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Candlestick base

Candlestick base

  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)

  • Date:

    1300-1350 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brass, embossed and inlaid with silver and gold

  • Museum number:

    917-1884

  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery, case WE7

This candlestick base has preserved virtually all of its decoration. Many other surviving inlaid brasswares have had their valuable silver picked out.

There is one male figure on each of its facets. The nine in the upper row are arranged in groups of three, each showing a seated ruler flanked by two musicians. The figures on horseback are engaged in activities associated with high social rank, including hunting, playing polo, warfare and killing dragons.

Physical description

Base of a candlestick made of brass, with silver and gold inlay decoration. Nine seated figures and nine horsemen depicted on each of its facets between two inscription bands.

Place of Origin

Iran (made)

Date

1300-1350 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (made)

Materials and Techniques

Brass, embossed and inlaid with silver and gold

Marks and inscriptions

Successions of lam-alif

Dimensions

Width: 24.3 cm maximum, Height: 15.3 cm maximum

Object history note

Bought from the collection of Gaston de St Maurice (1831-1905) in 1884.

The V&A holds approximately 200 objects from the collection of the Comte Gaston de St Maurice (1831-1905). St Maurice was a French aristocrat working in Cairo for some 20 years as equerry to the Khedive (Ottoman governor) of Egypt. During that period, St Maurice accumulated a large collection of historic objects from Islamic Egypt, dating especially from the 14th-16th centuries but also including some 19th-century objects. His tastes ranged widely and his collection included works of art from Syria, Iran, India, East Asia, as well as Europe. These objects were installed, some of them as furnishings, in the maison arabe built for him between 1872 and 1879 by the French architect Ambroise Baudry (1838-1906), who designed several houses for prominent French ex-patriates in Egypt. Part of the decoration of St Maurice’s house included plaster casts taken from a variety of historic buildings across Cairo, especially those built during the reign of Sultan Qa’itbay (r.1468-96). The Mosque-Madrasa complex of Sultan Hasan was the other major building represented in this plaster cast collection.

St Maurice exhibited his collection at the 1878 Paris Exposition, where it was seen and its quality commented on by curators from the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A). After the exhibition, St Maurice’s collection remained in Paris, on deposit in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Due to the increasing political instability in Egypt, culminating with the British occupation (in 1882), St Maurice tried to sell his collection to the South Kensington Museum. The price was considered too high, but part of the collection was received on loan in 1883, the remainder staying in Paris at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Eventually in 1884, the loaned objects from St Maurice were bought by South Kensington. Stanley Lane- Poole (1854-1931), Arabist and external advisor to South Kensington on ‘Saracenic art’, considered this collection to be “of the greatest value and rarity”.

Descriptive line

Brass candlestick base, hammered brass with gold and silver inlay depicting horsemen, musicians and rulers, and calligraphic decoration, Iran, 1300-50.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Stanley Lane-Poole, The Art of the Saracens in Egypt, London, 1886, p. 217.
A.S. Melikian-Chirvani, Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World, 8th-18th Centuries (London: HMSO, 1982), no.88, pp.193-95.

Labels and date

Candlestick with Court Scenes and Horsemen
Iran
1300-50

There is one male figure on each facet of this candlestick base. The nine in the upper row are arranged in groups of three, each showing a seated ruler flanked by two musicians. The figures on horseback are engaged in activities associated with high social rank, including hunting, playing polo, warfare and killing dragons.

Brass, engraved and inlaid with silver and gold

Museum no. 917-1884 [Jameel Gallery]

Materials

Brass; Gold; Silver

Techniques

Hammering; Inlay; Chased; Niello; Champlevé; Incising

Categories

Household objects; Islam; Metalwork

Collection

Middle East Section

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