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Flagon
  • Flagon
    Powell, John Hardman, born 1827 - died 1895
  • Enlarge image

Flagon

  • Place of origin:

    Birmingham (made)

  • Date:

    1858-1859 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Powell, John Hardman, born 1827 - died 1895 (designer)
    John Hardman & Co. (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ruby glass, mounted in silver gilt and embellished with cabochons and enamels

  • Credit Line:

    Formerly in the collection of Charles and Lavinia Handley-Read.

  • Museum number:

    M.39-1972

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries, case 4B

A flagon was used in both Protestant and Roman Catholic worship to hold the communion wine during Holy Communion. The designer of this example, John Hardman Powell, became chief designer for Hardman’s in 1852. He was the pupil and son-in-law of the influential architect A.W.N. Pugin, who promoted the Gothic as the true Christian style. The flagon, which was shown at the International Exhibition of 1862, continues the Pugin style.

Physical description

Ruby glass, mounted in silver gilt and embellished with cabochons and enamels

Place of Origin

Birmingham (made)

Date

1858-1859 (made)

Artist/maker

Powell, John Hardman, born 1827 - died 1895 (designer)
John Hardman & Co. (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Ruby glass, mounted in silver gilt and embellished with cabochons and enamels

Marks and inscriptions

Birmingham 1858-9, Designed by John Hardman Powell (1827-1895)

Dimensions

Height: 32.5 cm, Length: 15.0 cm, Width: 13.0 cm

Object history note

The dramatic use of ruby glass gives this ecclesiastical vessel a rich effect. The decoration closely resembles the style of A.W.N.Pugin. John Hardman Powell was Pugin's pupil and son-in-law. He was the chief designer for John Hardman and Co from 1852.

Historical context note

The Gothic Revival
In the Victorian period a dramatic and profound change took place in religious life. Centred on a renewed interest in the Middle Ages, it affected the appearance of churches and how services were conducted. The influential architect A.W.N. Pugin promoted the Gothic as the true Christian style. Although Pugin was Catholic, his theory appealed to Anglicans of the Oxford Movement - radicals who hoped to restore pre-Reformation services to the Church of England.

The Cambridge Camden Society, founded in 1839, studied the past to identify the medieval architecture and furnishings that would be appropriate for the revived services. The society became an arbiter of style, offering an Anglicised version of the Gothic. By the 1870s some of the equipment normally found in Catholic worship, such as the ciborium, was appearing in Anglican churches.

It was not universally welcomed. Some observers found the incense, the altar cross and the emphasis on ritual scandalously 'Popish' or 'high church'.

The Gothic Revival in Europe
The Gothic revival in Europe owed more to nationalism than religious zeal. The completion of Cologne's medieval cathedral was an affirmation of German culture. In the Habsburg empire, Czechs and Hungarians similarly expressed national pride through Gothic architecture.

Champions of the Gothic claimed by the 1850s that the style was triumphant in Europe. But classical architecture remained a serious rival, even in church building. Much of the most important Gothic work was in church restoration. In Germany and France, goldsmiths like Franz Xaver Hellner supplied Gothic church furnishings.

Descriptive line

Ruby glass mounted in silver-gilt, embellished with cabochons and enamels, Birmingham hallmarks for 1858-9, designed by John Hardman Powell

Labels and date

Flagon

A flagon was used in both Protestant and Roman Catholic worship to hold the communion wine during Holy Communion. The designer of this example, John Hardman Powell, became chief designer for Hardman's in 1852. He was the pupil and son-in-law of the influential architect A.W.N. Pugin, who promoted the Gothic as the true Christian style. The flagon, which was shown at the International Exhibition of 1862, continues the Pugin style.

Birmingham, England, 1858-9; designed by John Hardman Powell (1827-95),
made by John Hardman & Co.
Ruby glass, silver gilt, enamel and cabochons
Museum no. M.39-1972 [22/11/2005]

Categories

Metalwork; Drinking; Christianity; Religion

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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