Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016

4.21.2009

Sea Sculpture

I'm still mesmerized by the "sea sculpture" Amelia Handegan discovered at the Charleston International Antiques Show. Salvaged from a shipwreck, explains Susan Sully, Handegan's intriguing object is comprised of 16th-century Thai ceramic bowls that became fused to natural coral after sitting at the bottom of the ocean for two centuries.

If I ever find myself in a position to acquire something like this at auction, I'll jump at the chance. (That's a huge if.) But I don't plan to hot glue any Asian bowls to a piece of coral. The appeal of sea sculptures is the story behind them. The improbability of their survival. Also, the accidental nature of the fusion makes them more beautiful, at least to me. Having said that, I can see Tony Duquette doing this on purpose.

It is believed that fire caused the 18th-century Ca Mau shipwreck, and that heat from the blaze fused numerous tea bowls and vases together. The piece above was auctioned by Sotheby's in 2007; today the V & A owns it. Click here to learn more about shipwreck ceramics.

Image two above © The Southern Cosmopolitan: Sophisticated Southern Style by Susan Sully, Rizzoli New York, 2009.

16 comments:

Mrs. Blandings said...

Courtney - that is simply amazing. If one comes up I think it calls for cashing in the 401K (what is left of it.)

Style Court said...

Patricia -- tempting thought. Doubt there is enough left. But fun fantasy :)

Linda/"Mom" said...

* OMG, I just checked out the Sotheby's site~~~ 76,000 pieces survived?!? SOOOOOOOO fascinating!!! Gotta go read MORE about all of this! ("WOW" for the third, or fourth, time!!!)... MANY THANKS, Linda in AZ *

Style Court said...

Hi Linda -- glad you enjoyed the link! It is amazing.

Cote de Texas said...

I think that Amelia's piece is one of the prettiest things I've ever seen - it's just amazing.

Style Court said...

Hi Joni -- Thought you would appreciate this too. She has such great taste!

Janet said...

These are so fascinating ~ the perfect curio!

GrannySmithGreen said...

Just amazing. I had no idea that would happen. Well, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, I suppose! Thanks for always having such insightful posts!

The Antiques Diva™ said...

Courtney,
I attended a lecture at Sotheby's Amsterdam on the seas culptures and it was perhaps the most amazing thing I've seen/heard in the last decade! I sat in open mouth awe. Mrs Blandings commented above "Cash in the 401K!" and I can't help but agree with her!! I'd give my eye tooth for a piece of collection!
Toma

Zelda said...

this is so romantic , some how !!!! the second and last ones are stunning !!

Renae said...

Courtney...so beautiful. I learned something new today. Thanks....
Blessings...

The Peak of Chic said...

I'm with Joni! That piece is absolutely stunning!!! I've never seen anything like it.

Anonymous said...

I love this post! It inspired me to paint!
Thank You!
Amanda Talley

Style Court said...

Toma -- I envy you! I would have loved to be there for the lecture. Thanks for sharing.

Style Court said...

Amanda -- yay! That makes me feel great.

Style Court said...

GSG, Renae and everyone -- I love it when you say a post is inspirational. Thanks so much for taking time to comment!