Pipes with a face
8 March 2015
This photo album assembles a series of twelve pipes acquired last year showing human portraits. These twelve portrait pipes are illustrative for the multitude of expressions in pipe design in the nineteenth century. They differ from general types of people such as the clay pipe of an American Indian and the man's head carved out of a tropical coquilla nut, pure fantasy. Although yet unidentified, the elegant woman carved in meerschaum must be made after a life model. Even more interesting are the recognizable persons, historic or contemporary. This year we were able to buy the Columbus pipe, so appropriate since he brought the first tobacco to Europe. The fine portrait of King William II of Orange was our Dutch king, while Prime-Minister Bismarck ruled Germany many years later. Cultural celebrities as Leonardo da Vinci, Goethe and the sculptor Thorvaldsen were painted in extremely fine miniatures on porcelain pipes. But even in non-European cultures the human face is used in pipe design. A fine example is the wooden portrait pipe of the Mangbetu in Congo, so strikingly imaging a contemporary person.