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Burges Decanter


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Title/s

Burges Decanter

Maker/s

Burges, William (designer) [ULAN info: British architect, 1827-1881]

Mendelson, Josiah (mount maker)

Angell, George (mount maker)

Category

glass
silver

Name

decanter

School/Style

High Victorian

Gothic Revival

Description

Green glass, mounted in silver set with malachite, semi-precious stone, cloisonné enamels, coral cameos, intaglios, classical coins, ivory and rock crystal

Dark green blown glass body, mounted in silver with applied and engraved ornament, set with malachite panels, semi-precious stone, cloisonné enamels, two 17th century coral cameos each of a nymph's head, one of Cupid holding a basket, and another of Cupid holding a garland, a Roman first century AD nicolo intaglio of a sleeping hound, a Sassanian 5th or 6th century cornelian intaglio of a personal device Greek, Roman and Byzantine coins, and on the cover, a Chinese rock crystal Buddhist lion. The cast silver handle is in the form of a lion with an ivory head, and the spout is cast in the form of an antelope's head with a silver stopper attached by a chain. The foot is engraved with a hedgehog, a frog, a mouse, and a wren with a worm in its beak, and the 'signature' 'I WREN' for Jenny Wren. The partly obscured inscription on the neck reads: WILLIELMUS BURGES ME FIERI FECIT ANNO DI MDCCLXV EX HONS ECCL[ESI]AE CONSTANTINOPOLITANAE

Production Notes

William Burges was one of the most talented English architects of the High Victorian Gothic Revival. His eclectic taste, love of vivid colouring, and super-abundant inventive powers broought forth a stram of idosyncratic designs for buildings and domestic objects. This decanter demonstrates his flair for combining disparate elements to create an aesthetically satisfying whole. Burges had already conceived the design in 1858, when a similar vessel was shown with several pieces of metalwork in a watercolour serving as the frontispiece of his Orfèvrerie Domestique (RIBA Drawings collection). On the 10th, 11th and 12th sheets of this, there are further drawings for the decanter, the last of which is dated 1864. It was made in 1865 as were two variants: one made for Burges himself, now in the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford; the other made for James Nicholson, and now in the Victoria and Albert Museum (see Documtation). The decoration of the mounts is reminiscent of early medieval crucifixes studded with re-used Roman cameos, intaglios, and uncut gemstones. The foliage applied to the body is also medieval in inspiration, as are the animals humorously engraved on the foot. The inscription indicates that Burges paid for the decanter from the fees which he had received for his prize-winning design of 1856 and later modifications to it, for the Crimea Memorial Church in Constantinople. This, like several of his architectural projects, was never built because its estimated cost proved too high.

Production Place

London (designer) (place)

London (mount maker) (place)

England (mount maker) (country)

English (mount maker) (nationality)

Technique Description

dark green blown glass body, mounted in silver with applied and engraved ornament, set with malachite panels, semi-precious stones, cloisonné enamels, coral cameos, Roman and Sassanian intaglios, Greek, Roman and Byzantine coins, and on the cover, a Chinese rock crystal Buddhist lion. The cast silver handle is in the form of a lion with an ivory head, and the spout is cast in the form of an antelope's head with a silver stopper attached by a chain

Dimensions

height: (overall): 10¾ in
height: (overall): 27.3 cm
width: (overall): 7½ in
width: (overall): 19 cm
diameter: (foot): 4¼ in
diameter: (foot): 10.7 cm

Period

third quarter of 19th century
Victorian

Date

1865 to 1866

Provenance

bought: Handley-Read Estate 1972-10-19 (Filtered for: Applied Arts collection)

William Burges (1827-1881). Charles Handley-Read (1916-1972)and Lavinia Handley-Read (d. 1972); purchased from Thomas Stainton, Executor of the Handley-Read Estate

Purchased with the Perceval Fund and with the Regional Fund administered by the Victoria & Albert Museum

Inscriptions/Marks

  1. inscription
    Position: on the foot
    Method: engraved
    Content: I WREN
    Description:
    Interpretation: Jenny Wren
    Language:
  2. inscription
    Position: on neck
    Method: engraved
    Content: WILLIELMUS BURGES ME FIERI FECIT ANNO DI MDCCLXV EX HONS ECCL[ESI]AE CONSTANTINOPOLITANAE
    Description:
    Interpretation: indicates that Burges paid for the decanter from the fees which he had received for his prize-winning design of 1856 and later modifications to it for the Crimea Memorail Church in Constantinople, never built
    Language: Latin
  3. maker's mark
    Position: on mount on front and on foot
    Method: struck
    Content: JM
    Description:
    Interpretation: Josiah Mendelson
  4. hallmark
    Position: on mount on front and on foot
    Method: struck
    Content:
    Description: lion passant
    Interpretation: sterling standard silver
  5. hallmark
    Position: on mount
    Method: struck
    Content:
    Description: leopard's head
    Interpretation: London
  6. hallmark
    Position: on mount on front and on foot
    Method: struck
    Content: k
    Description:
    Interpretation: London date letter for 1865-66
  7. hallmark
    Position: on mount on front and on foot
    Method: struck
    Content:
    Description: monarch's head
    Interpretation: indicates duty paid
  8. maker's mark
    Position: on hoop over finial
    Method: struck
    Content: GA
    Description:
    Interpretation: George Angell
  9. hallmark
    Position: on hoop over finial
    Method: struck
    Description: lion passant
    Interpretation: sterling standard silver
  10. hallmark
    Position: on hoop over finial
    Method: struck
    Description: monarch's head
    Interpretation: indicates duty paid

Documentation

  1. (1972) Victorian and Edwardian Decorative Art , The Handley-Read Collection, London [page: 33]
    [comments: Publ. p. 33, no. B88 and illustrated on front cover]
  2. (1973) Fitzwilliam.. The Annual Reports of the Fitzwilliam Museum Syndicate and the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Cambridge for the Year ending 31 December 1972, Cambridge (Cambs.) [page: 10]
    [comments: Publ. p. 10, and pl. V]
  3. Johnson, Diana L. (1979) Fantastic Illustration and Design in Britain 1850-1930, New York [page: 52]
    [comments: Publ. p. 52, no. 27]
  4. Robinson, Duncan (1980) Morris & Company in Cambridge, Cambridge (Cambs.): Cambridge University Press [page: 13]
    [comments: Publ. p. 13, no. 20]
  5. Crook, J. Mordaunt (1981) The Strange Genius of William Burges - 'Art Architect', 1827-1881, London [page: 111]
    [comments: Publ. p. 111, no. C.46]
  6. Crook, J. Mordaunt (1981) William Burges and the High Victorian Dream, London
    [comments: Published pl. 240. Cf. Designs pls. 238 and 239, and another decanter, pl. 237]
  7. (1989) Treasures from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (Cambs.): The Fitzwilliam Museum [page: 132]
    [comments: Publ. p. 132, no. 133]
  8. Henig, Martin (1994) Classical Gems, Ancient and Modern Intaglios and Cameos in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Cambridge (Cambs.): Cambridge University Press [page: 485-7]
    [comments: Publ, Appendix III, The Burges Ewer, illustrated with catalogue of the gems and cameos, nos. 1072a-f]
  9. Cambridges alla skrytobject,
    Source title: Göteborgs Posten (4 January 1995)
    [comments: Publ.]
  10. The Lady, 3-9 January 1995, 3-9 January 1995)
    [comments: Publ.]
  11. (2005) Treasures of the Fitzwilliam Museum, London: Scala [page: 167]
    [comments: Publ. p. 167, colour illustration with brief text]
  12. McConnell, Andy (2004) The Decanter, An Illustrated History of Glass from 1650, Woodbridge: The Antique Collectors' Club [page: 333]
    [comments: Publ. p. 333, pl. 467]
  13. Culme, John (1987) The Directory of Gold and Silversmiths Jewellers and Allied Traders 1838-1914, from the London Assay Office Registers, Woodbridge: The Antique Collectors' Club
    [comments: Ref. for the marks. Vol. I, p. 324 JM; p. 11 GA under John Angell & Son; Vol. II, p. 191, 9534; p. 104, 5452 and 5453.]
  14. (1972) Victorian and Edwardian Decorative Art , The Handley-Read Collection, London [page: p. 54]
    [comments: Cf. An example in the Victoria and Albert Museum (Circ. 857-1956), p. 54, 6 , illustrated Picture Book, pl. 8]
  15. Wardle, Patricia (1963) Victorian Silver and Silver Plate, London: Herbert Jenkins Ltd [page: 158]
    [comments: Cf. The example in the Victoria and Albert Museum (Circ 857-1956), p. 158, pl. 49]
  16. (1972) Victorian and Edwardian Decorative Art , The Handley-Read Collection, London [page: 32]
    [comments: Cf. An example from the Handley-Read Collection, in the Cecil Higgins Museum, Bedford, p. 32, no. B 87, illustrated on back cover.]
  17. Building News, [page: 418] 1874)
    [comments: Ref.]
  18. The Builder, [page: 100] 1887)
    [comments: Ref.]
  19. Pullan, R.P. (1883) The Architectural Designs of William Burges, London
    [comments: Cf. pl. 17]
  20. Pullan, R.P. (1885) The House of William Burges, London
    [comments: Cf. pl.35]
  21. Sotheby's (1998) Applied Arts from 1880, London: Sotheby's [page: 52-3] 20 March 1998)
    [comments: Cf. Lot 439, a Chinese vase mounted as a bottle for Burges. Estimate £40-60,000; unsold. See also J. Mordaunt Crook, William Burges and the High Victorian Dream, London, 1981, pl. 233]

Other Notes

Accession Number

M.16-1972 (Applied Arts)
(Reference Number: 99083; Input Date: 2004-06-23 / Last Edit: 2011-07-22)

Related Resources

Pharos

Related Image/s

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