Wings of Desire

08th June 2021

The natural world has always fascinated and inspired jewellers. Here, some glittering birds, bees, butterflies and flowers are showcased on books of natural history from the library at Goodwood.

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Natural History at Goodwood

The natural history books used as background for this jewellery still-life shoot are all from the Collection at Goodwood. The 2nd and 3rd Dukes of Richmond were both fascinated by the natural world – keen horticulturalists who were also in touch with some of the leading scientists and thinkers of the Enlightenment. A relative by marriage to the famous naturalist Sir Hans Sloane and the botanist and academic Lord Bentinck, the 2nd Duke was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society when aged just 22. He was one of the subscribers to Mark Catesby’s Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, such subscriptions being the crowdfunding of the era – a way of sponsoring research and fostering talent, as well as acquiring this fascinating and important book.

As well as going on the conventional Grand Tour of the era, his son would spend time studying natural sciences at Leiden University, a remarkable choice for an English aristocrat at this time. From later books in the Goodwood Library – which range from an 1825 edition of Erasmus Darwin’s two-part poem The Botanic Garden through to Trees of Interest at Goodwood, a book privately printed by for the 7th Duke in 1912 – it is apparent that the natural world has been of enduring interest to the Dukes of Richmond over many generations.

John Hill, Exotic Botany, London, 1759
Hill was employed by the 2nd Duke of Richmond and the 8th Baron Petre to arrange their gardens and collections of dried plants. He later became gardener at the newly established botanical gardens at Kensington Palace.

Benjamin Wilkes, The English Moths and Butterflies: Together with the Plants, Flowers and Fruits whereon they Feed, and are usually Found, London, 1749
Many of the subscribers to this beautiful book were aristocratic ladies, including the Duchess of Richmond, wife of the 2nd Duke of Richmond. Wilkes was a history and portrait painter who turned to natural history.



(clockwise from top left)

1st page

Tsavorite and diamond Dragonfly brooch, £3,500; yellow diamond Bee Different brooch, £8,750; small sapphire Bee brooch, £3,500, all by Theo Fennell

2nd page

Butterfly with tsavorite hook earrings, Alex Monroe, £255; (left) Damsel Fly and Grassblade green amethyst drop earring, one of pair, Alex Monroe £270; (left) Butterfly earring, one of pair, Thomas Sabo, £339; (right) Hummingbird pendant, Thomas Sabo £498; Pendant Butterfly with Moon and Stars, Thomas Sabo, £498

3rd page

(Clockwise from top left) Pétales de Camélia ring by Chanel, £8,000; Love Me Love Me Not Crystal Haze large ring in 18-carat white gold, black opalescent and quartz Crystal Haze 19.25ct and black diamond pavé by Stephen Webster, £7,600; Blossom bracelet set with diamonds in 18-carat SMO yellow gold by Boodles, £5,600; pair of Blossom earrings set with diamonds in 18-carat yellow gold by Boodles, £6,000

4th page

Rose Dior Pré Catelan necklace in rose gold, diamond and pink quartz by Dior Joaillerie, £3,600; Mythology Beetle blue topaz charm by Anoushka, £3,500; Mythology Beetle citrine ring by Anoushka, £4,500

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