In March 2016, The Savoy, a Fairmont Managed Hotel, will unveil the latest piece of art in its enviable collection of contemporary artwork, a hand drawn triptych with gold leaf detailing by Dawn Coulter Cruttenden that will hang in The Savoy’s high-end patisserie, Melba.
The Legend of Melba tells the story of how Auguste Escoffier, the first head chef of The Savoy, created the Peach Melba dessert for Dame Nellie Melba. When staying at The Savoy in the 1890s, the renowned Australian opera singer requested that Escoffier create a special menu for a dinner party that she was hosting at the hotel one evening. Escoffier was determined the dinner was going to be one to remember and was particularly excited about an idea for dessert that he had come up with. Nellie Melba returned from the Royal Opera House that evening, after her triumphant performance in ‘Lohengrin’, to join her party at their table in the River Restaurant. Towards the end of the dinner the lights in the Restaurant suddenly dimmed, creating a magical candlelight and the room fell silent as a magnificent ice sculpture of a swan, which had featured in the opera, was wheeled over to Mme Melba’s table by Escoffier himself. It was breathtaking. The swan carried a pyramid of plump glistening peaches resting on a bed of vanilla ice cream, with spun sugar spirals as its crowning glory.
Speaking about the inspiration behind her piece, Dawn Coulter Cruttenden commented, ‘Nellie Melba was an opera singer. An actor… A Diva! She loved costume and glitter and was known for wearing all of her diamonds and pearls together so that she could be seen twinkling from the back of the theatre. What I’ve strived to achieve is this vision of an amazing woman who powered through a time when women were frowned upon for being more than a beautiful accessory. The Savoy is a place to celebrate style, beauty and uniqueness – there is something around every corner of that building for everyone to fall in love with. It’s iconic!’
The Savoy has a long history of playing host to artists and commissioning artwork since first opening in 1889 and, keen to re-establish its cultural links, The Savoy launched a collection of contemporary artwork following re-opening in 2010. Collaborating with Sally Vaughan of Go Figurative, a bespoke art agency, the result is a stunning, and ever-growing, collection of pieces by talented, skilful artists that reflect the synergy of the hotel with fine craftsmanship. The collection includes Stuart McAlpine Miller’s A Time for Reflection in the Thames Foyer, David Downes’ depiction of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, positioned in the Front Hall, Douglas Gray’s Monet-inspired Cloudbreak, River Thames hanging in the River Room, and Jonty Hurwitz’s anamorphic sculpture The 14th Guest, with pride of place in Kaspar’s Seafood Bar and Grill.
Dawn Coulter Cruttenden’s The Legend of Melba will be displayed in Melba in March 2016.