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Octagonal coffer covered in enamelled gold with engravings and cameos
Delabarre, Pierre (Circle of)
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Delabarre, Pierre (Circle of)

Octagonal coffer covered in enamelled gold with engravings and cameos

1630 - 1670. Agate, Amethyst, Cowry, Enamel, Garnet, Bloodstone, Iron, Lapis lazuli, Silver gilt, Prasiolite, Sardonyx, Gold gilt. Room 079B

The coffer is a key item in any study of French silverware and European collecting. Initially part of Cardinal Mazarin’s collection, on his death it was sold at auction, subsequently being acquired by the Grand Dauphin. The gold crafting links this piece to a group of works associated with the so-called Maestro of Dragons, Pierre Delabarre, a Parisian silversmith who qualified as a master craftsman in 1625. The entire surface of the eight faces is richly decorated by a band of enamelled gold, with a design of pointed leaves, interwoven and concave, from which smaller leaves emerge with threaded beads. The enamels are highly varied in colour, ranging from white to black through blues, lilac, ochre and various shades of green. Scattered among the floral motifs are 152 engravings and cameos inlaid in ovals with enamelled garlands.

The coffer has 152 cameos and engravings, whose arrangement probably follows a programme with political intentions. The cameos are mainly 16th century Italian, whereas virtually all the engravings are older. Apart from series lacking any particular significance – scenes of lovers, fauns and minor figures – and the usual male and female heads deriving from various sources, there are depictions of the major classical deities, such as Jupiter on Olympus, Minerva, Apollo with his lyre and Helios, the sun god. Apollo and Marsyas feature frequently, and also appear on the inside of the coffer. Diana the huntress, like the references to Bacchus, conjures up the world of forests and wine. Love and beauty are also present in the engraving of a dolphin, the symbol of loyal friendship unto death, and the motto: Amoris Habes Pignus; Love and Psyche, Cupid; Venus listening to complaints about Cupid; the Three Graces and Mars. These contrast with scenes from the underworld: Vulcan working at his forge, Pluto with Cybele and Proserpina. There are also heroes such as Hercules, depicted twice, possibly in reference to the Gallic Hercules, and a third with the Nemean lion. Alexander appears, deified, and David, the hero of Judeo-Christian tradition, vanquishing a more powerful enemy. Scipio Africanus and Charles V in the Tunisia expedition allude to military victories. Lucretia, Castor and Pollux, and Asclepius are among the other figures associated with human behaviour. Spirits of the theatre, winged spirits in various poses, representations of rivers such as the Tiber, and symbolic animals: references to the fables of the eagle and the tortoise, the stork and the lizard, etc. At the sides, two horizontal carnelian cameos showing a reclining woman and man, the latter with a cornucopia. Possibly belonging to the Christian tradition are three veiled women, perhaps the three Marys, as well as a group of three identical bearded faces, a possible representation of the Trinity, common at the end of the 15th century and later considered heretical.

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, HF0835/16 (L. Arbeteta, in press).

Technical data

Related artworks

Case for octagonal coffer with engraving and cameos
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Octagonal coffer with engraving and cameos
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Inventory number
O000032
Author
Delabarre, Pierre (Circle of)
Title
Octagonal coffer covered in enamelled gold with engravings and cameos
Date
1630 - 1670
Technique
Gilded; Carving / A carved sculpture; Enamelled; Carved
Medium
Agate; Amethyst; Cowry; Enamel; Garnet; Bloodstone; Iron; Lapis lazuli; Silver gilt; Prasiolite; Sardonyx; Gold gilt
Dimension
Height: 12.5 cm.; Width: 19.8 cm.; Base/bottom: 12.8 cm.; Weight: 1169 g.
Series
Tesoro del Delfín
Provenance
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Alcouffe, Daniel, The Collection of Cardinal Mazarin's Gems, The Burlington magazine, The Burlington Magazine Publications Ltd., 1974, pp. 514, 516-526.

Gil, Cristina, El Tesoro: Una maravilla barroca perdida en el Museo del Prado, 1985/02/24, pp. 14-16.

Departamento Didáctico-Pedagógico, Alhajas del Delfín, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1989, pp. 1-8.

Angulo Íñiguez, Diego, Catálogo de las Alhajas del Delfín, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1989 (ed.rev), pp. 64-69.

Arbeteta Mira, Letizia, Nuevas noticias sobre las 'Alhajas del Delfín' (II), Boletín del Museo del Prado, 13, 1992, pp. 21-36.

Castellucio, Stéphane, Le partage de la prestigieuse collection du Grand Dauphin. La Part de Philippe D'Espagne, 2000, pp. 67.

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. 346-347.

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. 19 A.
Numº. 19 / Prix contant Pistoles 270 / Un Coffre d'acier à huit pans en forme de tombeau, dont le fond est de vermeil doré et le corps garni d'or emaillé á jour; le tout enrichi de camayeux d'Agate, d'Agate-Onix, Cornalines et Lapis-Laze tant de testes, de figures entieres qu'autres; Le tout garni de plusieurs moulures qui enferment les quarrez des dits camayeux: Porté sur dix petites boules rondes, scavoir quatre de cornalines, quatre de Lapis, et deux d'Agate-Onix. Ledit Coffre haut de quatre pouces et demi, long de sept pouces et demi et large de quatre pouces et demi. / Valeur 500.

Inv. Felipe V, La Granja, Tesoro del Delfín, 1746. Núm. 130.
Un Cofre ochavado con su Tapa, y Cerradura travajado con diferentes molduras, y todo el engastado en color de oro esmaltado, con Ciento cinquenta, y dos piezas de diferentes Piedras exquisitas, que parte de ellos son Camapheos, y parte con Cabos, el fondo exterior es de color de oro liso, y en el áy diez Bolitas, que sirven de pies, las quatro de ellas de Piedra Cornerina, quatro de Lapislazuli, y las dos restantes de Agata, y tiene once dedos de largo, siete de ancho, y siete de alto, con Caja de Tafilete Encarnado.

Inv. Gabinete Historia Natural, 1776. Núm. 12.
Un cofre ochavado, compuesto el armazon, y cerradura de yerro; el vuelo de una chapa de plata, todo el de molduras de oro, en los ochavos unas hojas, y engastes del mismo oro, esmaltado de verde, amarillo, azul, y blanco: en los engastes ciento y cinquenta y dos Camafeos de diferentes piedras, por pies diez volas de Cornonelina y Lapislazuli, regulado por quinze onzas de oro poco mas o menos, de la ley de veinte y un quilates, y en quatro onzas de plata, que todo, inclusa la caja, vale 11.108...10.

Listado de objetos robados del Real Gabinete de Historia Natural en 1813 y devueltos en 1816. Núm. 12.
Un cofre ochavado, compuesto el armazon y cerradura de yerro, el suelo de una chapa de plata, todo él de molduras de oro, en los ochavos unas ojas y engastes del mismo oro esmaltado de verde amarillo, azul y blanco en los engastes ciento cincuenta y dos camafeos de diferentes piedras; por pies diez bolas de cornelina y lapislazuli regulado por quince onzas de oro poco mas ´o menos de la ley de veinte y un quilates; y en quatro onzas de plata, que todo, inclusa la caja vale ... 44.408...10</br>[Conforme]

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 12.
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 [...] 12. Un cofre ochavado compuesto de armazon y cerradura de hierro, el suelo de una chapa de plata, todo el de molduras de oro; en los ochavosunas hojas de engastes del mismo oro, esmaltado de verde, amarillo, azul y blanco; en los engastes ciento cinquenta y dos camafeos de diferentes piedras; por pie diez bolas de Cornerina y Lapiz-lazuli, regulado por quince onzas de oro poco mas o menos, de la ley de veinte y un quilates, y en cuatro onzas de plata.

Exhibitions +

El Real Alcazar de Madrid
Madrid
14.09.1994 - 13.11.1994

Location +

Room 079B (On Display)

Expuesto
Update date: 10-09-2020 | Registry created on 26-11-2015

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