Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries

Flagon

1858-1859 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Ruby glass, mounted in silver gilt and embellished with cabochons and enamels
Brief Description
Ruby glass mounted in silver-gilt, embellished with cabochons and enamels, Birmingham hallmarks for 1858-9, designed by John Hardman Powell
Physical Description
Ruby glass, mounted in silver gilt and embellished with cabochons and enamels
Dimensions
  • Height: 32.5cm
  • Length: 15.0cm
  • Width: 13.0cm
Marks and Inscriptions
Birmingham 1858-9, Designed by John Hardman Powell (1827-1895)
Gallery Label
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)
Credit line
Formerly in the collection of Charles and Lavinia Handley-Read.
Object history
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
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.
Summary
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.
Collection
Accession Number
M.39-1972

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record createdMarch 3, 2004
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