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Rock crystal ewer with a handle in the form of a winged beast
Workshop of Metellino, Giovanni Battista
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Workshop of Metellino, Giovanni Battista


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Rock crystal ewer with a handle in the form of a winged beast

1670 - 1689. Rock crystal / Hyaline quartz, Silver gilt.
Room 079B

A vessel made up of seven pieces of rock crystal and three silver gilt insets. Its form is very similar to that of a lipped pitcher, with a deep and asymmetrical body, a rounded mouth, and slightly everted sides, the most salient being the one that forms the spout, delimited by two gadroons. It has an oval mouth and a rim on an oblique plane, and a short stem formed by mouldings and a central knop fitted onto a round foot. The handle has the form of a very schematic bicha, a creature with a woman’s head and outspread wings. The 1689 Versailles inventory described the head on this handle as representing an old woman. The decoration of the body of the vessel is arranged on two levels. The upper one is richer, with intersecting foliage ending in cornucopias and corn ears, while the decoration is repeated in more schematised form in the lower part with a number of birds and insects. Some individual motifs are also engraved on the foot.

The floral elements on the upper part of the body of the ewer seem to be arrested in their development, something also seen on other vessels at the Musée du Louvre, like OA 31, that can be attributed to Metellino’s workshop. His style is recognisable from the presence of insects, a predominance of unadorned surfaces, and undeveloped vegetable motifs. Similar characteristics can be seen in vessels O106, O107, O108 and O113 at the Prado. Louis XIV made some acquisitions directly from Milan, with no intermediary merchants, between 1685 and 1687. Lacouffe identified some of these purchases with a number of vases or cuvettes in the Louvre that resemble the vessels of this group in the Prado, and possess the same characteristics as others preserved in Dresden, Munich and Vienna. In Dresden, specifically, are the rock crystal vases that were bought in Milan in the 1720s from the heirs of Giovanni Battista Metellino by Augustus II of Poland. There are so many of these vessels that it is unlikely they all come from the same workshop. As Arbeteta suggested, following Alcouffe, some of these products probably came from Metellino’s workshop while others came from those of other declining contemporaries, since none of these works is distinguished by high quality either in the carving or the decoration. Louis XIV’s collection contained a large number of vessels in a similar style that were acquired between 1684 and 1701, and more occasionally between 1701 and 1713. Some are in the Louvre, like MR 284, which entered the royal collection after the Grand Dauphin’s death and still retains its original case, MR 284b, which belongs to the same “bouquet” series as the one in Madrid.

Original state: Juan Laurent y Minier, “Coupe, en cristal de roche taillé, et gravé, montures d’argent doré, XVIe siècle, règne de Charles IX”, c. 1879. Museo del Prado, HF0835/40.

Technical data

Inventory number
Workshop of Metellino, Giovanni Battista
Rock crystal ewer with a handle in the form of a winged beast
1670 - 1689
Chased; Carved; Engraved; Esmerilado
Rock crystal / Hyaline quartz; Silver gilt
Height: 29 cm; Width: 16.5 cm; Base/bottom: 8.6 cm; Weight: 777 g; Ancho base: 10.9 cm; Bottom of the base: 9.5 cm
Tesoro del Delfín
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Angulo Íñiguez, Diego, Catálogo de las Alhajas del Delfín, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1989 (ed.rev), pp. 161.

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. 280,281.

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.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 95.
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 [...] 95. Otro jarro con su asa y pie de cristal de roca, en el asa tiene una cabeza con dos alas, que están una quebrada y otra pegada, el jarro y pie abiertos de unos ramos, el pie y asa tienen tres engarces de plata dorada.

Inv. Gabinete Historia Natural, 1776. Núm. 95.
Otro Jarro con su asa, y pie de cristal de roca: en el asa tiene una caveza con dos alas, que estan, una quebrada, y otra pegada; el Jarro y pie abierto de unos ramos: el pie y asa tiene tres engarzes de plata dorada vale 3.605.

Listado de objetos robados del Real Gabinete de Historia Natural en 1813 y devueltos en 1816. Núm. 95.
Otro Jarro con su asa y pie de cristal de roca; en el asa tiene una caveza con dos alas que estan una quebrada y otra pegada, el jarro y pie abierto de unos ramos; y el pie y asa tiene tres engarces de plata dorada: vale ... 3.605 [Conforme]

Inv. Felipe V, La Granja, Tesoro del Delfín, 1746. Núm. 96.
Un Jarro con su pico, pie, y asa de hechura de Esphinge con sus Alas (la una quebrada) todo de Christal de Roca gravado de Flores, y Ramos con tres guarniciones de color de oro, que inclusa el asa, y Caveza del Esphinge tiene una tercia, y un dedo de alto, con Caja de Tafilete encarnado.

Agates, cristaux, procelaines, bronzes, et autres curiositez qui sont dans le Cabinet de Monseigneur le Dauphin a Versailles. Núm. 33 C.
Numº 33 / Prix contant Pistoles 50 / Une Eguiere sur son pied à balustre, ornée par le corps de rinceaux et cornes d'abondance et deux oiseaux; l'anse est formée par une teste de vieille femme et deux ailes ornée de trois cercles de vermeil. haute d'onze pouces avec l'anse, longue de quatre pouces une ligne et large de trois pouces une ligne. / Valeur

Location +

Room 079B (On Display)

Update date: 30-04-2022 | Registry created on 02-12-2015

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