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Border

1872-1879 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

The original ornament from which this was cast is the border decoration surrounding the arch which surmounts the doorway of the main entrance to the Wikala (caravanserai) of Sultan Qa’itbay, near the mosque of al-Azhar in Cairo, built in 1477. Plaster casts from a variety of historic monuments across Cairo, especially those built during the reign of Sultan Qa’itbay (r.1468-96), were made to decorate the ‘maison arabe’ of the French aristocrat, the Comte Gaston de St Maurice (1831-1905), which was built for him between 1872 and 1879.

St Maurice lived in Cairo for twenty years, serving as equerry to the Khedive (Ottoman governor) of Egypt. During that period, he accumulated a large collection of historic objects from Islamic Egypt, dating especially from the 14th-16th centuries but also including some 19th-century objects. The V&A acquired about 200 objects from St Maurice collection in 1884.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Plaster
Brief description
Plaster cast (in eight sections) of the border decoration around the arch of the main gate of the Wikala (caravanserai) of Sultan Qa’itbay, near the mosque of al-Azhar in Cairo, built 1477.
Physical description
Plaster cast made from locally available Egyptian building plaster, which has a pinkish tone. The surface has been patinated.
Style
Object history
Bought from the collection of Gaston de Saint-Maurice (1831-1905) in 1884. Saint-Maurice displayed his extensive art collection at the 1878 Paris exhibition, in a gallery entitled L'Egypte des Khalifes. This was part of an official sequence of displays celebrating the history of Egypt, presented by the Egyptian state at this international event. Saint-Maurice held a position at the Khedival court, and had lived in Cairo in 1868-1878. Following the exhibition, Saint-Maurice offered his collection for sale to the South Kensington Museum (today the V&A).
Historical context
This object was copied in the Museum and given the number Repro.1884-811 to 811I. This reproduction was recorded as being on loan to the Royal Scottish Museum according to nominal file (12/12/21), although 810G was written off (Board of Survey R.P. 38/2907)
Associations
Summary
The original ornament from which this was cast is the border decoration surrounding the arch which surmounts the doorway of the main entrance to the Wikala (caravanserai) of Sultan Qa’itbay, near the mosque of al-Azhar in Cairo, built in 1477. Plaster casts from a variety of historic monuments across Cairo, especially those built during the reign of Sultan Qa’itbay (r.1468-96), were made to decorate the ‘maison arabe’ of the French aristocrat, the Comte Gaston de St Maurice (1831-1905), which was built for him between 1872 and 1879.



St Maurice lived in Cairo for twenty years, serving as equerry to the Khedive (Ottoman governor) of Egypt. During that period, he accumulated a large collection of historic objects from Islamic Egypt, dating especially from the 14th-16th centuries but also including some 19th-century objects. The V&A acquired about 200 objects from St Maurice collection in 1884.
Associated object
Bibliographic references
  • List of Objects in the Art Division, South Kensington Museum acquired during the Year 1884. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1885. p. 98
  • Mercedes Volait, Maisons de France au Caire: le remploi de grans décors mamelouks et ottomans dans une architecture moderne (Cairo: Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientales, 2012)
Collection
Accession number
1026-1884

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Record createdJuly 30, 2008
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