Lot 122 (Islamic & Indian Art, 29th October 2020)
A FRAGMENT OF A VENETO-SARACENIC SILVER-INLAID BRASS INCENSE BURNER
Egypt or Syria, mid to late 15th century
Of spherical shape, half of a full incense burner, the brass surface engraved and pierced, the centre decorated with a band of intricate, silver-inlaid knotwork in the shape of stars and arabesques, framed within two concentric bands of interlocking cartouches filled with scrolling vegetal trellis and rosette roundels, at the top a large circular medallion with a delicate knotted interlace radiating from a central cross and yielding a variety of shapes such as flower heads, arabesques and more crosses, 14.5cm diam.
A number of these spherical incense burners is now part of well-known museum collections around the world, especially in Italy. Indeed, the gusto for Veneto-Saracenic metals seems to have prospered during the 15th and 16th centuries, boosted by the great mercantile and cultural exchanges fostered by the Medici family in Florence. Worthy of mention here are the "bruciaprofumi" (recorded in old Italian inventories as "scaldamani", hand-warmers) of the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence (OdA 1911 no. 150), one of the earliest examples dating 1317 - 1335; and the one in the Museo Poldi-Pezzoli, Milan (no. 765), in the collection since at least the late 1870s and once erroneously attributed to the work of Persian craftsmen.
Similar incense burners have been successfully selling at auction in the London art market. For reference, please see Christie's London, 4 April 2006, lot 81 and 13 April 2010, lot 57; and Christie's South Kensington, 8 April 2011, lot 131.
Sold for £3,250
Includes Buyer's Premium