A Rare Pair of Royal Presentation Portrait Photographs of George V and Queen Mary, 1914
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Overall height: 39.5cm (15.5in)
Major-General Artus Henri Louis Vicomte de la Panouse (1863-1945) Military Attaché, French Embassy, London (1914-22).
Full length photographic portraits of George V (1865-1936) and Queen Mary (1867-1953) by court photographers W. & D. Downey of 61 Ebury Street, London, S.W. The King’s portrait signed in ink on the image lower right in the King’s hand ‘George, R.I.’, for George Rex Imperator (King Emperor) and autograph dated ‘1914’. The King is shown in the full dress uniform of a Field Marshal with baton in his right hand, and ostrich plumed bicorn hat resting on the table beside him. Queen Mary’s portrait autograph signed and dated lower centre in ink ‘Mary R / 1914’. The Queen shown wearing the George IV State Diadem, multiple collet necklaces, Royal Family orders and Order of the Garter insignia with state dress. The portraits contained in a matched pair of silver presentation frames with arched and scalloped crests engraved respectively with the cyphers of George V and Queen Mary surmounted by the Imperial State Crown; each with a blue morocco easel back bearing the maker’s name of Edwards & Sons, 161 &159 Regent Street, London. Hallmarked London 1911.
The present pair of photographs were presented to General Vicomte de la Panouse as a symbol of Anglo-French solidarity at the start of the First World War. Panouse’s arrival at the French Embassy in London in the summer of 1914 coincided with the height of the tensions between the Triple Alliance (of Germany, Austria and Italy) and the Triple Entente (of Russia, France and Great Britain). Russia’s support for Serbia which was attacked by Austria on 28 July 1914, brought matters to a head. At the time it was by no means clear that Great Britain was going to stand by her obligations. Indeed the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary together with a third of the Cabinet were for staying out of a European war. The Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Sir Henry Wilson, and pro French friends in and out the British military ‘began to think the Cabinet was going to runaway’ and leave France in the lurch despite all previous understanding. Accordingly General Wilson advised Panouse to get the French Ambassador Cambron to tell the British Foreign Secretary Grey “that, if we did not join, he would break off relations and go to Paris.”
Panouse’s blunt words were tempered but nevertheless remained at the heart of what was termed a ‘rather painful interview’ between Grey and Cambron on 31 July, with the former still refusing to back France openly. George V then weighed in with a telegraph to Berlin to confirm that Grey had stated that Britain would remain neutral if France and Russia were not attacked. When Grey finally sent a memorandum demanding that Germany respect Belgium's neutrality, it was too late. German forces were massed at the Belgian border, and the Kaiser, having been persuaded by von Moltke, took his fatal leap into the abyss. With the German invasion of Belgium providing the casus belli, Anglo-French relations were quickly restored with Wilson promising Panouse that Britain would send an Expeditionary Force to France.
Edwards & Sons of Regent Street, originally operated as Edwards & Jones from 1872 until 1895. The business was continued under the style of Edwards & Sons at 161, Regent Street In 1908 their premises were extended in 1908 to include the adjoining property of 159, Regent Street. The firm entered marks at the London Assay Office, on the 19th September 1901, 14th September 1904, 16th September 1907 and the 7th October 1909, all were 'E & S' contained within a lozenge shaped punch. The business closed in 1928, the entire stock was purchased by Harrods.