Grotesque portrait with hunting scene
This remarkable pipe bowl with a grotesque face is made from deer antlers. This tough material is not easy to work with, but it also sets its limitations. The bark-like exterior requires great inventiveness from the carver to suitably incorporate it into the decoration. Not surprising that people cut that barky surface away and started with the bare antlers. In the nineteenth century it became customary to include the grainy structure in the decoration. With this pipe, the maker succeeded exceptionally well, although the result is somewhat bizarre to us. On the front of the pipe bowl the face of a human being emerges, the coronet of the antlers is used to form the nose and mustache. On the other side, facing the smoker, we see a hunting scene with on one side a wild boar attacked by a hunting dog, the other side two deer, again with a hunting dog. This creates a considerable difference between the visible side and the side that the smoker faces, the bizarre versus the depiction of the exciting moments of the hunt. This contrast perhaps fits with the pipe smoker, being somewhat introvert, who keeps the world at bay with such a bizarre mask and wants to stay in the atmosphere of hunting with a view of the hunting scene for himself.
Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 18.764Permalink