AN EDWARDIAN PRESENTATION TRAY of oval form, with raised scroll and shell border and plain handles, the centre chased with flowers and scrolls, engraved with a presentation inscription "Presented by the Planters Association of Ceylon to Mrs E.H.L. Thomas (Miss Geraldine Blake) in appreciation of the artistic skills displayed and generously given in the designing and execution of the Ceylon Contingent Memorial, Kandy", by James Dixon & Sons, Sheffield 1909, 26" long (handle to handle), (c.91oz). See illustration The tray marks an important moment in the history of the Boer War and of the contribution made by a patriotic group of soldiers from Ceylon. The fine memorial created to mark this history is also one of the finest bronze war memorials to have been created by a female artist at the turn of the nineteenth century. Unveiled in 1907, the 'Ceylon contingent memorial' is a large and impressive work by Geraldine Blake, a successful sculptor who was one of very few female artists to obtain a commission to create a work on this scale. Depicting a trooper of the Ceylon Mounted Infantry giving the signal 'enemy in sight', the sculpture is full of life and movement, with the soldier in full uniform holding a rifle above his head. Geraldine Blake, who became Geraldine Thomas at her marriage, was the sister-in-law of Lt Arthur H Thomas, one of the soldiers who died in action and is consequently commemorated on the memorial. Commissioned by A.H. Thomas' father to remember his son and fallen comrades, the choice of Geraldine Blake will have been a fitting family collaboration. The 'Ceylon contingent' were a locally raised unit of Ceylon volunteers drawn largely from the local white planter community. A 129 strong contingent travelled to fight in South Africa as a sign of their patriotic ardour and loyalty to the Queen and Empire. Described in the pages of the Daily Telegraph as 'lithe, clean-cut fellows and their 'mounts' are the hardy and wonderful Burma ponies'. Originally sited along the Lakeside Esplanade in Kandy the memorial became something of a focal point for nationalist sentiment in post-independence Sri Lanka in the 1960s. To protect the memorial it was removed from its plinth and relocated within the confines of the Sri Lankan Army barracks at Kandy where it remains.
Sold For £950.00 In The Jewellery and Silver, Furniture and Works of Art - [8th December Lots 1-739] [9th December Lots 850-1477] - - Sale Date 8th December 2016
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