View full screen - View 1 of Lot 136. A large Italian porphyry urn, 18th century and later.
136

A large Italian porphyry urn, 18th century and later

UK: Greenford Park Warehouse

Estimate:

50,000

to
- 80,000 GBP

A large Italian porphyry urn, 18th century and later

A large Italian porphyry urn, 18th century and later

Estimate:

50,000

to
- 80,000 GBP

A large Italian porphyry urn

18th century and later 


with a cover, on a waisted socle raised on a square base

157cm. high; 5ft. 1 3/4 in.

This is in overall good restored condition. Very minor chipping to edges and scratches consistent with age and use. The neck with a minor break, now repaired, to the top. The body of the urn is in good condition, with two small lighter green-ish patches of porphyry, and some minor areas with chipping and craquelure and some corresponding refills which are not too distracting. One section of the socle with two breaks which has now been repaired. The neck does not seem to fit on perfectly on the body. Of impressive scale.


The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.

Property of a Swiss Private Estate near Geneva.
This urn is particularly impressive not only for the use of porphyry, but also for its impressive scale. Egyptian porphyry, as a material, stopped being quarried in Ancient times, and its use from the Renaissance onwards was possible by reclaiming the material from Ancient monuments ruins, particularly columns. The sheer size of this urn reveals the scale of the column from which it was carved and the herculean effort that would have been involved in transporting those from Egypt in Roman times.

No other stone in Western Civilization has attained the same prestigious status as that of porphyry. A stone which embodied the power of Emperors and rulers since Antiquity, and from the end of the Roman Empire represented a means to legitimise and underline the power of any pretender to the throne. Of a deep purple color with flecks of white, the bullet hard volcanic stone was, according to Pliny’s Naturalis Historia, discovered by legionary Caius Cominius in the year 18 AD at a location now called Mons Porphyrites (Porphyry Mountain), in the eastern desert of Egypt. Romans gave the stone a name: “porphyry”, deriving from the Latin word for purple, the color of nobility. With exceptional strength and durability, its intrinsic qualities were perfectly suited to the message of power and authority but also made it extremely hard to work and carve, making objects in this hardstone both political and artistic statements. After the 5th century, the quarries ceased to be mined and Mons Porphyrites was lost to oblivion. Thereafter, the sole source for porphyry of this type used in Western Europe were ruins from Ancient Rome, imbuing the new works created with a deep spiritual connection to Antiquity.