Spanish gold damascened forged iron urn

Attributed to Zuloaga, Placido (Spanish, 1834-1910)


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This magnificent urn is of baluster form, the slender tapering neck above flaring into a wide rim, while the ovoid body thins to a narrow stem below—the stem resting atop a circular stepped foot. The shoulder of the vase is mounted with twin scrolled handles, each handle springing from a winged griffon below and terminating in a garland above, the two draped garlands attaching to the neck of the vase.

While the shape of the urn is striking, its surface ornamentation is arguably its most impressive feature. The urn, crafted from forged iron that has been damascened—or inlaid—with gold, is profusely decorated with gold inlays. The decorative motifs take the forms of arabesques, grotesques, and palmettes, all interspersed and intermingling in a satisfying, technically accomplished composition. Moreover, the body of the urn is centred to each side with an oval cartouche containing a depiction of Cupid.

This vase, produced during the latter years of the 19th Century, is based on much earlier originals. These originals are often known as ‘Alhambra vases’, so-called because they were much favoured by the last Muslim dynasty to rule in Spain. The Nasrids, who reigned in Granada between 1238 and 1492—when the Reconquista expelled the last of the Spanish Muslims—furnished their primary palace, the Alhambra, with many beautiful items. Gold damascened forged iron vases were particularly popular among the ruling dynasty, leading to their proliferation. The present piece is an exceptional example inspired by the Nasrid originals.


Artist / Maker
Attributed to Zuloaga, Placido (Spanish, 1834-1910)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
Late 19th Century
Late 19th Century
Arabesque, Classical, Moorish
Gold, Iron
Black, Gold, Metallic


37 cm / 14.6 inches
17 cm / 6.7 inches
15 cm / 5.9 inches


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