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ID number:  BIRBI-54.5
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Artist / Maker:  Unknown Italian maker and British goldsmith Paul Storr (1771 – 1844)
Title / Object name:  Bloodstone bowl and setting
Object type:  Art object
Culture:  English
Date made:  The mounts, London, 1824/5 and the hardstone, perhaps Milan, about 1600
Materials:  Heliotrope (bloodstone), jasper and silver gilt
Measurements:  57.658 x 50.292 x 32.512 cm
Provenance:  Purchased at Christie's, 25 June 1954, lot 135, for £410

The bloodstone, a type of gemstone also known as a heliotrope, was probably fashioned into a bowl around 1600, perhaps in a workshop in Milan. The dolphin mount and the setting were created 200 years later by the leading British goldsmith Paul Storr. He made this for William Beckford, who commissioned many works of art, known as ‘objects of vertu’. These were exquisitely crafted small luxury pieces, here used to display rare imported stones, such as heliotrope, which was mostly found in India.

Beckford’s wealth came from his and his family’s involvement in the slave trade; at one point his father, Alderman Beckford, owned thirteen sugar plantations which enslaved 3,000 people in Jamaica. They were probably the largest, plantation and slave owners in the West Indies. Beckford also received financial compensation from the government following the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833.

The bowl appears in a painting by Willes Maddox from 1844, now in Beckford’s Tower and Museum in Bath, which depicts Beckford’s favourite objects in his home at Lansdown Crescent in Bath. Beckford was a passionate collector and became highly influential in the development of British aesthetics. Using the wealth he acquired through the slave trade, he amassed one of the greatest collections of paintings including works by Titian and Raphael, decorative art pieces and furniture in Europe at the time. He also commissioned monumental buildings to house his collections, such as Lansdown Tower and Fonthill Abbey. His collection is now dispersed across numerous galleries and museums across the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the V&A, the British Museum, the National Gallery, the Fitzwilliam Museum and the National Museum of Scotland.

Inscriptions / Translations:  Hall mark: London 1824. Makers mark: P S.

Notes:  Exhibited: 'William Beckford, 1760-1844: An Eye for the Magnificent', Bard Graduate Center, New York, USA, 18 October 2001 - 06 January 2002; 'William Beckford, 1760-1844: An Eye for the Magnificent', Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, UK, 06 February 2002 - 14 April 2002; 'Of Exceptional and Outstanding Merit: Treasures from the Barber Institute of Fine Arts', Wallace Collection, London, UK, 22 May 2013 - 01 September 2013

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