Brandy Keg Lamp
This 19th-century brandy keg lamp is crafted from porcelain and lined with a red and gold glaze. Protruding from the keg’s wooden platform is a spout made entirely out of bronze. The hand-painted barrel appears to be of the London-based “Lumley & Co.” brand, but the original context for this lamp is unknown – perhaps it was used for advertising in a pub, or it belonged to an eclectic home decorator with a special appreciation for brandy. This lamp is made of sturdy, high-quality materials fit for an elegant home, but the design mimics the look of a consumable item. Ceramic barrels may have been displayed in sets to encapsulate a range of alcoholic beverage choices – like whisky, rum, or gin – available for sale in a shop or pub. Indeed, Lumley and Co. was not a manufacturer of decorative ceramics, but a supplier of goods for the bottling industry. Examples of goods produced by L. Lumley & Co. include packing cases, ice moulds, and yew rules (for measuring cask volume). This barrel’s delightful transformation into a lamp is somewhat of a mystery: matching Lumley & Co. ceramic barrels for other alcoholic beverages survive on the antique market, but the added lamp feature is absent.
At this time in London, several of the city’s major museums were founded or constructed during the 19th century. The famous modern cultural institutions on this list include the British Museum (built 1823–1852), the National Gallery (built 1832–1852), the National Portrait Gallery (founded 1856), and the Tate Britain (opened in 1897 as the National Gallery of British Art). The South Kensington Museum, today known as the Victoria & Albert Museum, opened to the public in 1856. Today, many of these museums rank among the highest echelon of Western museums, consistently drawing visitors to the city with their impressive and extensive collections.