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Gadrooned sardonyx cup with an eagle’s head
Anonymous; Taller parisino; Belle, Josias (?)
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Taller parisino
Belle, Josias (?)

Gadrooned sardonyx cup with an eagle’s head

s IV - V century. Diamond, Emerald, Gold, Ruby, Ágata sardónice. Room 079B

The vessel is formed by three pieces of agate in different tones and four enamelled gold mounts. The body is an ancient piece of sardonyx decorated with concave gadroons and darts. A broad gold mount runs around the rim, with an enamelled design of black and white foliage linked by festoons of blue ribbons, except for the lower strip, which is enamelled in green and dark blue. Resting on the edge is an eagle’s head enamelled in black and white. On the stem is a thick enamelled knop with overlays of black and white foliage, blue ribbon patterns and translucent green leaves. The vessel had a handle in the form of a dragon that was stolen in 1918.

This vessel was mounted in such a way as to form a pair with O43. Verlet proposed a possible attribution of both pieces to the silversmith Josias Belle (or Besle).

When the vessel was inventoried at La Granja de San Ildefonso in 1746 after the death of Philip V, it was decorated with fifty-eight precious stones. Of these, four diamonds, four rubies and three emeralds remain today. During the theft of the Dauphin’s Treasure in 1918, it also lost the mount of the foot and the lateral handle in the form of an enamelled gold dragon, which was positioned opposite the eagle’s head.

The body has three small holes covered with pieces of stone, which indicates an earlier use, probably as a low bowl. This peculiarity is already described in the inventory of the Dauphin’s collection drawn up at Versailles in 1689. Ancient vessels with similar characteristics include the so-called Chalice of the Emperor Romanos, preserved at the Treasury of St Mark’s in Venice; the chalice of Charles IV in Prague Cathedral; and the fragment of a cup found in Syria, now kept at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.

It is quite possible that this vessel was remodelled in the early 18th century to match O-43 of the Dauphin’s Treasure, either because its mount had deteriorated or because its taste had become antiquated. It would have been then that the enamelled gold handle was added in the form of a dragon decorated with precious stones, a motif that was still fashionable at that time to judge by various examples preserved at the Musée du Louvre which belong to the former collection of Louis XIV.

The Museo del Prado has the photograph by Juan Laurent y Minier Coupe agate sardoine, montures d’or et argent avec pierres précieuses et émaux, XVIe siècle, règne de François I”, c. 1879. Museo del Prado, HF0835/24 (L. Arbeteta, in press).

Technical data

Related artworks

Sardonyx cup with eagle's head
Diamond, Enamel, Emerald, Gold, Ruby, Ágata sardónice, 323 a.C. - 321 a.C.
Case for gadrooned sardonyx cup with an eagle’s head
Wood, Metal, Cloth, Leather, 1690 - 1711
Copa gallonada de sardónice con cabeza de águila
Albumen on photographic paper, Ca. 1863
Inventory number
Anonymous; Taller parisino; Belle, Josias (?)
Gadrooned sardonyx cup with an eagle’s head
s IV - V century; After 1689
Chased; Enamelled; Carved; Mounted / set
Diamond; Emerald; Gold; Ruby; Ágata sardónice
Height: 22.1 cm.; Width: 15.6 cm.; Base/bottom: 13.2 cm.; Weight: 661 g.; Diameter of the base: 8.3 cm.
Tesoro del Delfín
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Angulo Íñiguez, Diego, Catálogo de las Alhajas del Delfín, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1989 (ed.rev), pp. 87.

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. 152-153.

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

Other inventories +

Agates, cristaux, procelaines, bronzes, et autres curiositez qui sont dans le Cabinet de Monseigneur le Dauphin a Versailles. Núm. 18.

Inv. Felipe V, La Granja, Tesoro del Delfín, 1746. Núm. 28.

Inv. Gabinete Historia Natural, 1776. Núm. 70.
Vaso de piedra agata

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 70.
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 [...] 70. Otro vaso de piedra Ágata y su pie, el vaso agallonado por dentro en hondo guarnecido en redondo de oro, tiene por su asa una sierpe con alas, por pico una cabeza de aguila, en la boca y pie tres engastes, todo lo dicho de oro esmaltado de verde, azul, negro, blanco y purpura, uno de relieve, otro de matiz compuesto de hojas, cartones y engastes sobrepuestos tambien se oro y plata, guarnecido con veinte y tres diamantes rosas de varios tamaños, y trece rubíes sobre uno que le falta en el pie con su engaste de plata, los demás de oro, tres rubíes son caujones, otros abrillantados, [...]

There are no temporary exhibitions related to this work

Location +

Room 079B (On Display)

Update date: 25-06-2020 | Registry created on 26-11-2015

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