An Exceptional Large Chased Silver-Gilt Lidded Vase, silver, India, 18th-19th c., height: 35.5cm
This extraordinary, large silver-gilt vase has a form that is reminiscent of both a traditional Indian water flask and a Chinese ginger jar.
Globular, with a flared foot, a tapering neck and a tightly fitting lid surmounted by a chased knob,the vase is chiselled and chased all over with repeated flower and foliate motifs and bands of scrolling flowers and leaves.
The stylisation of the flowers and foliage is in keeping with the styles employed on eighteenth century Indian silver, and carved sandstone plaques and screens. Indeed, the pattern of spiky foliage and a blend of two flowers - what appears to be a stylised iris and a simple, four-petal flower - is reminiscent in conception and lay-out to the decoration that appears on a Mughal jade hookah base, attributed to circa 1700, in the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar. (This base, inventory no. JE.044, is illustrated in Musee du Louvre/Museum of Islamic Art-Doha, From Cordoba to Samarqand, 5 Continents Editions, 2006, pp. 100-103.)
A silver chain connects the lid to the base. Possibly a later addition, nonetheless it too has age.
There is some precedent for eighteenth century Indian silversmiths basing their shapes on Chinese metal and porcelain prototypes. For an example, see Sotheby’s New York, ‘Indian, Himalayan, South-East Asian Art and Indian Miniatures’, September 20-21, 1985, lot 669, for a silver-gilt ewer, circa 18th century, in respect of which Sotheby’s comments, “The design of this ewer would appear to be based on a Ming (1368-1644) prototype…” At 33.5cm tall, this ewer is of a similarly large dimension as the vase here.
Provenance: acquired in India towards the end of the nineteenth century and the property of an English family thereafter.
Michael Backman Ltd www.michaelbackmanltd.com (all text & images © Michael Backman Ltd)