The Royal Collection Trust is the Royal Household’s department that’s in charge of looking after the Royal Collection, the largest private art collection in the world that includes over one million objects owned by various generations of British Kings and Queens.
The collection includes works of art by the likes of Raphael, Vermeer, Titian, Leonardo da Vinci, Lucian Freud, and Andy Warhol. It also boasts Napoleon’s cloak and a lock of his hair, the glittering Gold State Coach, the Crown Jewels, numerous pieces by Russian jewellers Fabergé, and a plethora of items related to, or made, in Malta.
Among these are exquisite marble tops from J. Darmanin & Sons, which the Royal Collection itself calls ‘the best-known marble-working firm in nineteenth century Malta’.
The earliest one, dating to sometime between 1816 and 1837, is a circular table top that features the coat of arms of the House of Hanover, whose members reigned in the UK between 1714 to 1901.
This is followed by a cartouche-shaped table top that’s over 1.5 metres in length and is decorated with two Maltese crosses, as well as a stunning flower bowl motif. Dating to between 1839 and 1843, this was most likely acquired by Queen Adelaide, the widow of King William IV, who resided in Malta for three months in 1839.
The third table is probably the most elaborate. Crafted between 1840 and 1851, this table features an ornate rococo design marble top that shows Queen Victoria’s and Prince Albert’s coat of arms coming together. It also includes plenty of red and white Maltese coats of arms. This stunning top sits on a table that is, in itself, a stunning piece of art. This table now sits in the Throne Room of Buckingham Palace!
In the Provenance section of these tables, the Royal Collection Trust gives a brief explanation of the marble working in Malta, explaining how marble workshops were originally started by Italian craftsmen under the patronage of the Knights. These became renowned among Europeans and sold to those who made Malta one of their stops in the Grand Tour of Europe.
Other works by J. Darmanin & Sons are also present in the Victoria & Albert collection, so they’re a pretty big deal indeed.