Ornamental porphyry urn

Porphyry was one of the peak materials of the Empire period, the early 19th century. Porphyry is a volcanic rock consisting of the minerals quartz, feldspar, and mica. 

The name means "purple" and it was a popular material for ornamental objects among the royalty, the nobility and the middle classes.

The Älvdalen Porphyry Works in Dalarna, Sweden, was founded in 1788 and acquired by Karl XIV Johan, the first of the Bernadottes, in 1818. It remained in the hands of the royal family until 1856. The factory closed down in 1889. Porphyry was used in the 19th century for royal gifts to other heads of state.

A number of technical changes took place in Sweden during the first half of the 19th century, and those changes laid the foundations of our industrialisation. The early 19th century saw the invention of the steam engine, originating in England and imported to Sweden for the first steam-powered mill, Eldkvarn in Stockholm, which began operating in 1806. After the middle of the 19th century came the age of the railways. These new developments made all the difference to economic life and the infrastructure in Sweden, and they also made it possible to use porphyry stone from the remote areas of northern Dalarna where the Älvdalen Porphyry Works was located.

The ornamental urn is 63 cm high and has winged sirens sitting on each side of it.  

Picture: Ornamental porphyry urn

Ornamental porphyry urn 

They are made of patinated bronze and the lid knob, also bronze but gilded, is in the shape of a pineapple, which was a pretty rare kind of fruit up here in Scandinavia during the early 19th century. And then the bronze detailing was cast in Paris, whereas the actual porphyry comes from Älvdalen.


Nationalmuseum Design
@ Kulturhuset Stadsteatern
Sergels torg, Stockholm 

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