Decanter by William Burges

Contributed by Cecil Higgins Art Gallery

Silver and glass decanter designed by William Burges in 1865 © Trustees of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford

The handle, formed by a winged monster, is based on an ancient Assyrian dagger given by Burges to the British MuseumThis decanter, formed from a pear-shaped bottle of glass encased in a silver mount, was designed by William Burges (1827-1881), architect, designer and a leading figure in the Gothic Revival movement.

Burges was fascinated by the architecture of Medieval Europe, but also by Islamic art and classical antiquities. The decanter is highly decorated with ancient coins and seals, semi-precious stones and engraved gems that Burges collected on his travels. The lion's head on the handle is made from mother-of-pearl, while on top sits a Chinese jade carving of two horses and a monkey.

The lid of the decanter has a silver arch with a bell that jingled when it was used. The spout is formed from a goat's head, the curling horns connecting to the main body of the decanter. Around the base, like the illustrations on a Medieval manuscript, are carvings of a lizard, a butterfly and a caterpillar, a snail, a ladybird, and a stag beetle.

Comments are closed for this object

Most of the content on A History of the World is created by the contributors, who are the museums and members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC or the British Museum. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site’s House Rules please Flag This Object.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.