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Cup with grape harvesting scenes
Workshop of the Sarachi; Fontana, Annibale -Designer- (?)
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Workshop of the Sarachi
Fontana, Annibale -Designer-(?)

Cup with grape harvesting scenes

1570 - 1600. Rock crystal / Hyaline quartz, Enamel, Gold

A vessel with an elongated fusiform body and a dome-shaped lid ending in a small turned stem supporting a flattened ball. The foot has a short stem and a turned knop. It has two gold ring mounts, the lower one enamelled with black whorls and green scrolls with ovals of translucent red enamel in imitation of rubies, similar to those on vessel O83 in the Dauphin’s Treasure. The one on the foot, however, is missing, having been stolen in 1918. Delimited by an upper band of garlands is a figurative scene where various characters, among them a satyr, harvest bunches of grapes among groves and vines and tread them in a press. On the base, among marine waves, are fantastic animals with wings or a monstrous appearance.

This might appear at first sight to be a genre scene, suitable for a vessel containing wine, but the presence of the satyr or faun refers us to the classical Dionysian world, a frequent subject in the visual arts of the Renaissance. In iconography, Dionysus, the antithesis of Apollo, represents man’s return to nature. While the sun god represents regulated art, first Greek and later western, Dionysus symbolises the mysterious and unforeseeable. He arrives from Asia, and inhabits dense forests where the rays of the sun do not penetrate. He is represented as a deformed creature, a far cry from the beauty of Apollo. As a subject, he was also very suitable for the members of the Milanese Accademia della Val di Blenio, who adopted Bacchus as their patron. Behind an apparently innocuous scene, as Arbeteta pointed out, there may lie a whole aesthetic concept counterposed to the splendour of official art, identified with the Counter-Reformation of Cardinal Borromeo.

Owing to the technique and appearance of the engraved scene, the anatomies of the figures and the type of vegetation, it seems likely that the work came from one of the leading workshops in Milan, that of the Sarachi brothers, together with the Platter with the story of Hermaphroditus and cameos of the Twelve Caesars (O80) and the Cup of the Four Seasons (O83) at the Prado, or the Flask with Midas and Apollo or Orpheus (Inventario gemme 1921, no. 620) and the Cup with marine scene (Inventario gemme 1921, no. 620) at the Museo degli Argenti in Florence. The way a matte finish is obtained by using a grinding wheel to make incisions on the polished surface of the crystal, the technique used in intaglio, gives the piece a similar language. It also has parallels with cups of the type described in Philip II’s inventory as “imperial”. Arbeteta suggests that some part might have been played in the design by the sculptor, medallist and goldsmith Annibale Fontana (1540-1587), who had family ties with this workshop through his marriage to the artists’ sister, Ippolita Sarachi. There are resemblances with the Vase with the stories of Susannah and Judith at the Louvre, MR 280, in the solution of leaving the upper part of the vessel smooth and unadorned. This is repeated in other Milanese pieces that likewise alternate rich decoration with spaces which are left empty or decorated with simple motifs.

Original state: Juan Laurent y Minier, “Flacon, en cristal de roche, montures d’or avec émaux, XVIe siècle, règne de Henri III”, c. 1879. Museo del Prado, HF0835/42 (L. Arbeteta, in press).

Technical data

Related artworks

Case for the cup with grape harvesting scenes
Velvet, Leather, Wood, Metal, 1570 - 1600
Copa de la Vendimia y jarra con asas en forma de bichas
Albumen on photographic paper, Ca. 1879
Inventory number
O000081
Author
Workshop of the Sarachi; Fontana, Annibale -Designer- (?)
Title
Cup with grape harvesting scenes
Date
1570 - 1600
Technique
Enamelled; Carved; Engraved; Esmerilado
Medium
Rock crystal / Hyaline quartz; Enamel; Gold
Dimension
Height: 29 cm.; Diameter: 11 cm.; Weight: 855 g.; Diameter of the base: 6.5 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. 136-137.

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. 269,270.

Arbeteta Mira, Letizia, 'Taller de los Sarachi; Annibale Fontana (?).Copa de la Vendimia' En:, Arte transparente. La talla del cristal en el Renacimiento milanés., Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 114-117 n.12.

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

Other inventories +

Inv. Gabinete Historia Natural, 1776. Núm. 107.
Vaso en forma de perfumador

Exhibitions +

Transparent Art. Rock Crystal Carving in Renaissance Milan
Madrid
14.10.2015 - 10.01.2016

Grandezza e Splendori della Lombardía Spagnola, 1535-1701
Milán
10.04.2002 - 16.06.2002

Location +

Room 079B (On Display)

Update date: 02-05-2019 | Registry created on 02-12-2015

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