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Footed heliotrope cup in the form of a duck
Workshop of the Sarachi (?)
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Workshop of the Sarachi (?)

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Footed heliotrope cup in the form of a duck

1590 - 1620. Enamel, Bloodstone, Gold.
Room 079B

Vessel made up of four pieces of heliotrope and five gold mounts enamelled in opaque sky blue, turquoise, white and black, and translucent green. The irregular body has the form of a scallop shell, with marked gadroons and incisions parallel to the lip, and crudely carved ovals around the rim. On the sides are two small monolithic handles surmounted by enamelled gold mounts representing the heads of sea monsters, traditionally identified as dolphins. The shell-shaped bowl acquires an animal profile through the addition of a mount bearing the stylised head of a duck or ostrich, its long neck, feathers and beak all minutely carved. It is supported, in the style of a tall tazza, by a baluster stem and a circular foot, both adorned with mounts of a design similar to that of the neck. According to Arbeteta, the mounting and the vessel were made at the same time. It is a reproduction on a smaller scale of a design used in rock crystal ware.

The piece was possibly made in some Milanese workshop with a knowledge of the models created by the Miseroni, a family that produced an extensive range of vessels with shell designs. The workshop in question may well have been that of the Sarachi, who had close reciprocal contacts with the Miseroni. This was the attribution made with reservations by Arbeteta on the basis of the treatment of the stone, since its somewhat schematic carving and sharp incisions are reminiscent of rock crystal techniques rather than hardstone work, which permits a finer finish with less risk of cracking. The overall volumes of the body recall the evolution of Gasparo Miseroni’s model of a vessel with a shell-shaped bowl on a baluster stem. His son Ottavio made various interpretations of the old pattern, with or without a monster coiled around the rear end of the shell. In this case, the vessel appears to be a workshop piece based on this idea. The circular foot, the baluster stem and the adornment of overlays are found in similar but not identical form in some pieces by Ottavio dating from the first decade of the 17th century, such as two jade cups with round feet and baluster stems, one in Stuttgart, at the Württembergisches Landesmuseum, inv. Kunstkammer grün 34, and the other at the Kunstkammer of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv. 1651. A similar head, with the plumage on the neck resolved in the same manner, appears on a rock crystal vessel in Vienna, likewise at the Kunstkammer, inv. 2357, which is attributed to Ottavio Miseroni by Distelberger. However, there are uncertainties regarding such attributions, since vessels with the same head have been attributed, possibly more convincingly, to the Sarachi workshop, such as the galley-shaped cup, no. 8 of the inventario del Bargello 1917, at the Museo degli Argenti in Florence, with balusters, a raised stern, and other features characteristic of the production of this workshop, and the dragon-shaped vessel, no. 11 of the inventario del Bargello 1917, considered a product of the same workshop. It also bears a certain resemblance to the head of the boat-shaped vessel O114 at the Prado, which Arbeteta attributed to the Sarachi workshop.

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, HF0835/28.

Technical data

Inventory number
Workshop of the Sarachi (?)
Footed heliotrope cup in the form of a duck
1590 - 1620
Chased; Enamelled; Carved
Enamel; Bloodstone; Gold
Height: 14 cm; Width: 14.3 cm; Base/bottom: 12.8 cm; Weight: 217 g; Diameter of the base: 4.5 cm
Tesoro del Delfín
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Angulo Íñiguez, Diego, Catálogo de las Alhajas del Delfín, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1989 (ed.rev), pp. 55-57.

El Real Sitio de La Granja de San Ildefonso: retrato y escena del rey, Patrimonio Nacional; El Viso, Madrid, 2000.

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. 332-333.

Arbeteta, Leticia, 'Tesoro del delfín. Una herencia de la familia real francesa' En:, Los tesoros ocultos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 2017, pp. 248-276.

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

Azcue Brea, Leticia, Rarezas y lujo para deslumbrar: el Tesoro del Delfín., Ars & Renovatio.Centro de Estudios de Arte del Renacimiento, 7, 2019, pp. 504-519.

Tortajada, Sonia, Sobre la identificacion de materiales pétreos el Tesoro del Delfín, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXXVII, 2019-2021, pp. 53-68 [62,64].

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 34.
Alhajas y efectos preciosos que se hallaban colocados en el Gabinete de Historia natural y trasladados al Real Museo de Pintura y Escultura de S. M., en virtud de Rl. orden de 11 de Mayo de 1839 [...] 34. Otro vaso en forma de concha con su cabeza al parecer de Dragon, con sus dos asas, base y pie de piedra sanguina, la cabeza guarnecida, las dos asas con otras dos cabezas, base y pie, sus engarces de oro esmaltado de verde, azul y blanco, y las cabezas de las asas aturquesado, regulado en una onza de oro poco mas o menos.

Inv. Gabinete Historia Natural, 1776. Núm. 34.
Otro vaso en forma de concha con su caveza al parezer de Dragon, sus dos asas, vasa y pie de piedra blasma, digo sanguina, la caveza guarnezida; las dos asas con otras dos cabezas: vasa y pie, sus engarzes de oro, esmaltado de verde, azul, y blanco, y las cavezas de las asas atorquesado; regulado en una onza de oro, poco mas o menso, qe. junto con la piedra de dho vaso y la caja donde se halla vale 4.294....10.

Listado de objetos robados del Real Gabinete de Historia Natural en 1813 y devueltos en 1816. Núm. 34.
Otro vaso en forma de concha, con su caveza al parecer de Dragon, sus dos asas, basa y pie de piedra sanguinea, la caveza guarnecida, las dos asas con otras dos cavezas vasa y pie; sus engarces de oro esmaltado de verde azul y blanco, y las cavezas de las asas atorquesado, regulado en una onza de oro poco mas ó menos, que junto con la piedra de dho vaso y la caja donde se halla, vale ... 4.294...10 [Falta el cuerpo de una de las dos asas que está desprendido: lo demás está bien.]

Inv. Felipe V, La Granja, Tesoro del Delfín, 1746. Núm. 123.
Una Taza en figura de Annade con pie, y Asas de Piedra Agata Verde, con una mancha encarnada debajo de la Cola tiene seis guarniciones de color oro Esmaltado; por la Caveza ocho dedos de alto, y de ella, á Cola otros ocho dedos de largo, con Caja de Tafilete encarnado.

Inscriptions +

Scrap of paper. On underside

414 51
Scrap of paper. On underside

Exhibitions +

El Real Sitio de La Granja de San Ildefonso. retrato y escena del rey
La Granja
15.06.2000 - 15.10.2000

Location +

Room 079B (On Display)

Update date: 30-04-2022 | Registry created on 26-11-2015

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