Detail of lidded bowl, 1500–50 (plate ).An elaborate brass wine‐cup in the collection of Victoria and Albert Museum, London (plate ) exemplifies the analytic complexities this essay will explore: incised and inlaid with silver in the Levantine manner known as damascening and marked with the coat of arms of the Priuli family of Venice, the cup is a cultural composite that challenges modern art‐historical and museological classifications, specifically those based on a geography of origins. The V&A's own cataloguing points to the problem at hand. Although the cup resides in the European galleries, the museum's on‐line description lists place of origin as ‘Syria (possibly, made); Damascus, Syria (probably, decorated); Egypt (possibly, made)’, while also speculating that the cup was likely fabricated in the Middle East, the foot in Venice, and the whole sent to Syria for decoration in a single workshop. Such geographic contortions are not unique to the Priuli wine‐cup. Many objects associated with the affluent mercantile culture of early modern Venice are fusions – whether literal or conceptual – that inhibit a clear identification of origins, and this is particularly true of damascened brassware. For as the Venetian market for Levantine pieces flourished in the later fifteenth and sixteenth
Art History – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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