The V&A says that it has acquired one of the most important examples of modern lighting ever designed in the UK, a joint creation of artist Salvador Dalí and his most important British patron, Edward James.
Each lamp is made from ten oversized brass champagne coupes, one stacked on top of the other, standing on a base in the form of a Victorian papier-mȃchè tray decorated with gold ivy tendrils, berries and leaves.
Following the sale of the lampstands by the Edward James Foundation in 2017 for £425,000, a temporary export stop was placed on the lamps after the buyer applied for a licence to remove them from the UK. Since then, the V&A has been raising funds to buy the lamps itself before the export ban expired.
These lamps are one of two pairs designed specially for Monkton House, probably the most important Surrealist interior ever attempted in Britain and a project described by the late Gavin Stamp as ‘one of the most eccentric, revealing, enchanting and…subtly representative architectural creations of its time’.
The two pairs of lamps remained at Monkton until the sale of the house after James’s death in 1984, and remained in store at West Dean until one pair was sold at Christie’s in December 2016.
The Champagne Standard Lamps will join the V&A’s recently acquired Mae West Lips sofa, also designed by Dalí and James for Monkton House. The lights were placed next to the sofa in the Monkton dining room and are now on display together in the V&A’s Twentieth-Century Gallery.