"Royal Naval Barf Bucket" 
England, 1842 
36.8 cm ~ sterling silver
  

 

From the maiden voyage of the British royal yacht Victoria and Albert in 1842 it became apparent that Prince Albert, the Royal Consort, was no sailor. As soon as the yacht passed out of the still waters of the harbor Albert passed out on the reception deck, and completed the brief excursion with a complexion "richer than Her Majesty's finest emerald," as a local wag put it in a comic paper.

To accommodate the Prince's indisposition, Victoria commissioned this silver pail, which is composed of three mermen supporting a fanciful bell-shaped conch executed in eighteenth-century Rococo fashion. The merman facing the viewer has the countenance of a distressed Albert. Whether this was a sly joke on the part of the artisans or a comment by Victoria on her husband's unseaworthiness is not known.

The bucket accompanied Albert on every voyage, and he made frequent use of it. As an anonymous Royal Marine put it in Albert's biography, "...the horn shape tended to magnify the sounds of the Prince Consort's difficulties, and the echo was enough to put an able seaman off his grog."

 

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