Ewer

copper and silver-gilt, painted enamel

height 23 cm

This ewer was given to Wilhelm, Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1864-1927), and Maria Theresia, Princess of Bourbon of the Two Sicilies (1867-1909), on the occasion of their wedding on 27 June 1889 – this date and their combined initials WM below a crown are stamped on the lid of the original presentation case. Such dynastic unions were celebrated by a plethora of presents, which were conspicuously displayed at the time of the nuptials. Selecting something that correctly reflected the status of the giver was important, as the gift was exhibited with an accompanying card. By the late 19th century decorative objects like the present ewer – eye-catching and devoid of function – were seen as appropriate gifts. That these gifts were quickly returned to their fine presentation cases and storage was incidental, as the transient symbolic function had been performed.

Rudolf Linke had workshops in Vienna between 1885 and 1903, producing items in a diverse range of period styles – from Renaissance, through Rococo to the ‘Modern Style’ – using the traditional repertoire of Viennese materials, including painted enamel and rock crystal. The skill of the workshop in its handling of enamel may be observed on the shaft of this ewer that has been painted to simulate heliotrope.

Haydn Williams, Enamels of the World: 1700-2000 The Khalili Collections, London 2009, cat. 6, p. 45.