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Boat-shaped agate cup with two masks and cover
Miseroni, Ottavio; Vermeyen, Jan
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Miseroni, Ottavio
1567
Vermeyen, Jan
Bruselas, 1559 - Praga, 1606

Boat-shaped agate cup with two masks and cover

Ca. 1590. Agate, Enamel, Gold

Vessel made up of five pieces of agate, and six mounts and an appliqué of enamelled gold. The boat-shaped bowl has an oval mouth and, like the lid, a diminished arch profile. On it, a ring mount supports a small balustroid vase that may have had an ornamental metal finial. The lid is smooth-rimmed while the bowl ends in a broad, flat lip ornamented with delicate enamel motifs, such as dolphins, pavilions and fruits, as well as two small masks with boy’s faces in translucent green, reddish and tan and opaque blue enamel. Below, at each end of the bowl, were two female masks between scrolls. Only one of these remains, fashioned with supreme skill and enriched with enamelled details. Two simple mounts join the pyriform stem to the body and to a short-necked foot with an enamelled mount simulating cabochons of ruby and other adornments.

One of the female masks and part of the upper finial were already missing in 1746. The balustroid vase finial appears on some vessels associated with the Miseroni workshop. It is also found on piece O101 at the Prado, and on another lapis lazuli vessel at the Louvre, MR 265, among other examples. The two pieces forming the bowl may be recut Byzantine hardstone, while the mount, or at least the central part, appears to be the work of Jan Vermeyen (Brussels, before 1559-Prague, 1606) or a goldsmith very close to him. It would have been made in Prague during the reign of Rudolf II, possibly in the 1590s or around 1600. Vermeyen’s production is characterised by the presence of pavilions, fruits and other stylised elements, tooled into the smooth surface of the gold and animated by translucent enamels in varied chromatic contrasts. The chalcedony tazza, inv. 1665, at the Kunstkammer of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, also the work of this artist, has a similar design on the adornment of the lip. The same aesthetic is also found in two vessels at the Museo Degli Argenti in Florence: a cup (Inventario Gemme 1921, no. 471) with a similar decorative structure, and another of jasper (Inventario Gemme 1921, no. 411) with a mount from the same workshop. Both date from the second half of the 16th century. In Vienna, another mount by Jan Vermeyen with a boy or young Bacchus of gold on a heliotrope vessel (Kunstkammer, inv. 1871) displays a narrow band of incrusted white enamel, and a second broader band of smooth gold with incrusted enamel in various colours with a design of pavilions, foliage, birds and fruits, reminiscent of both the current vessel, O16, and the simplified design of the foot of O17, whose mounting is attributed by Arbeteta to the circle of this artist.

The state of the work in the 19th century can be seen through the photography of Juan Laurent y Minier, "Vase ovale agate, montures d’or et émaux, XVIe siècle, règne de Charles IX", c. 1879, Museo del Prado, HF0835/11 (L. Arbeteta, in press).

Technical data

Inventory number
O000016
Author
Miseroni, Ottavio; Vermeyen, Jan
Title
Boat-shaped agate cup with two masks and cover
Date
Ca. 1590; 1590 - 1600
Technique
Chased; Enamelled; Repoussé; Carved
Medium
Agate; Enamel; Gold
Dimension
Height: 9.2 cm.; Width: 10.4 cm.; Base/bottom: 5.2 cm.; Weight: 125 g.; Ancho base: 4.5 cm.; Bottom of the base: 3.5 cm.
Series
Tesoro del Delfín
Provenance
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Angulo Íñiguez, Diego, Catálogo de las Alhajas del Delfín, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1989 (ed.rev), pp. 41.

Arbeteta Mira, Letizia, El tesoro del Delfín: alhajas de Felipe V recibidas por herencia de su padre Luis, Gran Delfín de Francia, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2001, pp. 302-303.

Arbeteta, L. Azcue, L., El Tesoro del Delfín, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2018, 2018.

Other inventories +

Inv. Gabinete Historia Natural, 1776. Núm. 55.
Vaso pequeño en forma de barco

There are no temporary exhibitions related to this work

Location +

Room 079B (On Display)

Update date: 02-05-2019 | Registry created on 26-11-2015

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