This monumental George III gold and hardstone intaglio fob seal comprises a profile portrait of the head and shoulders of Admiral Viscount Nelson, in uniform displaying the star and ribbon of the Order of the Bath. The seal is engraved into a large cut-corner rectangular carnelian set into an openwork gold pendent mount supported on a split ring.
English, circa 1800.
Height approx.: 2 1⁄4 in (60mm); Dimensions of hardstone approx.: 1 1⁄2 x 1 in (39 x 28mm)
This portrait seal is based on a pencil drawing of Nelson by Simon de Koster (1767-1831) said by the Admiral to be ‘the most like me’. Taken from life for Emma, Lady Hamilton, the portrait was completed in December 1800. Published as a popular print soon afterwards, de Koster’s ‘little outline’ of the Admiral was an instant success appearing in various forms before and after Trafalgar (see also William Tassie’s version on page 67)
Nelson sealed many of his letters with a portrait impression of Emma, Lady Hamilton. Other portrait seals of the Admiral are in the collection of the National Maritime Museum, but none on this monumental scale, suggesting its use by a family member or close acquaintance.