Casting bottle

1540-1550 (made)


Height: 12 cm, Width: 6.7 cm maximum, Depth: 4.1 cm

451:1, 2-1865 MET

Object Type This casting bottle would have been used to hold a flower essence, typically rosewater, and to sprinkle it over the hands and body. Such bottles are occasionally known as 'sprinklers'. History & Use Casting bottles were luxury accessories that were used by members of the European court and aristocracy from the 15th century to the mid-17th, and they are known to have been given as New Year gifts at the court of Henry VIII. They became redundant after the introduction of musk and resin-based perfumes and the development of larger-scale perfume bottles forming part of a dressing-table set. Design Casting bottles are generally found in the form of the traditional pilgrim flask, with a flattened body, a long neck and chains attached to the shoulders. At the forefront of European fashion, they are usually decorated in the very latest styles; this English example has the characteristic strapwork ornament derived from Flemish designs of the 1540s. The stopper and chains are later replacements.

Made in England by an unidentified maker, using the mark of a cusped 'I'; the strapwork ornament may derive from a design by Balthazar Sylvius (born in Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, 1518, died in Antwerp, Belgium, 1580)

Location: In Storage

View this object on the V&A website