The carved rock crystal ewer from late 10th- to 11th-century Fatimid Egypt (969–1171), is the first work of art from the rarely shown Keir Collection to arrive at the DMA, is considered one of the wonders of Islamic art. Rock crystal is a pure form of the silica mineral quartz, prized for its transparency and flawless structure. Used as a gemstone and in ornamental carvings, large crystals are rare. Only seven rock crystal ewers of this caliber from the entire medieval Islamic world are known, and this ewer is the only one of its type in the United States. Its style reflects that of a ewer inscribed with the name of the Fatimid Caliph al-Aziz (r. 975–996) in the treasury of the Basilica of San Marco in Venice.
The Keir Collection was assembled over the course of five decades by the noted art collector Edmund de Unger (1918–2011). Named after the 18th-century British mansion where it was once housed, the Keir Collection includes textiles, carpets, ceramics, rock crystal, metalwork, and works on paper. Its geographic range extends from the western Mediterranean to South Asia. The DMA announed in February 2013 the 15-year renewable loan of one of the largest private holdings of Islamic art.
Focus installation; Admission is FREE
This installation was made possible with the generous support of The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF).
Rock crystal ewer, Egypt, late 10th–11th century, Fatimid, mounts by Jean-Valentin Morel, Sèvres (France), 1854, rock crystal with enameled gold mounts, The Keir Collection of Islamic Art on loan to the Dallas Museum of Art; Rock crystal ewer (detail), Egypt, late 10th–11th century, Fatimid, mounts by Jean-Valentin Morel, Sèvres (France), 1854, rock crystal with enameled gold mounts, The Keir Collection of Islamic Art on loan to the Dallas Museum of Art