Frederick, Prince of Wales Rococo Patron and Rakish Rogue
Frederick, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of George II and Queen Caroline, was the flamboyant antithesis of his staid royal parents. When his parents moved to England in 1714, they left 7-year old Frederick in Hanover. By the time his father became King in 1727, Frederick had acquired a taste for political independence, a budding interest in the arts, and adopted habits of drinking and gambling. On his arrival in London in 1728, Frederick became a thorn in his father’s side, opposing his parents in everything—politics, opera, architecture, and art. Frederick supported the new stylistic taste for Rococo design that was popular in Paris.
However, the King tended to favor Palladian styles, as did his Whig Chancellor of the Treasury, Sir Robert Walpole, whom Frederick intensely disliked. Tension between the Prince and his father also centered on his demand for a larger allowance. Unlike the King, Frederick patronized foreign-born artists, including one of the premier Rococo artists in England, Philippe Mercier. The Prince spent huge sums of money on commissions from Huguenot craftsmen.
Art historian Sarah Coffin will talk about Frederick, who is often consigned to ignominy, as he was considered “scandalous” and never acceded to the British throne. She will illustrate Frederick’s extraordinary art Commissions. Ms. Coffin will also examine French and German influences on the Prince’s taste, and show how Frederick’s patronage influenced his friends and other nobles who shared his artistic passion. While much about Frederick’s history has been lost, his personality gleams through what remains of his collection.
Sarah Coffin, Decorative Arts and Design Consultant, Curator
Sarah Coffin, Decorative Arts and Design Consultant, Curator, and Lecturer, has extensively researched and explored the interaction of culinary design and history. She initiated and co-authored exhibition, book and article for The Magazine Antiques on Art Nouveau architect and designer Hector Guimard, now at The Driehaus Museum, Chicago.
Previously she was Senior Curator and Head of the Product Design and Decorative Arts Department at Cooper Hewitt for over fourteen years, retiring in 2018. Her tenure at Cooper Hewitt included her curation of the exhibition Feeding Desire: Design and Tools of the Table, 1500-2005. Her many exhibitions culminated with The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s, which she co-curated and co-authored the book with Stephen Harrison, for Cooper Hewitt and The Cleveland Museum of Art.
Other exhibitions for Cooper-Hewitt included the blockbuster exhibition Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels (2011), and Rococo: The Continuing Curve, 1730-2008. A frequent author and lecturer, Coffin worked at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and the Metropolitan Museum prior to becoming a Vice President and Decorative Arts Representative Sotheby’s. She has taught and/or lectured at many universities and to numerous museum and private groups. Coffin holds an MA in Art and Architectural history from Columbia University and a BA from Yale University.