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An ember bowl of Damian de Castro - Cordoba (Spain)

by Giorgio Busetto

click on images to enlarge

ivory handled Spanish antique silver Damian de Castro ember bowl this is a silver ember bowl with two ivory handles. Before friction matches were invented, smokers lit their pipes and cigars with embers from the fireplace or stove. As a glowing ember is difficult to hold in tongs, to avoid dropping on the table, shallow bowls were designed to be passed (coolly) from one person to another or placed on the table without burning it. This devices were called "pipe lighter" or "smoker's brazier" and in Spanish "chofeta" and "brasero" (braserillo).
The bowl stands on four Devil masks hoofed feet legs. It was made in Cordoba (Spain) in the second half of XVIII century by famous silversmith Damian de Castro.
Silversmith Damian de Castro (Cordoba, 1716 -1793) worked in Cordoba and is the most important representative of -rococo' cordobes- style that revivified city of Cordoba's silversmithing of second half of XVIII century. The style was imitated also by Sevillian silversmiths and Cordoba's production spread all over Spain.
Damian de Castro qualified as master of the guild of goldsmiths in Cordoba in 1736, was appointed Cathedral Goldsmith in 1761 and substitute assayer of Cordoba from february 1758 to february 1759.
His work is characterized by the use of extended and twisted shafts and the Rococo ornamentation in his work takes the form of lively scrolls in high relief.
His personal hallmark is the name CAS TRO divided in two parts and included within a square.
Between known works of Damian de Castro are:
- pyx , Cordoba, Mezquita, 1761
- monstrance, La Orotava, Tenerife, Concepcion Church, 1768
- goblet, Segovia's Cathedral, 1769/72
- goblet, patena and spoon in Santa Maria de Benafarces Church (Valladolid), 1788
- candlesticks, snuff box and cup with handle, in private collections.
His work had such a decisive influence on goldsmithing in Cordoba in the late 18th century that the adoption of Neoclassicism there was retarded.
This bowl measures 5 in. (cm. 13) plus 6 inches (cm. 15) for the handles and was bought by a U.K. dealer through internet.

ivory handled Spanish antique silver Damian de Castro ember bowl ivory double handled Spanish antique silver Damian De Castro ember bowl
underside view Spanish antique silver Damian De Castro ember bowl ivory handled Spanish antique silver ember bowl
ivory handled Spanish antique silver ember bowl Damian De Castro hallmark Cordoba silver hallmark
ivory handled Spanish antique silver ember bowl hoof foot
Most of information about Damian de Castro silversmith were kindly supplied by Josť L. Munoz