‘Alhambra’ Vase


19th Century AD


20.16″ (51.2cm) high


Glazed Earthen ware



Gallery Location



This impressive vase or albarello dates to the second half of the nineteenth century. The distinctive form, with inverted pear-shaped body and wing-like handles, is based on a fourteenth century prototype. In Andalucia, Southern Spain, this was the era of the Nasrid Dynasty (reigned 1232-1492), the Muslim rulers responsible for the construction of the Alhambra palace in Granada. The lustre technique reached Spain from other Islamic centres in the east, particularly Iraq, Egypt and Persia. Approximately eleven of these early large ‘winged’ vases have been recovered, one found under the pavement in the Alhambra Palace hence the name.

During the nineteenth century Andalucia became an important destination for travellers, fascinated by the rich remains of Spain’s Islamic past. Entrepreneurial potters, including the Frenchman Theodore Deck, created replicas of the famous ‘Alhambra Vases.’ These works were produced to an incredibly high standard, perfectly imitating the coppery lustre and cobalt blue highlights on the fourteenth century originals. Even the decorative motifs were closely copied and this example includes a pair of confronting gazelles, panels of split-leaf arabesques and bands of calligraphy. It is a superb witness to the nineteenth century fascination with ‘oriental’ and historic styles.

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