Height: 35.600 cm
Gift of Sir Charles Hercules Read
Room 47: Europe 1800-1900
Enamelled glass mosque lamp, by Philippe Joseph Brocard
Paris, France, AD 1867
In late nineteenth-century Europe, there was a great wave of interest in Islamic or Moorish art, which influenced many aspects of the applied arts and interior decoration. This vessel was inspired by the enamelled glass mosque lamps made during the twelfth to fourteenth centuries in Mamluk Egypt and Syria. It was decorated by Philippe Joseph Brocard (died 1896), an independent French craftsman who began his career as a restorer of antiques. Inspired by the mosque lamps he saw at the Musée de Cluny in Paris, he began to collect them and then to copy them. This particular piece is based on a specific fourteenth-century example, then owned by Gustave de Rothschild in Paris, and now in the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon, although some extra details have been added, such as the winged creatures around the foot.
The vessel is made of pale green glass. Before the enamels were applied, the surface was gilded; then the outline of the pattern was painted in red, and afterwards filled in with coloured enamels. The main decoration consists of embellished Islamic script.
It is very likely that the lamp was shown at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1867. It was originally given to The British Museum by the then Keeper of Ceramics and Glass, as a modern copy of an Islamic mosque lamp. Only in recent decades, as The British Museum has built up its collection of nineteenth-century applied arts, has the lamp been displayed as a major example of nineteenth-century historicism.
J. Rudoe, Decorative arts 1850-1950: a c, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)
M. Queiroz Ribeiro and J. Hallett, Mamluk glass in the Calouste G (Lisbon, 1999)