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Casket covered with cameos
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Casket covered with cameos

1630 - 1650. Agate, Amethyst, Cowry, Enamel, Lapis lazuli, Gold, Silver gilt, Sardonyx, Silk, Velvet Room 079B

Casket with a rectangular body and hipped flat-topped lid. Rising from a silver gilt base is a framework of gold, according to the 1689 Versailles inventory, with white enamelling. The entire surface is covered with velvet, though the pile is now very worn, on which there are 113 appliqués of cameos and smooth bevelled stones or cabochons, framed by borders of festoons and thorns enamelled in white with touches of black and occasional green or red. The hinges of the lid are adorned with pointed leaf motifs enamelled in white. A similar motif appears on the four small gilt brass balls that support the casket. The interior is lined with pale pink silk.

The leaves visible on the hinges of the casket follow models derived from the 1626 or 1647 edition of the designs of Baltasar Lemercier, where there are patterns made up of broad leaves alongside pointed ones and rows of beads. As Arbeteta pointed out, they also resemble the engravings of Gédéon L’Egaré’s Liure de Feuilles D’Orfeurerie, published in Paris between 1635 and 1645. These leaves, enamelled in white with the odd touch of black, also appear on the mounts of several vessels in the Prado, O9 being possibly the example closest to the current piece. These specific characteristics of the hinges situate the coffer in the sphere of influence of the Paris school.

The most outstanding of the cameos are the following: On the front (trapezoidal and rectangular planes of the front of the casket), besides the children’s heads in amethyst, are the bust of a Roman emperor, identified in 1776 as Hadrian, with a laurel wreath and a Gorgon on the cloak across his breast; another of Alexander the Great; and a large portrait of Francis I in court dress. The bust of a woman with a ribbon in her hair could be Roman. On the rear is an agate cameo that represents the phoenix re-emerging from its ashes in the sunlight, a possible emblem or device. It resembles another with a different interpretation in the National Library in Paris. On the left-hand side, besides the habitual mythological scenes found all over the casket, is a portrait of St Charles Borromeo, archbishop of Milan, with his characteristic profile. On the right-hand side are two large cameos, one with the head of a woman whose hair falls in long curled tresses, and the other regarded by Gennaioli as ancient and extremely rare, and identified by that scholar as Isis suckling Horus. The centre of the top of the lid is occupied by another large agate cameo, considered by Angulo to be the finest in the entire Dauphin’s Treasure. It shows a woman looking to the right, with minutely rendered hair and a laurel wreath.

The state of the work in the 19th century can be seen through the photography of Juan Laurent y Minier, "Vase agate sardoine, montures d’or avec émaux et pierreries, XVIe siècle, règne de Henri II", c. 1879, Museo del Prado, HF0835/5 (L. Arbeteta, in press).

Technical data

Related artworks

Case for casket covered with cameos
Leather, Wood, Metal, Cloth, 1650 - 1711
Arqueta recubierta de camafeos
Albumen on photographic paper, Ca. 1863
Inventory number
O000031
Author
Anonymous
Title
Casket covered with cameos
Date
1630 - 1650
Technique
Chased; Enamelled; Carved; Mounted / set
Medium
Agate; Amethyst; Cowry; Enamel; Lapis lazuli; Gold; Silver gilt; Sardonyx; Silk; Velvet
Dimension
Height: 12.2 cm.; Width: 16.5 cm.; Base/bottom: 13 cm.; Weight: 777 g.
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. 59-63.

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. 230-232.

Museo Nacional del Prado, El Museo del Prado: la colección de escultura, artes decorativas y dibujos, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2009.

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

Other inventories +

Inv. Gabinete Historia Natural, 1776. Núm. 10.
Un cofrecito de madrera

Exhibitions +

La Celeste Galeria dei Gonzaga. Il Museo dei duchi di Mantova tra Mantegna, Rubens e Guido Reni
Mantua
07.09.2002 - 08.12.2002

Intercambio por las Colecciones Reales Españolas de mosaicos y piedras duras
Madrid
09.07.2001 - 16.09.2001

Location +

Room 079B (On Display)

Update date: 05-06-2019 | Registry created on 03-12-2015

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