- Museum number
Cup and cover; maple wood mounted in silver decorated with translucent enamel, formed of turned wood bowls; lid mounted in silver with a scalloped border above a band of applied scrolls with trefoil terminals; at the top an enamelled rosette, surmounted by a raised knop with foliate scrolls and set with a cabochon agate; bowl mounted with broad silver rim with inscription, at the base a silver rosette engraved with leaves; the bowl is set on a silver, enamelled foot with four interlaced quatrefoils containing grotesque beasts against a ground of diaper pattern and butterflies; inside lid, an enamelled silver medallion with a camel on a chain, red heart, arrows and letter W; inside bowl, a medallion with grotesque winged creature with bearded and capped human head and the signet WB in the centre.
- Production date
- 1878 (designed;made)
Diameter: 11.90 centimetres (bowl)
Height: 15.40 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from J. Rudoe, 'Decorative Arts 1850-1950. A catalogue of the British Museum collection.' 2nd ed. 1994. no. 29.
Burges's eclectic inspiration rarely produced objects as restrained and elegant as this cup, which illustrates his interest in French Gothic art, whether thirteenth-century manuscript illumination, from which the grotesques and diaper ground are derived, or fourteenth-century basse taille enamelling. The interior enamel medallions are characteristically full of humour - the self-portrait as a medieval man with a grotesque body -and allusions - the chained camel with heart and arrows also alludes to Burges, who often used hearts and arrows in objects designed for himself.
A number of detailed drawings for the cup and its decoration, together with a set of five similar cups that Burges designed for his friends, are preserved among the Burges drawings in the Royal Institute of British Architects, in the volume 'Orfevrerie Domestique', 15-16. Firstly there is a drawing for the cup in elevation and section, captioned 'Cup for W. Burges', with the enamelled camel medallion inside the lid, the colours as executed (Fig. 4; Orfevrerie Domestique, 16). On the previous page is a series of drawings of enamelled motifs (Fig. 5): in the centre, a set of four quatrefoils as they appear on Burges's cup, annotated 'this is one set' and 'this set is like used for my cup'. The narrow band of black squares is annotated 'this goes round all the cups'. Below is the design for the butterfly and diaper pattern between each quatrefoil, annotated 'this is common to all'. There follows another set of quatrefoils with different figures. Above are drawings for two circular medallions comparable to those inside the cup, one of which has the same bearded grotesque but with different initials, and four further medallions with initials only, including Burges's own. In each case the names are given below the medallions: A. Rivington, A.C. Bell, H. Curzon, B. Frere and R.W. Edis.
Burges's surviving Estimate Book for 12 August 1875 to 30 March 1881 (in the Victoria and Albert Museum Library, MSS 86.88.52) confirms that the cup was intended for his own use. Burges recorded details of the work carried out, the contractor, the cost and the client. Under 28 February 1878 is an entry for five silver-gilt cups with enamels made by Hart & Company. The following entry, for 7 March 1878, reads '1 do [ditto] with wood instead of silver bowl, Barkentin, "self", "£9"'. The date-letter 'c' for 1878-9 on the rim of the base of the cup indicates that this part was not completed until after May 1878, since the date-letter was changed in the month of May. The items with date-letter 'B' would have been completed between March and May 1878. The five cups for Burges's friends are probably those listed under 8 February 1878 as 'cups, maple bowl, silver and enamelled with engraved inscriptions, Barkentin, each £10. 10', to which he has added 'if silver bowls instead of maple £12. 10s.'. An annotation of 1 March 1878 reads '5 cups complete in silver for £50'.
This cup was exhibited at the Fine Art Society in 1981 (see London 1981, The Fine Art Society, 'Architect-Designers, Pugin to Mackintosh'. 18, no. 10); see also Mordaunt Crook, J., 'William Burges and the High Victorian Dream', London 1981, 316, fig. 236.
For Barkentin & Krall, see London 19 71, Victoria and Albert Museum, 'Victorian Church Art', Mordaunt Crook 1981, 212, Cardiff 1981, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, 'The Strange Genius of William Burges Art-Architect 1827-1881', exhibition catalogue (sectionc) and Culme, J., 'The Directory of Gold & Silversmiths, Jewellers and Allied Traders 1838-1914', Woodbridge 1987. Jes Barkentin, a metalworker of Danish origin, is recorded in London in the early 1860s and made his name with the silver presentation vase given by the Danish residents in Britain to Princess Alexandra on her wedding in 1863. In 1867 he replaced the firm of John Keith as silversmith to the Ecclesiological Society, with which Burges was closely associated. Barkentin was joined by the German silversmith Carl Christopher Krall c.1873 and the firm continued as Barkentin & Krall until the 1930s.
The Museum also holds a Gothic-style gold pectoral cross and chain designed by Burges, possibly also for his own use; see C. Gere in Gere et al 'The Art of the Jeweller: A Catalogue of the Hull Grundy Gift to the British Museum, 2 vols, London 1984, cat. no. 1001.
Information supplementary to Rudoe 1994:
See also M. Collins, 'Towards Post-Modernism, Design since 1851', London, British Museum, revised ed. 1994, colour pl. II..
- On display (G47/dc10)
- Conservation work in 1990 revealed hallmarks, most of which were not visible when cup is assembled, marks were recorded.
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number