Character in meerschaum
The portrait of this bearded man with hat resembles Paul Krüger, the South African president who achieved great international fame around 1900. So there was every reason to make a pipe showing his bust. However, that is not the case. If you look closely, you will discover that various details are incorrect. For example, the hat is too informal, Krüger wore standard a top hat, after all he was the president of the state. The face is also too young and energetic given the date of the pipe. Instead of an existing person, a character is depicted here. It is meant as the stereotypical head of a South African farmer, almost inevitably Krüger-like. Since the creation of the meerschaum portrait pipe, around 1870, races and types have been among the popular images. This creation fits in this trend, given the fine carving, which was made by a skilled workman who knew how to realize the right proportions and create an attractive bust. The fact that the pipe might have been offered to the smoker as Krüger is beyond the intention of the maker. Given the case mark with the initials P.F. the pipe seems to be intended for sale in Belgium at a time when Krüger's popularity was already over. What the future buyer saw in this portrait at that time can only be guessed. In any case, smoking has given the pipe a beautiful patina, with the light colored ring beard and lapels.
Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 24.283Permalink