St Simeon Stylites

  • Artist / Maker

    Enamel by Edith Dawson (1862-1928)

    Frame by Nelson Dawson (1859-1941)

  • Detail

    Enamel on copper, with mother-of-pearl-mounted silver frame, and ebony surround

    31 x 26.7 cm (overall)

    English (London), 1903 (the enamel) and 1922 (the frame)

  • Signed and dated

    ‘D 1903’ in the enamel (bottom centre), and London hallmark for Nelson Dawson, 1922/23

  • Provenance

    Nelson and Edith Dawson; Catalogue of a Representative Selection of Works of Art by Nelson Dawson, Sotheby’s, 16 March 1923, lot 111 (illustrated); […]; a Family Trust, sold Christie’s (London), 3 November 2015, lot 82

  • Collection

    Gunnersbury Park Museum

  • Literature

    H. Blairman & Sons Ltd, Furniture and Works of Art (2016), no. 14

  • Notes

    The back of the frame bears a hand written label reading: ‘Translucent Enamel in setting of beaten silver, on Ebony. / “S. Simeon Stylites.” / By Nelson & Edith Dawson Staillie [?] House, The Mall – Chiswick London W.4 / price £75 / No 2.’ In the Sotheby’s catalogue this work is described as: ‘An Extremely Fine Plaque of “S. Simeon Stylites” in translucent enamel of the greatest beauty … in setting of repoussé silver with mother-o’-pearl panels, on a background of ebony’.

    Nelson Dawson, who trained as an architect, learned the art of enamelling from Alexander Fisher (1864-1936), a skill he then passed on to his wife Edith, whom he married in 1893.

    St Simeon Stylites, (circa 290-459) was a shepherd, who entered a monastic community, but later became the first so-called ‘pillar hermit’. He began his pillar life northwest of Aleppo, apparently two metres from the ground, but this was later extended to fifteen metres. He remained on top of the column until his death, and eventually the pillar became a pilgrimage site.