M10981 | Censer

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Pierre Huguet dit Latour
1807, 19th century
Metal: silver, brass, copper, nonferrous metal; Shaped, assembled
94.5 x 10.8 cm
Purchase from Mr. H. Baron
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Censer (1)
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The tradition of burning incense during ceremonies comes down from antiquity; incense was used by the Greeks, Jews and Romans during their religious ceremonies. The Catholic Church prohibited its use for three centuries before reintroducing it into the liturgy. This censer was made in Lacadie by Pierre Huguet, dit Latour (1749-1817). It is particularly interesting for its ornamentation, so different than that usually found on objects of this type. In fact, this is the only known example of this type of censer.

Keys to History

A thurible, or censer, is a metal vessel for the ceremonial burning of incense. Usually the thurible is hung on chains so that it can be swung during incensation in a religious service.

Incense burnt on live coals in a censer was employed during religious ceremonies by the ancient Greeks, Jews and Romans. Its use was forbidden by the Catholic Church for three centuries, and when it was introduced into the liturgy it was subject to extremely rigorous rules. Despite this, incense has been used in numerous Roman Catholic rites from the 19th century.

The thurible seen here is significant because of its unusual ornamentation. Long elegant gadroons, engraved into the surface and rising from the foot across the urn-shaped bowl, lend the piece a remarkable sobriety and sophistication.

  • What

    This sterling silver censer is stamped underneath "MONTREAL P.H." This was the mark of the silversmith Pierre Huguet, known as Latour Jr. (1771-1828).

  • Where

    This thurible was made in Montreal and used in the parish church at Lacadie, Quebec.

  • When

    The Lacadie Parish account books indicate that this censer was ordered in 1807.

  • Who

    Pierre Huguet Jr. began working in his father's silversmithing shop in 1788, at the age of 17. In 1817, with the death of his father, he inherited all of the tools and furnishings in the shop.