• Art of the Islamic and Indian  auction at Christies

    Sale 7843

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    13 April 2010, London, King Street

  • Lot 57

    A VENETO-SARACENIC SILVER-INLAID PIERCED BRASS INCENSE BURNER

    EGYPT OR SYRIA, MID-15TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A VENETO-SARACENIC SILVER-INLAID PIERCED BRASS INCENSE BURNER
    EGYPT OR SYRIA, MID-15TH CENTURY
    Of spherical form, one half decorated with radiating lobes of meandering vine, a quatrefoil motif at top, the other half with rounded medallions decorated with plaited motifs and interlaces between bands of foliage, the top with a large interlocking composition, some silver missing, the two halves associated
    5¼in. (13.3cm.) diam.


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    In her extensive study on Veneto-Saracenic metalwork, Sylvia Auld has recorded 64 incense-burners of this shape (Sylvia Auld, Renaissance Venice, Islam, and Mahmud the Kurd - a Metalworking Enigma, London, 2004, pp.108-40). Although often thought to be incense-burners, these spheres may have been used as hand-warmers. Many references in mediaeval European inventories indicate that they were very much appreciated and used in various contexts by clerics or as objets de vertu. The decoration of the upper bowl of our incense burner closely relates to that of a 15th century sphere in the British Museum (Rachel Ward, Islamic Metalwork, London, 1993, cat.92). According to Auld's classification, this sphere belongs to the group A which is "typically late Mamluk" and was probably manufactured in Syria or Egypt. The lower bowl of the sphere, which comes from another incense burner also from the group A, is similar to a sphere in the Museo Civico Medioevale in Bologna (Sylvia Auld, op.cit., cat.1.6).

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    European private collection, since early 1980s