painted ivory casket

A Painted Ivory Marriage Casket

A 17th century box reflecting global trade and knowledge translation.

The next Illuminating Object will be hosted at the Science Museum from 5th June, 2019. This object is the first to be displayed in collaboration between The Courtauld Gallery and the Science Museum.

This casket was researched and interpreted by Katrina Brain, an MSc Science Communication student at Imperial College London. She explored how scientific knowledge was spread in the 17th century, through investigation of the materials the object was made from as well as the countries of origin of the plants and animals painted on the box

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A Venetian Opalescent Glass Bowl

opalescent glass bowl

The materiality of opalescent glass and its resonance with bioluminescent organisms

Melisa Leñero is a designer and a Master’s student in Global Innovation Design at the joint programme at Royal College of Art and Imperial College London. During the Illuminating Objects Programme, she explored the visual nuances of an 18th-century Venetian opalescent glass bowl as revealed under certain lighting conditions, and its analogy to bioluminescent sea creatures.

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A ‘puzzle jug’ from Saintonge in Western France

The craft of making the pierced motifs of the jug’s exterior wall.

Anabel Hazeldine, a Masters student in Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins, London, examines the design and manufacturing of a double-walled piece, a ‘puzzle jug’ from Saintonge in Western France.

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decorated frame with precious stones on the side and a painted biblical scene in the middle

17th Century Frame – Decorative Stones

The geological and historical importance of the semi-precious stones used in this object. 

This richly decorated frame was probably designed in the 17th century as a portable altar for use in a private chapel. It is beautifully inlaid in pietre dure with a multitude of semi-precious stones. All the stones are the product of a geological process called mineralization, which is the infiltration and percolation of fluids into cavities in rocks. This frame was displayed during the summer of 2017. 

With an academic background in physics, Natasha Gertler breaks down the nature of her discoveries from the object, which was on display in the summer of 2017.

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A Pendant in the Form of a Book

a pendant in the form of a book

The origins and iconography of an unusual early seventeenth-century pendant.

This display considered the origins and iconography of a pendant, possibly a reliquary, and considered its appeal for the Anglo-Catholic artist and collector Thomas Gambier Parry (1816-1888). 

The pendant was researched and prepared by Devon Abts, a PhD candidate in theology at King’s College London. Her focus was on the relationship between faith and aesthetics in Victorian England. It was on display between 13 November 2015 and 15 March 2016.

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A Venetian Chalcedony and Aventurine Glass Bowl

glass bowl

The cultural and scientific history of an eighteenth-century Venetian bowl.

This display investigated the cultural and scientific history of a 18th century Venetian glass bowl and the Chalcedony and Aventurine techniques. 

The bowl was researched and prepared by Eleanor Magson, a Masters student in Science Communication at Imperial College London.  She looked at the role of chance in scientific discovery and art, the relationship between the natural world and man-made products, as well as the complex techniques critical to the creation of this object. It was on display between March 2015 and 11 November 2015.

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silver coffee pot

Queen Anne Silver Coffee Pot

Reflections on an early 18th century English coffeepot from the perspective of the cultural context of coffee consumption.

This display investigated coffeehouse culture in the cities of London and Isfahan, and the social power of the drink itself.

It was researched and prepared by Maryam Ala Amjadi, a PhD candidate in the School of English, jointly at the University of Kent in Canterbury and the Universidad do Porto, Portugal. It was on display between 26 November 2014 and 1 March 2015.

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carved wooden loom pulleyWest African Loom Pulley

A carved wooden loom pulley made by the Guro people of Côte D’Ivoire in West Africa.

This display reflected on a beautifully carved wooden loom pulley used in textile weaving, made by the Guro people of Côte D’Ivoire in West Africa in the late 19th or early 20th century.

It was researched and prepared by Niamh Collard, a PhD candidate in Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Her doctoral research is concerned with the educational and working lives of narrow-strip weavers in eastern Ghana. It was on display between 4 June and 12 November 2014.

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painted ceramic dish, with floral motivIznik Dish

Interpreting the dish through a textual analysis of floral symbolism.

Using the dish to study the floral symbolism of 16th century lyrical poetry, travel narratives and mystical meditations; an interpretation of the symbolic and cultural meanings of the floral motifs.

The dish was researched and presented by Laila El-Sayed, a PhD candidate in the School of English jointly at the University of Kent and the Freie Universität in Berlin. It was on display from the 6th November 2013 into 2014.
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elegant decorated English wine glass from 18th centuryFiligree Drinking Glasses

Exploring the scientific and craft nature of European glass.

This investigation explored the scientific and craft nature of the two glasses on display, including their chemical compositions and the technique behind the creation of their striking decoration.The first glass is a patterned Venetian-style goblet decorated with a delicate white pattern, echoed in the stem of an elegant 18th century English wineglass, the second glass on display.

They were researched by Victoria Druce, a postgraduate student studying for a degree in Science Communication at Imperial College London, who is especially interested in the science of the objects. It was on display between 24 July and 4 November 2013.

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miniature picture bible German Miniature Picture Bibles

Investigating the meaning behind the design of the Miniature Bibles. 

The pair of ornate German miniature picture Bibles on display, entitled Dess Alten Testaments Mittler: Dess Neuen Testaments Mittler, were produced by two sisters from Augsburg in the late 17th century, most likely for use in private devotion.

They were researched, presented and interpreted by Josephine Neil, a PhD candidate in Theology and the Arts, at King’s College London. They were on display between 1 May and 22 July 2013 

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decorated ceramic plateSpanish Lustre Dish

Discovering the heritage built into in the craftwork of Spanish lustreware.

This splendid luxury object was displayed on its own for the first time since it was acquired by The Courtauld Gallery, as part of the Gambier-Parry bequest in 1966. It considers the heritage of Spanish lustreware and reflects on the Islamic and Christian history of the Iberian Peninsula.

The dish was researched, presented and interpreted by Tanja Tolar, a PhD candidate in the History of Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, University of London). It was on display between 6 February and 29 April 2013. 

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wooden carved crossMount Athos Cross

The iconography of the doubled-sided cross.

This beautifully carved cross was made in one of the many monasteries around Mount Athos in the 17th or 18th century. It carries minutely carved scenes of the Old and New Testament and was used for the benediction of the congregation during the liturgy of the Orthodox Church. 

The research was partaken by Dr Eleni Dimitriadou, who completed her PhD in Byzantine art at The Courtauld Institute of Art. It was on display between 30 October 2012 and 3 February 2013.

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The Courtauld Metal BagIslamic metal bag

Reserach on the shape and functions of this unique Islamic metalwork.

Part of the exhibition “Court and Craft” held at The Courtauld Gallery from 20 February – 18 May 2014, which.explored the origin and cultural context of this extraordinary object, alongside displays of illustrated manuscripts, ceramics and other luxury crafts.

The Courtauld Metal Bag was made in Mosul (present day northern Iraq) for a noble lady of the Mongol court around 1300 -1330.
The shape of this exceptional object is unique in metalwork and has had various functions ascribed to it.