Weekly Auctions of Exceptional Items
Log In
lots of lots
Lot 0197
Lind Jenny

George Washington Presented to Jenny Lind a Magnificent Museum Quality Display 1850

"The Republic's Offering to Jenny Lind", Outstanding Commemorative Gift Presented to her after her 1850 American Tour

An ornately decorated, book-shaped commemorative gift presented to "Swedish Nightingale" Jenny Lind (1820-1887) by the people of the United States at the conclusion of her concert tour there, ca. 1850-1852.

The book form case opens to reveal five oil paintings treating popular American patriotic themes, as well as a circlet of dried grasses. Jenny Lind's gift was originally accompanied by "presentation letters" stored in a chased silver compartment in the back of the case; these are now missing. Modern provenance includes an 1980 invoice from London antique dealer M. Ekstein Limited. Overall in near fine condition. Measures 10.75" x 13.5" x 2.25".

The custom-built case is in full black morocco, with elaborately gilt tooled covers and spine. The front cover features a personified Columbia at center, appearing above the inscription "From America." Eagles are depicted in the four spandrels, and floral and foliate motifs appear throughout. The rear panel is similarly decorated but features a 2" x 2.75" x .5" wall-papered cavity that originally housed the gift paperwork, accessible behind a silver shutter engraved "Caskete [sic] Containing the Presentation Letters." The case is also ornamented with chased silver front clasps, spine hinges, and a gilt "book block." Overall in very good to near fine condition. Expected wear, rubbing, and isolated minor loss to panels, spine, and edges. Silver elements are oxidized and the clasp straps are missing.

The case opens to reveal two richly decorated inner wings. The left side features a full-length oil on board marine painting depicting a steam-powered paddleboat flying both American and Swedish flags, ss: 7.875" x 11". A bald eagle, perched above the national colors of Sweden and the United States, crowns a cartouche inscribed in Swedish "Presenterat till Mamsell Jenny Lind såsom Ett minne af hennes wistand i Amerika" [trans: Presented to Miss Jenny Lind as a souvenir of her visit to America.]

The right wing, with its reverse-painted ebonized glass backdrop, features a central oval portrait of George Washington surrounded by thirty-one golden stars (the number of states then in the Union), ss: 4.5" x 6", and four quatrefoil shaped shadowbox compartments behind glass. From clockwise, these miniature hand-painted oils on board depict Washington's tomb, Washington's estate Mount Vernon, and Robert Mills' recently completed obelisk, the Washington Monument. The fourth compartment contains dried grass of unknown significance. Lettered in silver at bottom: "The Republic's Offering to Jenny Lind." Expected minor craquelure and loss, else near fine.

Swedish soprano Jenny Lind was among the most highly regarded opera singers of nineteenth-century Europe. She acquired fame and success at an early age, first charming audiences of the Royal Swedish Opera in 1838. Throughout her entire career, she was admired by outstanding composers like Hector Berlioz, Robert Schumann, and most importantly, Felix Mendelssohn. Besides her extraordinary voice and dramatic talent, Lind was celebrated for her philanthropy.

After Lind announced her permanent retirement from opera in London in 1849, she was approached by American showman P.T. Barnum. The businessman offered her a 2-year contract whose proceeds could easily finance Lind's numerous charities. Barnum offered her the unprecedented salary of $1,000 per night for up to 150 performances.

Lind arrived in the United States in September 1850. Barnum's intense marketing campaign preceded her, arousing such public excitement that the press coined the term "Lindmania." Tickets to her concerts were sold at auctions, and Jenny Lind memorabilia was peddled everywhere. First Lady Abigail Fillmore attended her concerts, and Lind was invited to the White House. Over the 18-month-long tour, Lind appeared in more than 90 concerts. Near the conclusion of her tour in May 1852, Lind married Otto Goldschmidt (1829-1907), a pianist, orchestra conductor, and composer who had worked on the tour. By the mid-1850s, the Goldschmidts retired to England.


Original retail paperwork includes:

1. Invoice No. 3868 dated 1 July 1980 from antique dealer "M. Ekstein Limited, Antiques - Works of Art - Jewelley - Export - Valuation … 90, Jermyn Street, Piccadilly, London, SW1Y 6JJ" to buyer "Håkan Oswald, Esq., Carl Swartling Advokatbyrå, Box 1650, 111 86 Stockholm" in the amount of £1,000.

2. Three double-sided carbon documents from Swedish customs, dated 2 and 3 July 1980.


Buyer's Premium

  • 25%

George Washington Presented to Jenny Lind a Magnificent

Estimate $15,000 - $20,000May 15