An ember bowl of Damian de Castro - Cordoba
by Giorgio Busetto
click on images to enlarge
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
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
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),
- 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.