Model Chalice

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Designed by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin
English, 1812–1852
Manufactured by John Hardman & Company
Birmingham, England, 1838-2008

Model Chalice, c. 1849

Gilt base metal, enamels, and semiprecious stones
H. 26 cm (10 1/4 in.)
Bessie Bennett Endowment, 1981.640

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin was one of the most important early-19th-century designers of Gothic Revival architecture, furniture, and interior decoration. He trained under his French-born father, the architect Augusts Charles Pugin, an authority on medieval buildings. A devout convert to Roman Catholicism in a predominantly Anglican country, the younger Pugin proselytized through his architectural work and in a series of publications issued between 1835 and 1843. For Pugin, the Gothic style expressed the faith and conviction of the Middle Ages and was a necessary counter to the increasing secularism and industrialization of his own time. In addition to chapels and churches, he also designed the liturgical equipment, altars, hangings, and vestments within them. Pugin also adapted the Gothic Revival style for his secular commissions, which included the Houses of Parliament in London.

This chalice was designed by Pugin and produced by the workshop of Hardiman & Company, a firm retained by the architect to make metal implements and fittings for his commissions. The word MODEL is inscribed on its underside, which suggests that the vessel served as a sample to be shown to potential clients. Final, commissioned versions of the chalice would be handcrafted by goldsmiths in precious metals and gemstones, rather than die-struck in Sheffield plate, the silver-plated copper that was commonly used for ordinary metal work.

— About This Object, European Decorative Arts LaunchPad app