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Fragment of boat-shaped rock crystal vessel with Neptune on a dolphin
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Fragment of boat-shaped rock crystal vessel with Neptune on a dolphin

Ca. 1590. Rock crystal / Hyaline quartz, Silver gilt. Room 079B

To go by the descriptions in the 17th and 18th century inventories of the Dauphin’s Treasure, and judging from the volumes of the interior of its case, this vessel, which was badly damaged during the Peninsular War, would have been formed by three pieces of rock crystal, two copper gilt mounts and a silver gilt statuette. The body would have been a piece with a diminished arch profile in the form of a boat with keel and stern. It had three gadroons, probably towards the prow. The foot, to judge by the existing fragments, was smaller, with decoration restricted to branches with rows of seeds and the candeliere motif with a termination of fruit and leaves. It is described in the 1689 Versailles inventory as resting on a base in the form of a fleuron carved in a single piece with the stem. At the stern is a crystal scallop shell where Neptune used to be seated on a dolphin. Also mentioned is a gold incrustation enamelled in black that supported the shell. Original state:

Although the piece was not stolen, it was already destroyed when it returned from Paris, since the Spanish Embassy in Paris testified in 1815 that there were no more than three fragments remaining. This report seems to have been mistaken, since the Governing Committee of the Museo de Ciencias Naturales confirmed in 1939 that there were a number of other fragments left. These are the ones preserved today.

Depictions of Neptune riding on dolphins or a scallop shell were common in the prints and jewellery of the 16th century. A design for a pendant in the repertory engraved in 1581 by Hans Baptist Collaert II (Antwerp 1566-c. 1620) shows the sea god surrounded by dolphins and riding on a scallop shell. Another later variant dating from 1582 shows Neptune with two Naiads on a dragon or sea monster. Two designs by the same author for ornamental bosses with, respectively, Neptune and Amphitrite seated on shells and drawn by dolphins were published in 1582. At the Museo del Prado, vessel O54 also had a sculpture of the god Neptune riding on a dolphin. This was stolen in 1918 (L. Arbeteta, in press).

Technical data

Related artworks

Inventory number
O000117
Author
Anonymous
Title
Fragment of boat-shaped rock crystal vessel with Neptune on a dolphin
Date
Ca. 1590
Technique
Chased; Carved; Esmerilado
Medium
Rock crystal / Hyaline quartz; Silver gilt
Dimension
Height: 11.1 cm.; Weight: 422 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. 186-187.

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. 183,184.

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

Other inventories +

Agates, cristaux, procelaines, bronzes, et autres curiositez qui sont dans le Cabinet de Monseigneur le Dauphin a Versailles. Núm. 21 C.
Numº 21 / Prix contant Pistoles 70 / Un grand Vase long en forme de coquille à trois godrons gravé de de rinceaux et d'oiseaux, au derriere duquel est une coquille renversée sur laquelle est assis une figure de Neptune de cuivre doré avec un chaton d'or emaillé de noir qui tient la coquille. Le tout porté sur son pied en forme de fleuron avec la patte de mesme piece. Le dit Vase haut de trois pouces et demi, long de dix pouces et large de sept pouces. / Valeur 100

Inv. Felipe V, La Granja, Tesoro del Delfín, 1746. Núm. 47.
Una Copa con pie de Christal de Roca gravados algunos ramitos, con una Figura de Neptuno de lo mismo, sentada sobre una Concha, y una guarnicion en el pie de Color de Oro (está algo sentida) y tiene siete dedos de alto; con Caja como la antecedente [de tafilete negro].

Inv. Gabinete Historia Natural, 1776. Núm. 125.
Un vaso de forma de varco con una concha que tiene una figura de plata qe. representa à Neptuno, dorado, con dos engarzes de cobre dorado vale 130

Listado de objetos robados del Real Gabinete de Historia Natural en 1813 y devueltos en 1816. Núm. 125.
Un vaso en forma de Barco con una concha, todo él quebrado y de cristal de roca, escepto la concha que tiene una figura de plata que representa a Neptuno dorado con dos engarces de cobre dorado: vale ... 130 [El vaso está roto no existen mas qe. tres pedazos de la cara del Neptuno]

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 125.
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 [...] 125. Un vaso en forma de barco con una concha, todo el quebrado y de cristal de roca, escepto la concha que tiene una figura de plata que representa a Neptuno, dorado, con dos engastes de cobre dorado.

LAOBRANOTIENEINSCRIPCIONES

LAOBRANOTIENETRANSCRIPCIONES

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Location +

Room 079B (On Display)

Expuesto
Update date: 08-07-2021 | Registry created on 31-10-2017

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