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{"id":7414225305750,"title":"A Fine Silver Gilt Pair of Pompeiian Kantharoi Replicas","handle":"a-fine-silver-gilt-pair-of-pompeiian-kantharoi-replicas","description":"This stunning pair of silver gilt kantharoi (footed vases with twin handles) are replicas of the pair of kantharoi discovered by Wilhelm Zahn during his excavations at Pompeii in 1835. Oomersi Mawji is known to have made several of these replica vessels. Most of Mawji’s Kantharoi are now within museum collections, but these are the only pair known to us. The two kantharos are not identical, the scenes around the bodies are different and complimentary; featuring the same characters. They have been executed using repousse and chased techniques and the height of the relief varies from barely discernible to very high, according to the subject matter. (More information about the scenes and the Pompeiian discovery can be found below.)\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eMany silversmiths made replicas of these famous kantharoi. Firstly, Italian silversmiths would have made copies to sell to tourists as souvenirs. Italy had been the favourite visiting place of those undertaking their ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe. This was made by young and affluent, predominantly British, aristocrats and had become a rite of passage. With the development of rail travel during the nineteenth century, journeys to Continental Europe became more accessible to the British and more affordable for those lower down the social scale. Consequently, the appeal diminished for the elite and aristocratic ‘Grand Tours’ largely ceased.\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eLater, silversmiths in London, Paris etc. created fine silver replicas of the kantharoi as delightful decorative objects and conversation pieces. Firms such as Elkington \u0026amp; Co, then produced electro-type plated replicas, which were much cheaper. It is probable that Mawji handled either silver or electro-type replicas and copied them.\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eAnother object from Pompeii which Mawji replicated, was a statue of Narcissus which was discovered in 1862, almost thirty years later. The statue was found in an unremarkable house which later became known as Casa di Narcisso, the House of the Statue of Narcissus. This was the last statue to be discovered at Pompeii and it has been described as the most beautiful bronze to have ever been discovered there. Mawji made a magnificent silver replica of the bronze statue, but at half the size of the original.\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eMawji’s interest in Italy may well have been ignited by the building of a new palace for the Maharoa of Kutch in Bhuj, which was Mawji’s home town. This project started in 1865, during the reign of Pragmal II. The building was designed by architect and former British Indian army officer, General Henry St Clair Wilkins, who also supervised the construction. This palace, which became known as the Prag Mahal, was completed in 1879 during the regency of Pragmal’s son, Khengarji III. It was designed in an Italianate style which has variously been described as Italian Gothic, Romanesque and Indo-Saracenic Revival.\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eAlongside scores of local builders and labourers, many Italian artisans were brought over from Italy to labour on the palace’s construction and ornamentation. The building featured Italian marble, a clock tower, Corinthian columns, chandeliers, classical statues and jali work, depicting European plants and animals. As Mawji is known to have been working in Bhuj during the long building project, it is very likely that he became deeply interested in the palace’s design and construction and likely met some of the Italian craftsmen involved in the project, perhaps even becoming friends with some, particularly after he was appointed Royal Silversmith to the Maharao which probably necessitated his visiting the construction site.\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eThe date of the palace’s completion dovetailed with a collection of Oomersi Mawji’s silver being exhibited In Paris at the International Exposition of 1878. George Birdwood wrote, ‘Lord Northbrook (former Viceroy of India from 1872 – 6) exhibited at Paris (the Paris International Exposition of 1878) some fine Kutch repousse work by Umersi Manji, a goldsmith of Katch, Bhuj’. It is very probable that some pieces of European style would have formed part of this consignment. They would have been popular with spectators and presented Mawji with a unique opportunity to demonstrate his versatility. The underside of the kantharoi bear the marks ‘O.M’ and ‘BHUJ’, which Mawji used between 1860 and 1890.\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e‘The Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Chronicle’ for 1835 carried an announcement of the kantharoi’s discovery by archaeologist, Professor Wilhelm Zahn, who was in charge of excavations at Pompeii:-\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e“In a house of the Strada Mercurio …….. he found fourteen silver vessels, a quantity of coin ……… also two silver vases five inches in diameter ornamented with cupids and centaurs, with rustic and Bacchanalian emblems.”\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e‘The Friend’, quoting the ‘London Literary Gazette’, published the date of their discovery as 23rd March 1835. Subsequently, the house where the kantharoi were discovered became known as the Casa dei Vasi d’Argento or the House of the Silver Vases. The vessels were taken to the Royal Museum of Naples (now the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (National Archaeological Museum of Naples) and placed on public view. They are still housed in this Museum today.\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eWilhelm Zahn published his discoveries at Pompeii by issuing a series of lithographs. A drawing of the kantharoi appear in one, together with drawings of the scenes which ornament the bodies of the vessels.\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eA Museum of Naples publication describes and explains the scenes:- \"Pair of Kantharoi with Centaurs - The reliefs on one represent a Centaur, with rod and crater (krater - two handled vase), in the act of crouching on his hind legs, turned toward a small cupid who is attempting to climb on his back. In the background is the sacred enclosure with amphors over the portico. On the other side of the cup is a Centauress with cupid, poised as above: the Centauress holds a \"pedum\" or crook and her nebris (the skin of a fawn as worn by Dionysus and his followers (maenads)) is filled with fruit. The idol of Dyonisos, seated on a garlanded pillar, is turned facing the shrine of the God and so is the tree crowned with a pediment.\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eThe same couple of Centaurs mounted by cupids also decorate the second cup, with the difference that the Centaur holds a twig of pine-tree and a leopard-skin, while Eros plays on a lyre. The Centauress, with her leopard-skin, is seen in the act of pouring liquid from a \"rython\" (rhyton) into a phial. The landscape is symbolic of the Dyonisiac rite: a tree with bells, a pediment with garlands and ribbons crowned by an amphor, are all placed facing a shrine. The style of these reliefs, where perspective is expressed in every form from high-reliefs to light graffiti, is very similar to that of Greek pictorial sculture\".\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eProvenance:-\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eDimensions:- Height 14 cms; Width 17 cms diameter\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eWeight:- 1530 grammes – combined weight\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eReferences:-\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eThe Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Chronicle, page 303, 1835,\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eThe Friend, A religious and literary journal edited by Robert Smith, no. 34, Volume X,\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003ePrinted by Adam Waldie, Philadelphia 1837 Museum of Naples publication www.anobii.com\/books\/Il_museo_nazionale_di_napoli\/016c0bf...\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eVidya Dehejia, Delight in Design – Indian Silver for the Raj, Mapin Publishing, India 2008\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eGeorge Birdwood, The Industrial Arts of India, Volume I, page 151, Chapman and Hall, London 1880\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eWynyard R T Wilkinson, Indian Silver 1858-1947, Decorative Silver from the Indian Subcontinent and Burma, Made by Local Craftsmen in Western Forms, W Wilkinson \u0026amp; Indar Pashrical Fine Arts, London 1997\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eGiorgio Busetti, Silver Kantharos from Pompeii, ASCAS online\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eMuseum of Fine Arts, Boston U.S.A. Accession No. 2013.632","published_at":"2022-03-28T16:55:27+01:00","created_at":"2022-03-28T11:16:49+01:00","vendor":"Joseph Cohen Antiques","type":"Silver Gilt","tags":["Sold Archive"],"price":3000000,"price_min":3000000,"price_max":3000000,"available":false,"price_varies":false,"compare_at_price":null,"compare_at_price_min":0,"compare_at_price_max":0,"compare_at_price_varies":false,"variants":[{"id":41596924625046,"title":"Default Title","option1":"Default Title","option2":null,"option3":null,"sku":"JC-SILV-06952","requires_shipping":true,"taxable":true,"featured_image":null,"available":false,"name":"A Fine Silver Gilt Pair of Pompeiian Kantharoi Replicas","public_title":null,"options":["Default Title"],"price":3000000,"weight":0,"compare_at_price":null,"inventory_management":"shopify","barcode":"","requires_selling_plan":false,"selling_plan_allocations":[]}],"images":["\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/A-Fine-Silver-Gilt-Pair-of-Pompeiian-Kantharoi-Replicas.jpg?v=1648483361","\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/Silver-Gilt-Pair-of-Pompeiian-Kantharoi-Replicas.jpg?v=1648489323","\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/Silver-Gilt-Pompeiian.jpg?v=1648491365","\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/Silver-Gilt-Pompeiian-Kantharoi-Replicas.jpg?v=1648491365","\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/A-Fine-Silver-Gilt-Pair-of-Pompeiian-Replicas.jpg?v=1648491365","\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/A-Fine-Silver-Gilt-Pair-Replicas.jpg?v=1648491365","\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/Silver-Gilt-Pompeiian-Replicas.jpg?v=1648491365","\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/A-Fine-Silver-Gilt-Pompeiian-Kantharoi-Replicas.jpg?v=1648489725","\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/O-M-Bhuj.jpg?v=1648489739"],"featured_image":"\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/A-Fine-Silver-Gilt-Pair-of-Pompeiian-Kantharoi-Replicas.jpg?v=1648483361","options":["Title"],"media":[{"alt":"A 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Replicas","id":25242815561878,"position":8,"preview_image":{"aspect_ratio":1.0,"height":1302,"width":1302,"src":"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/A-Fine-Silver-Gilt-Pompeiian-Kantharoi-Replicas.jpg?v=1648489725"},"aspect_ratio":1.0,"height":1302,"media_type":"image","src":"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/A-Fine-Silver-Gilt-Pompeiian-Kantharoi-Replicas.jpg?v=1648489725","width":1302},{"alt":"O,M Bhuj","id":25242817691798,"position":9,"preview_image":{"aspect_ratio":1.0,"height":549,"width":549,"src":"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/O-M-Bhuj.jpg?v=1648489739"},"aspect_ratio":1.0,"height":549,"media_type":"image","src":"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0124\/1507\/4394\/products\/O-M-Bhuj.jpg?v=1648489739","width":549}],"requires_selling_plan":false,"selling_plan_groups":[],"content":"This stunning pair of silver gilt kantharoi (footed vases with twin handles) are replicas of the pair of kantharoi discovered by Wilhelm Zahn during his excavations at Pompeii in 1835. Oomersi Mawji is known to have made several of these replica vessels. Most of Mawji’s Kantharoi are now within museum collections, but these are the only pair known to us. The two kantharos are not identical, the scenes around the bodies are different and complimentary; featuring the same characters. They have been executed using repousse and chased techniques and the height of the relief varies from barely discernible to very high, according to the subject matter. (More information about the scenes and the Pompeiian discovery can be found below.)\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eMany silversmiths made replicas of these famous kantharoi. Firstly, Italian silversmiths would have made copies to sell to tourists as souvenirs. Italy had been the favourite visiting place of those undertaking their ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe. This was made by young and affluent, predominantly British, aristocrats and had become a rite of passage. With the development of rail travel during the nineteenth century, journeys to Continental Europe became more accessible to the British and more affordable for those lower down the social scale. Consequently, the appeal diminished for the elite and aristocratic ‘Grand Tours’ largely ceased.\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eLater, silversmiths in London, Paris etc. created fine silver replicas of the kantharoi as delightful decorative objects and conversation pieces. Firms such as Elkington \u0026amp; Co, then produced electro-type plated replicas, which were much cheaper. It is probable that Mawji handled either silver or electro-type replicas and copied them.\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eAnother object from Pompeii which Mawji replicated, was a statue of Narcissus which was discovered in 1862, almost thirty years later. The statue was found in an unremarkable house which later became known as Casa di Narcisso, the House of the Statue of Narcissus. This was the last statue to be discovered at Pompeii and it has been described as the most beautiful bronze to have ever been discovered there. Mawji made a magnificent silver replica of the bronze statue, but at half the size of the original.\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eMawji’s interest in Italy may well have been ignited by the building of a new palace for the Maharoa of Kutch in Bhuj, which was Mawji’s home town. This project started in 1865, during the reign of Pragmal II. The building was designed by architect and former British Indian army officer, General Henry St Clair Wilkins, who also supervised the construction. This palace, which became known as the Prag Mahal, was completed in 1879 during the regency of Pragmal’s son, Khengarji III. It was designed in an Italianate style which has variously been described as Italian Gothic, Romanesque and Indo-Saracenic Revival.\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eAlongside scores of local builders and labourers, many Italian artisans were brought over from Italy to labour on the palace’s construction and ornamentation. The building featured Italian marble, a clock tower, Corinthian columns, chandeliers, classical statues and jali work, depicting European plants and animals. As Mawji is known to have been working in Bhuj during the long building project, it is very likely that he became deeply interested in the palace’s design and construction and likely met some of the Italian craftsmen involved in the project, perhaps even becoming friends with some, particularly after he was appointed Royal Silversmith to the Maharao which probably necessitated his visiting the construction site.\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eThe date of the palace’s completion dovetailed with a collection of Oomersi Mawji’s silver being exhibited In Paris at the International Exposition of 1878. George Birdwood wrote, ‘Lord Northbrook (former Viceroy of India from 1872 – 6) exhibited at Paris (the Paris International Exposition of 1878) some fine Kutch repousse work by Umersi Manji, a goldsmith of Katch, Bhuj’. It is very probable that some pieces of European style would have formed part of this consignment. They would have been popular with spectators and presented Mawji with a unique opportunity to demonstrate his versatility. The underside of the kantharoi bear the marks ‘O.M’ and ‘BHUJ’, which Mawji used between 1860 and 1890.\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e‘The Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Chronicle’ for 1835 carried an announcement of the kantharoi’s discovery by archaeologist, Professor Wilhelm Zahn, who was in charge of excavations at Pompeii:-\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e“In a house of the Strada Mercurio …….. he found fourteen silver vessels, a quantity of coin ……… also two silver vases five inches in diameter ornamented with cupids and centaurs, with rustic and Bacchanalian emblems.”\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e‘The Friend’, quoting the ‘London Literary Gazette’, published the date of their discovery as 23rd March 1835. Subsequently, the house where the kantharoi were discovered became known as the Casa dei Vasi d’Argento or the House of the Silver Vases. The vessels were taken to the Royal Museum of Naples (now the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (National Archaeological Museum of Naples) and placed on public view. They are still housed in this Museum today.\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eWilhelm Zahn published his discoveries at Pompeii by issuing a series of lithographs. A drawing of the kantharoi appear in one, together with drawings of the scenes which ornament the bodies of the vessels.\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eA Museum of Naples publication describes and explains the scenes:- \"Pair of Kantharoi with Centaurs - The reliefs on one represent a Centaur, with rod and crater (krater - two handled vase), in the act of crouching on his hind legs, turned toward a small cupid who is attempting to climb on his back. In the background is the sacred enclosure with amphors over the portico. On the other side of the cup is a Centauress with cupid, poised as above: the Centauress holds a \"pedum\" or crook and her nebris (the skin of a fawn as worn by Dionysus and his followers (maenads)) is filled with fruit. The idol of Dyonisos, seated on a garlanded pillar, is turned facing the shrine of the God and so is the tree crowned with a pediment.\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eThe same couple of Centaurs mounted by cupids also decorate the second cup, with the difference that the Centaur holds a twig of pine-tree and a leopard-skin, while Eros plays on a lyre. The Centauress, with her leopard-skin, is seen in the act of pouring liquid from a \"rython\" (rhyton) into a phial. The landscape is symbolic of the Dyonisiac rite: a tree with bells, a pediment with garlands and ribbons crowned by an amphor, are all placed facing a shrine. The style of these reliefs, where perspective is expressed in every form from high-reliefs to light graffiti, is very similar to that of Greek pictorial sculture\".\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eProvenance:-\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eDimensions:- Height 14 cms; Width 17 cms diameter\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eWeight:- 1530 grammes – combined weight\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eReferences:-\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eThe Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Chronicle, page 303, 1835,\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eThe Friend, A religious and literary journal edited by Robert Smith, no. 34, Volume X,\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003ePrinted by Adam Waldie, Philadelphia 1837 Museum of Naples publication www.anobii.com\/books\/Il_museo_nazionale_di_napoli\/016c0bf...\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eVidya Dehejia, Delight in Design – Indian Silver for the Raj, Mapin Publishing, India 2008\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eGeorge Birdwood, The Industrial Arts of India, Volume I, page 151, Chapman and Hall, London 1880\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eWynyard R T Wilkinson, Indian Silver 1858-1947, Decorative Silver from the Indian Subcontinent and Burma, Made by Local Craftsmen in Western Forms, W Wilkinson \u0026amp; Indar Pashrical Fine Arts, London 1997\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eGiorgio Busetti, Silver Kantharos from Pompeii, ASCAS online\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003e\u003cbr data-mce-fragment=\"1\"\u003eMuseum of Fine Arts, Boston U.S.A. Accession No. 2013.632"}

A Fine Silver Gilt Pair of Pompeiian Kantharoi Replicas

Product Description
This stunning pair of silver gilt kantharoi (footed vases with twin handles) are replicas of the pair of kantharoi discovered by Wilhelm Zahn during his excavations at Pompeii in 1835. Oomersi Mawji is known to have made several of these replica vessels. Most of Mawji’s Kantharoi are now within museum collections, but these are the only pair known to us. The two kantharos are not identical, the scenes around the bodies are different and complimentary; featuring the same characters. They have been executed using repousse and chased techniques and the height of the relief varies from barely discernible to very high, according to the subject matter. (More information about the scenes and the Pompeiian discovery can be found below.)

Many silversmiths made replicas of these famous kantharoi. Firstly, Italian silversmiths would have made copies to sell to tourists as souvenirs. Italy had been the favourite visiting place of those undertaking their ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe. This was made by young and affluent, predominantly British, aristocrats and had become a rite of passage. With the development of rail travel during the nineteenth century, journeys to Continental Europe became more accessible to the British and more affordable for those lower down the social scale. Consequently, the appeal diminished for the elite and aristocratic ‘Grand Tours’ largely ceased.

Later, silversmiths in London, Paris etc. created fine silver replicas of the kantharoi as delightful decorative objects and conversation pieces. Firms such as Elkington & Co, then produced electro-type plated replicas, which were much cheaper. It is probable that Mawji handled either silver or electro-type replicas and copied them.

Another object from Pompeii which Mawji replicated, was a statue of Narcissus which was discovered in 1862, almost thirty years later. The statue was found in an unremarkable house which later became known as Casa di Narcisso, the House of the Statue of Narcissus. This was the last statue to be discovered at Pompeii and it has been described as the most beautiful bronze to have ever been discovered there. Mawji made a magnificent silver replica of the bronze statue, but at half the size of the original.

Mawji’s interest in Italy may well have been ignited by the building of a new palace for the Maharoa of Kutch in Bhuj, which was Mawji’s home town. This project started in 1865, during the reign of Pragmal II. The building was designed by architect and former British Indian army officer, General Henry St Clair Wilkins, who also supervised the construction. This palace, which became known as the Prag Mahal, was completed in 1879 during the regency of Pragmal’s son, Khengarji III. It was designed in an Italianate style which has variously been described as Italian Gothic, Romanesque and Indo-Saracenic Revival.

Alongside scores of local builders and labourers, many Italian artisans were brought over from Italy to labour on the palace’s construction and ornamentation. The building featured Italian marble, a clock tower, Corinthian columns, chandeliers, classical statues and jali work, depicting European plants and animals. As Mawji is known to have been working in Bhuj during the long building project, it is very likely that he became deeply interested in the palace’s design and construction and likely met some of the Italian craftsmen involved in the project, perhaps even becoming friends with some, particularly after he was appointed Royal Silversmith to the Maharao which probably necessitated his visiting the construction site.

The date of the palace’s completion dovetailed with a collection of Oomersi Mawji’s silver being exhibited In Paris at the International Exposition of 1878. George Birdwood wrote, ‘Lord Northbrook (former Viceroy of India from 1872 – 6) exhibited at Paris (the Paris International Exposition of 1878) some fine Kutch repousse work by Umersi Manji, a goldsmith of Katch, Bhuj’. It is very probable that some pieces of European style would have formed part of this consignment. They would have been popular with spectators and presented Mawji with a unique opportunity to demonstrate his versatility. The underside of the kantharoi bear the marks ‘O.M’ and ‘BHUJ’, which Mawji used between 1860 and 1890.

‘The Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Chronicle’ for 1835 carried an announcement of the kantharoi’s discovery by archaeologist, Professor Wilhelm Zahn, who was in charge of excavations at Pompeii:-

“In a house of the Strada Mercurio …….. he found fourteen silver vessels, a quantity of coin ……… also two silver vases five inches in diameter ornamented with cupids and centaurs, with rustic and Bacchanalian emblems.”

‘The Friend’, quoting the ‘London Literary Gazette’, published the date of their discovery as 23rd March 1835. Subsequently, the house where the kantharoi were discovered became known as the Casa dei Vasi d’Argento or the House of the Silver Vases. The vessels were taken to the Royal Museum of Naples (now the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (National Archaeological Museum of Naples) and placed on public view. They are still housed in this Museum today.

Wilhelm Zahn published his discoveries at Pompeii by issuing a series of lithographs. A drawing of the kantharoi appear in one, together with drawings of the scenes which ornament the bodies of the vessels.

A Museum of Naples publication describes and explains the scenes:- "Pair of Kantharoi with Centaurs - The reliefs on one represent a Centaur, with rod and crater (krater - two handled vase), in the act of crouching on his hind legs, turned toward a small cupid who is attempting to climb on his back. In the background is the sacred enclosure with amphors over the portico. On the other side of the cup is a Centauress with cupid, poised as above: the Centauress holds a "pedum" or crook and her nebris (the skin of a fawn as worn by Dionysus and his followers (maenads)) is filled with fruit. The idol of Dyonisos, seated on a garlanded pillar, is turned facing the shrine of the God and so is the tree crowned with a pediment.

The same couple of Centaurs mounted by cupids also decorate the second cup, with the difference that the Centaur holds a twig of pine-tree and a leopard-skin, while Eros plays on a lyre. The Centauress, with her leopard-skin, is seen in the act of pouring liquid from a "rython" (rhyton) into a phial. The landscape is symbolic of the Dyonisiac rite: a tree with bells, a pediment with garlands and ribbons crowned by an amphor, are all placed facing a shrine. The style of these reliefs, where perspective is expressed in every form from high-reliefs to light graffiti, is very similar to that of Greek pictorial sculture".

Provenance:-

Dimensions:- Height 14 cms; Width 17 cms diameter

Weight:- 1530 grammes – combined weight

References:-

The Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Chronicle, page 303, 1835,

The Friend, A religious and literary journal edited by Robert Smith, no. 34, Volume X,

Printed by Adam Waldie, Philadelphia 1837 Museum of Naples publication www.anobii.com/books/Il_museo_nazionale_di_napoli/016c0bf...

Vidya Dehejia, Delight in Design – Indian Silver for the Raj, Mapin Publishing, India 2008

George Birdwood, The Industrial Arts of India, Volume I, page 151, Chapman and Hall, London 1880

Wynyard R T Wilkinson, Indian Silver 1858-1947, Decorative Silver from the Indian Subcontinent and Burma, Made by Local Craftsmen in Western Forms, W Wilkinson & Indar Pashrical Fine Arts, London 1997

Giorgio Busetti, Silver Kantharos from Pompeii, ASCAS online

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston U.S.A. Accession No. 2013.632
Sku: JC-SILV-06952
£30,000.00
Maximum quantity available reached.

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