Friday, April 17, 2009

Thematic Photographic - Floral

This week at Thematic Photographic, Carmi asks us to explore the theme FLORAL. So share some flowers with us - real ones, and maybe some that are less literal, expanding our horizons.

We were cleaning out my mother's house to put it on sale, and I was emptying the cabinets in her bathroom. There were a lot of cabinets, and they were all full of stuff. I found some packages wrapped in brown paper. They clanked a little, so I was gentle when I unwrapped them.

What I found turned out to be this extraordinary construction - four ruffled trumpet-shaped glass vessels, and a strange flat dish with an odd pedestal in the center. The glass horns fit into it, and looked like uplifted flowers.

Fresh out of the dishwasher, all cleaned up. An odd, awkward yet magnificent piece. What the heck was it?

Well, I learned that it is something called an epergne - A late Victorian vessel for displaying elaborate floral arrangements. They would also be used to display fruits and sometimes sweetmeats for festive occasions. Some epergnes have little trays and baskets to hold tidbits. This one appears to be more geared for flower arrangements.

The tradition began in England and France during the eighteenth century, when they were often made of silver. During the Victorian era, the tradition was revived, and epergnes were often made of art glass. The Fenton Art Glass Company from West Virginia, made elaborate epergnes from milk glass, carnival glass, opalescent glass, and hobnail glass. The online photos at eBay of Fenton epergnes look an awful lot like this one, so I wonder if perhaps it's a Fenton piece.

I have to admit, when I got it assembled, it was so ridiculous-looking it made me want to laugh.

Where did it come from? It was certainly not anything I remembered from childhood. My parents' home had became the repository of things - both junk and treasure - from the estates of my father's mother and his four aunts. As I looked at this bizarre thing, I knew it must have come from one of them.

Only two of my great aunts led lives that would include such elaborate entertainment. One married a wealthy real estate developer. The other was the second wife of a former Texas Senator and Judge. It must have belonged to one of them. It's given me something else to be curious about my oddball family, something else to research.

The piece itself will be included in a sale at my mother's house. Intriguing though it is, I do NOT want it in my house.


mo.stoneskin said...

I really want to throw something into those horns, the urge is almost consuming me.

Pamela said...

oh oh oh ... put some flowers in it and see if you change your mind!!

or.. maybe it's a family floraloom.

MaR said...

It's a very unique piece and beautiful in its own way!

Anonymous said...

You got the best part - a unique floral post!

Woman in a Window said...

I don't know, in the right place it's kinda cool. My sister would love it. Me, I'm with you.

cactus petunia said...

That's amazing...what would be even more amazing is a tiny little blown-glass bug in the trumpet...I don't think I'd want it in my house, either!