Kettle Drums

Franz Peter Bunsen1779

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This magnificent pair of royal kettle drums was made for the Royal Life Guards of George III (1738-1820), King of Great Britain and Ireland and Elector of Hanover, whose royal coat-of-arms they bear. These ceremonial instruments would have been played on horseback accompanied by similarly mounted trumpeters leading the royal procession for state events. Sets of silver kettle drums were items made for royals in the seventeenth through nineteenth century as symbols splendor and wealth, but only a handful of sets survive today, as many were melted down for the immense amount of precious material they contained. This is the oldest of four pairs built for English monarchs of the House of Hanover, two later pairs remain in the possession of the British Crown, and a set commissioned by William IV in the 1830s is at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The original crimson banners that would have been draped around the lower portion of the drums during use also survive.

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  • Title: Kettle Drums
  • Date Created: 1779
  • Physical Dimensions: h410 mm
  • Type: Membranophone-single-headed / kettle drum
  • External Link: MMA
  • Medium: Silver, iron, calfskin, textiles
  • Medium Extent: Complete
  • Markings: Stamped on each drum and each lug: Bunsen Other hallmarks including a crown and the letter E.
  • Maker: Franz Peter Bunsen (master 1754-1795)
  • Culture: Hanoverian (German)
  • Credit Line Extent: Complete
  • Credit Line: Purchase, Robert Alonzo Lehman Bequest, Acquisitions Fund, and Frederick M. Lehman Bequest, 2010