The House of Hauteville Chess Sets
The House of Hauteville Chess Set is an artist's dream come true. ChessHouse brings you artist Carolyn Cavanaugh's design, now produced in limited quantities right here in the USA. Her masterpiece is now available to chess collectors and artists. An initial production was donated to the Smithsonian's benefit auction and brought over $500.
All her life Carolyn had a compulsion to make things. Her father was an amateur artist, musician, and writer, and the creative environment in her house set the stage for Carolyn's artistic endeavors. In her teens, Carolyn became aware of a special talent in sculpture. She crafted little figures in soft stone or clay, often making quite a mess of her room. One small piece that remains from those days is a Madonna and Child that she sculpted for her sixteenth Christmas.
Carolyn shares, "The inspiration for this set came from a friend who asked me to make a mantle piece based on a pawn she had seen in a book by John Norwich. I read the book, The Normans in Sicily, and fell in love with the idea of these brave men. The knights and the pawn are directly based on some 11th century Norman wood chessmen that have been preserved at The Biblioteque de National in France. The other pieces are original imaginings. I gave the king a cat because there is a saying (of later vintage) that "a cat may look upon a king." The queen has a hawk because she is a warrior woman. I've named the king and queen after the famous warrior duo, Robert Guiscard and his wife Sichelgaita. I often refer to the knights as Tancred and Drogo, also names in the Norman Hauteville family."
"I once attended a lecture by Lord Norwich at the Smithsonian. He was not talking about his book on the Normans, but about his mother. Nonetheless I arranged to have someone at Smithsonian give him the six little figures to take home with him. He wrote me a letter of thanks and said he keeps them on the mantle. John Julius Norwich is a brilliant writer and has many wonderful books to his credit."
Carolyn's arts education has been hands-on and has included a variety of media. She found herself most taken with the art of lost wax and jewelry design, although she has also crafted a five-foot carnival tiger for fiberglass reproduction - the largest piece she ever did. Carolyn has learned from a number of craftsmen working in the jewelry and casting industries. For many years she created patterns for local jewelers in northern Virginia where she lived.
Carolyn now works in her home studio in Baltimore, Maryland where she has more space to follow her muse. Her work can also be seen at the Artisans in McLean, Virginia.
Where to Buy the House of Hauteville Chess Sets
The chess sets are available for purchase at Chess House exclusively, through the links to products below. You can purchase the pieces themselves or in combination with recommended luxurious chess boards called the Heirloom Collection.
The House of Hauteville chess pieces are handcrafted entirely in the US. The pieces are substantial from 3 to 5 inches tall and are ideal with a chessboard of at least 2" squares. The chess pieces are produced in Antique White and Black Marble Resin or Antique White and Brown Marble Resin.
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- Ashley, Queen's Gambit Institute