Censer

Date: before 1477

Geography: Made in Basel, Switzerland

Culture: Swiss

Medium: Silver, raised and cast

Dimensions: Overall: 31 7/8 x 5 3/4 in. (81 x 14.6 cm)
censer without chain: 9 11/16 x 5 3/4 in. (24.6 x 14.6 cm)
Lid: 7 1/4 x 5 3/4 in. (18.4 x 14.6 cm)
Base: 2 11/16 x 5 3/4 in. (6.8 x 14.6 cm)
Chain: 25 1/2in. (64.8cm)

Classification: Metalwork-Silver

Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Accession Number: 17.190.360

Description

Octagonal in section, this censer not only draws heavily on architectural vocabulary but also, in the upper section, imitates a Gothic structure such as a centrally planned oratory or baptistery. The lowest of the three elevations is composed of eight pairs of tall, doubled windows surmounted by quatrefoils and a crocketed gable.

The architectural conceit well suits the function of the object, as the generous fenestrations allow air to fire the incense coals while providing an escape for the perfuming smoke. The four chains threaded through every other tower support the vessel; raising the fifth chain by the ring elevates the entire upper section, allowing for the addition of incense.

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