Portrait of a black woman
Popular as a subject for meerschaum pipes are portraits of exotics with their specific racial characteristics and special hairstyle or clothing. This cigar holder is a striking example of this vogue. What we see is a relatively small, extremely refined carved portrait pipe, showing the bust of a negro woman with the frizzy hair in strands. The bust is kept simple with a narrow pleat in the robe on one side. A slim trumpet-shaped cigar holder has been added for use, so that the fragile carving can never come into contact with the burning cigar butt. An extra attractive feature of this so detailed pipe is the treatment in so-called “double cire”: parts of the representation are finished with an impenetrable wax, so that they do not colour. The original white meerschaum colourcontrasts with the browning patina of the pipe, giving the eyes and clothing fold extra attention and thus livening up the depiction. The edge of the accompanying fitted case bears the mark of the well-known pipe sellers J.B. Vinche from Brussels. They were both manufacturers and importers, so it remains unclear whether the pipe is carved in Belgium or, for example, comes from Austria. The date of this small gem lies before the First World War.
Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 22.703Permalink