New acquisitions: Objects of Swedish porphyry

By on December 19, 2016

National Museum’s collections have been expanded with several items of porphyry. During the late 1700s and most of the 1800s belonged porphyry to the most prestigious Swedish export goods. From the US market, the museum has been able to buy two magnificent vases of the so-called Medicityp with royal provenance. In addition, a table clocks of granitell well as an interesting collection of samples of different kinds of Swedish porphyry.

Deposits of porphyry were already made in the 1730s, but it would take more than half a century before a rupture started. Driven was Count Niels Adam Bielke, President the Board of Mines. The project had largely social overtones. They wanted from the authorities side create a sustainable industry that could remedy the poverty in Älvdalen. Porphyry was founded in 1788, but already a year earlier handed over the first result in the form of an urn to Gustav III.

Porphyry, which comes from the Greek word Porphyros (purple snail), has since Pharaonic time been a coveted luxury fabric. The deposits were few and far dominated the Egyptian Porfyren. During the Renaissance onwards it became common to transform the ancient building fragments of porphyry ornaments. This volcanic rock was and is especially demanding to process because of its hardness. High gloss was achieved by consuming grinding and polishing. Carl Fredrik Fredenheim, that on Gustav III’s mission traveled to Italy, proposed to try to market the Swedish porphyry there. Sales successes did, however, delayed and it would take several decades before production in Älvdalen began in earnest.

When the National Museum was inaugurated in 1866 donated several large porphyry pieces to the Museum of the dowager queen Josefina. However missing long representative objects in the smaller format. Through its provenance and unique character is the recent acquisitions of porphyry important additions to the museum’s collection. Nationalmuseum has no own funds to purchase handicrafts and art collections, but the collections enriched through gifts as well as private foundations and funds. The acquisitions were made possible by funding from Ulla & Gunnar Trygg’s donation funds and Axel Hirsch Foundation.

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