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Henry Hugh Armstead RA, Centrepiece

Centrepiece, 1872

Henry Hugh Armstead RA (1828 - 1905)

RA Collection: Art

A silver centrepiece in the form of a rose-water bowl with a central pedestal supporting a figure of Prometheus (or Jove) and an eagle. Around the bowl are six medallion heads of Royal Academy Presidents: Reynolds, West, Lawrence, Shee, Eastlake and Grant, and a ribbon inscribed Chambers, Wilson, Gainsborough, Gibson, Leslie, Charles Barry, Etty, Chantry, Wilkie, Constable, Turner and Flaxman.

In Greek myth the Titan Prometheus defied Zeus by teaching mortals how to make fire. As a punishment he was chained to a rock where an eagle would peck out his liver each day. The liver grew back every night and the process was constantly repeated. The connection between Prometheus and British artists is not immediately obvious but it is probably connected with the idea that the Titan's gift of fire was the spark of human creativity.

This spectacular centrepiece was commissioned to celebrate the centenary of the Royal Academy and paid for by Royal Academicians.

Object details

Title
Centrepiece
Artist/designer
Silversmith
Date
1872
Object type
Silver
Medium
Silver
Dimensions

480 mm x 305 mm x 305 mm

Collection
Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
03/5421
Acquisition
Commissioned from

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