fond favourite in our Collection, depicts the front entrance of Russborough surrounded by the Beit family coat of arms.
The image is engraved directly into the metal with an incredible eye towards detail, it is itself similar to the kind of drawing one might expect from a draughtsman, likely done by either Garrard & Co. or possibly even Clementine herself as the gold box is her design. Given as a gift to her husband, Sir Alfred, on their fiftieth anniversary, and made of gold, not silver, as gold is the traditional symbol of a marriage entering its fifth decade.
The French words below the family crest say it best, ‘fait bien fait’, literally ‘done well done.’, an achievement on an achievement, clearly not just a long-lasting marriage, but a happy one too. The depiction of Russborough seems like the same one might make on their initial approach and conjures the impression that it’s reminiscent of the Beit’s first view of the house. Perhaps a memory of the first time they arrived here, a place they would make their home for the rest of their lives.
The affection the Beits had for Russborough is hard to downplay, and as time went on, their attachment to the house seems to have become central to their identity. This can be argued in numerous ways, but we can see this here from the prominence the house plays in the display, and the present, but noticeably smaller coat of arms.
Whether intentional or not, this expresses a certain viewpoint that the house itself came to represent more about Sir Alfred Beit than the name Beit. It was from Russborough that Sir Alfred solidified his many endeavours favouring the arts, and his family’s legacy has become epitomised through the house.
It is a tragically fitting item too, as less than six years after receiving this gift, Sir Alfred would die of natural causes. He and Clementine never had children, and in the end, Russborough serves as a living memory of their story together as much as the individuals themselves.