About this lot


of plain turned campana form 40 x 32cm

Footnote: Provenance: With Thomas Coulborn & Sons, Sutton Coldfield, March 2008, Private collection, Kensington, London Believed to have been used from as early as 1850 BCE, during the construction of the Minoan palace of Knossos, Crete, and reaching the height of its popularity during the late Roman Empire, porphyry has a long and noble pedigree. Discovered in 18 AD by Roman Legionaire, Caius Cominius Leugas, the porphyry favoured by the Roman and Byzantine elites was mined exclusively from Mons Porpyritis quarry located in eastern Egypt. Taking its name from the Latin for purple, already long established as Royal, porphyry was exalted as prestigious material not only due to its rich pigmentation, but also for the enormous effort it took to mine and transport the material and the high level of expertise required to carve and polish the stone. So profound were the political implications of using the material, that Byzantine rulers are typically divided into two factions: those who gained power through a coup, and those who were “born into purple”. The latter group, also known as the “porphyrogenites”, were so called due to the purple porphyry used to veneer the imperial family room in the Great Palace of Constantinople. The present lot is believed to have been carved from Blyberg porphyry mined from the quarries of Älvdalen, a Swedish municipality located northwest of Stockholm. Established in 1788 by Niels Adam Bielke, President of the Swedish Board of Mines, the Älvdalen porphyry mines aimed to generate a sustainable income for the region, which had a long history of famine and poverty. By the early 19th century, porphyry became a prized Swedish export and products crafted in the “Elfdahls Porfyrwerk” were destined to find homes in the palaces and stately homes of many foreign monarchs and dignitaries. Unlike the purple porphyry favoured by the Romans, Swedish porphyry is characterised by its dark colour.

Condition report: Minute rim chips

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