David H Maude-Roxby-Montalto di Fragnito

13th Duke of Fragnito

Born in England, 30th August, 1934

Glass Sculptor, Diamond Point Stipple Engraver, Painter, Jeweller and Master Craftsman

From a very young age David’s family and teachers could see that he had a gift for the creative arts.

In 1947, David was sent with one of his brothers and a tutor to Victoria in Australia to write and illustrate a book on the wildlife of the Great Barrier Reef. Seeing David’s work, Dr Darling of Geelong Grammar School, where Prince Charles later attended, immediately offered him a place in order that he take advantage of the Art School, where he studied under Dr Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, a member of The Bauhaus movement.

David returned to England, to attend Claysmore School in Dorset, another school well known for the Arts, where Sir Terence Conran and Lucien Freud had studied. After graduation David went on to study at The Sorbonne University in Paris France and then the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence Italy, studying under Professor Primo Conti and Professor Goffredo Trovarelli. After graduating with honours, David went on to win prestigious prizes, such as The Annigoni Prize at the International Art Competition 'Il Tricolore' in Montecatini, Italy.

Early Years

During his years in Florence, he lived at Villa di Bellosguardo with his cousins, The Duke and Duchess of Fragnito. David was especially close to their son, Ruggiero Montalto di Fragnito, who tragically died prematurely in an accident. The Montaltos were distraught and because of their love for David, and their close family ties, asked his natural parents if they could adopt him as their son and heir. This was accepted and is how David came to have the artistic and romantic surname, Maude-Roxby-Montalto di Fragnito.

David remained in Italy after his adoption and was offered a partnership with Professor Giancarlo 'Jinx' Girard at Tunsi Ceramics. Their partnership was very successful winning national and international prizes. A collection of these can be seen at The Museum of Childhood in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.

Diamond Point Stipple Engraving

Having seen the work of Lawrence Whistler and admiring the great masters of glass engraving in the Victoria and Albert Museum, David became fascinated with this medium. Diamond Point Stipple glass engraving had died out in the 18th century because it could not compete with the less costly and faster method of the copper wheel. In the 1930’s there was a revival and David decided to take it still further by having the art world accept this discipline as high art. David quickly developed his own techniques and proceeded to create some of the most delicate and beautiful engravings in the history of art.

David Montalto, the name he now goes by, works between his studios in Switzerland, Italy and England. He has exhibited his work internationally and has pieces in some of the most admired public and private collections around the world. These collections include the Royal households of Great Britain, Norway, Brunei and Oman, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Corning Museum of Glass, the Atwater-Kent Maritime Museum in Philadelphia and The Museum of Writing in Paris. In 1973, to celebrate Great Britain joining the European Economic Community, David was commissioned to design and engrave series commemorative glasses which were presented to every Head of State.

Luxury Masterpieces

More recently, David has earned a reputation as a designer of ultra high end and unique luxury masterpieces. He has worked for the jewellers Harry Winston, and designing and making an ornamental gold pendent to hold a 50 Carat Ruby. David has also designed the world’s most expensive pen with a solid Baccarat crystal box for Montegrappa 1912. In 2008 David collaborated with the master watch maker Michel Parmigiani to create for Parmigiani Fleurier a unique and priceless engraved wrist watch.

David has lectured at some of the world's most prestigious academic institutions and societies. These include The Harvard Club, The Royal Society of Physicians, the Sothebys and Christies Fine Art Courses and The Friends of the Israel Museum. Yehudi Menuhin asked David to join him as a trustee of West Dean College, the first university dedicated to the crafts. This initiative was endowed by the philanthropist and famous collector Edward James.