CAG.2379 Unknown, Carved and Gilded Coat of Arms, n.d., wood, W 69 cm. Presented, John and Helena Mooney, 2008.
It’s a tale of heraldry, family, and decorative arts with this WORK OF THE WEEK!
This curious carved object depicts the family crest of a noted family once prominent in Cork and Waterford. The Penrose family crest consists of an escutcheon or shield emblazoned with three bends (diagonal bars) that signify protection. Each of these contain three roses, which may denote grace or faith. The shield is set on an oval cartouche decorated with scroll and tassels, which in turn is surmounted by a trout or salmon naiant (in a horizontal position).
The inclusion of the fish on this family crest relates to a legend regarding the origins of the Penroses at their traditional seat of Loe Pool in Cornwall. (The family was first documented here in 1281!) There is a long history of connection between Cornwall and the south coast of Ireland, particularly when it comes to fisheries. Today, ‘The Loe’ – or An Logh in Cornish – is the largest freshwater lake in Cornwall and is administered by The National Trust.
Born in 1736, the businessman Cooper Penrose was from the third generation of the Irish branch of the family. Having moved to Cork in 1763, he married Elizabeth Dennis, a fellow Quaker who was the daughter of his business partner. Together they lived at Woodhill on Lover’s Walk and amassed a renowned art collection.
Fun Fact: among other interests, the Penroses founded glass companies in Cork and Waterford, one of which eventually became the celebrated Waterford Crystal.
Presented to the collection twelve years ago, this historic objectis displayed in our eighteenth-century Penrose Rooms (Floor 1) along with paintings, silverware, porcelain, furniture, and books from the period. Free entry and open daily.
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