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This hammam bowl comprises a spherical base on a low, flat foot, worked with friezes and borders of scrolling leaf and petal motifs. An engraved rounded handle surmounted by a loop is attached by means of two leaf-like flanges. The interior is gilded, thereby protecting the silver from the water the vessel is designed to hold. The base is repoussed and chased with a lotus flower motif. The base and handle have been stamped with what appears to be French colonial assay marks.
Bowls such as these were used in nineteenth century Algeria in the hammam, or public steam bath facilities found in the Maghreb and the Ottoman empire.
Algerian silver objects of vertu are uncommon on international markets. Relatively few items have been published. But see Lots 162 and 163 in Etude Tajan’s 1995 catalogue for two comparable Algerian hammam bowls, and also Garnier (2003, p. 57) for an example in the collection of the Musee Conde a Chantilly.
Etude Tajan, ‘Art Islamiqie: Tableaux Orientalistes’, June 5, 1995.
Garnier, N.,et al, ABD El-Kader et l’Algerie au XIXe Siecle dans les Collections du Musee Conde a Chantilly, Somogy Editions d’Art, 2003.