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The Alhambra Vase
late 14th-early 15th century

Nasrid period

Earthenware painted over glaze
H: 77.2 W: 68.2 cm
Spain

Gift of Charles Lang Freer F1903.206a-b

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Mariano Fortuny, the famed textile and costume designer, bought the Freer Vase from a tavern in Granada. The bronze stand, inspired by the Fountain of the Lions at the Alhambra, was designed by Fortuny. The vase is missing its collar, neck, winglike handles, and lustered surface, but is a close cousin to other surviving Alhambra vases, including the vase known as the Alhambra Vase, now in the Museo de la Alhambra in Granada. Its present state only hints at its former appearance, as it must have been among the most magnificent of all of the late Alhambra vases. Its pleasing proportions are accentuated by the placement of an inscription band at its widest point; the contents of the inscription are unique among these vases. This inscription is autonomous, in that, it makes the vase speak in the first person. Like the inscription on the pyxis and other inscriptions that survive in stucco at the Alhambra palace, this one asks the viewer to contemplate the beauty of the object and its setting.

Inscriptions: Deer: Good health; Roundels: Good health. Central band: O thou onlooker who art adorned with the splendor of the dwelling / Look at my shape today and contemplate: thou wilt see my excellence / For I appear to be made of silver and my clothing from blossoms / My happiness lies in the hands of he who is my owner, underneath the canopy.