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Ewer

  • Place of origin:

    Venice (possibly, made)
    Cairo (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1500-1600 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brass, engraved and damascened with silver

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W L Hildburgh, FSA

  • Museum number:

    M.31-1946

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 63, The Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery, case 8

There was a great volume of traffic in inlaid metalwork throughout the Mamluk period. The large number of Mamluk inlaid objects which have survived with their inlay intact are the results of this trade. This continuity in trade hides a difference between 14th and 15th century Mamluk products. For most of the 14th century the main patrons of Mamluk metalwork were undoubtedly the Mamluk sultans and emirs, while those of the end of the 14th and 15th century are less overtly Mamluk and leave a space for European insignia to be added. By the second half of the 15th century the Europeans dominate the industry, supplying the metal and sometimes the objects themselves to be decorated. Traditional forms are less common and often replaced by Italian ones indicating an industry geared to export.

There is ongoing scholarly debate about the origin of so-called Veneto-Saracenic metalwork, regarding whether it was manufactured in Venice or in Mamluk Syria and Egypt and whether it was made by Venetian or Muslim craftsmen. A further complication is that metal objects are known to have been produced in Venice for decoration in the Near East. James Allan has identified two groups of such wares which he has attributed to Cairo and Damascus, rather than Italy, based on their decorative scheme. Although this ewer fits into his Cairo group with its linear inlay, background decoration of finely scrolling stems and areas highlighted with silver, the shape is so Italian in form that it seems to have been manufactured there.

Physical description

Oval brass ewer, with a narrow neck and trefoil lip, with a round foot and tinned copper scroll handle. Decorated all-over with silver damascene and floral arabesques.

Place of Origin

Venice (possibly, made)
Cairo (possibly, made)

Date

1500-1600 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Brass, engraved and damascened with silver

Dimensions

Height: 28.5 cm, Width: 16 cm, Depth: 12 cm, Weight: 1.25 kg

Object history note

There is ongoing scholarly debate about the origin of so-called Veneto-Saracenic metalwork regarding whether it was manufactured in Venice or in Mamluk Syria and Egypt and whether it was made by Venetian or Muslim craftsmen. A further complication is that metal objects are known to have been produced in Venice for decoration in the Near East. James Allan has identified two groups of such wares which he has attributed to Cairo and Damascus, rather than Italy, based on their decorative scheme. Although this ewer fits into to his Cairo group with its linear inlay, background decoration of finely scrolling stems and areas highlighted with silver, the shape is so Italian in form that it seems to have been manufactured there.

Historical context note

There was a great volume of traffic in inlaid metalwork throughout the Mamluk period. The large number of Mamluk inlaid objects which have survived with their inlay intact are the results of this trade. This continuity in trade hides a difference between 14th and 15th century Mamluk products. For most of the 14th century the main patrons of Mamluk metalwork were undoubtedly the Mamluk sultans and emirs, while those of the end of the 14th and 15th century are less overtly Mamluk and leave a space for European insignia to be added. By the second half of the 15th century the Europeans dominate the industry, supplying the metal and sometimes the objects themselves to be decorated. Traditional forms are less common and often replaced by Italian ones indicating an industry geared to export.

Descriptive line

Oval brass ewer with trefoil lip decorated with overall damascening and silver overlay, Venetian-Saracenic, 16th century

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

J. Allan, Metalwork of the Islamic World. The Aron Collection. London, 1986, fig. 49.
Haedecke, H.V., Metalwork, London, 1970. p.69
Sievernich, Gereon, and Budde, Hendrik, Europa und der Orient 800-1900 , Berlin, 1989. Catalogue of the exhibition, 28 May - 27 August, 1989. 923 p., ill. ISBN 3750048144
Catalogue entry 4/105 p606, (Ill. 238)
Tim Stanley ed., with Mariam Rosser-Owen and Stephen Vernoit, Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Middle East, London, V&A Publications, 2004; p. 128, plate 157

Materials

Brass

Techniques

Damascened

Subjects depicted

Arabesques

Categories

Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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