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Rock crystal vessel in the form of an eagle
Taller de las Águilas
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Taller de las Águilas

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Rock crystal vessel in the form of an eagle

1550 - 1600. Rock crystal / Hyaline quartz, Enamel, Gold.
Room 079B

A vessel made up of eight pieces of rock crystal and nine enamelled gold mounts. It represents a bird, possibly an eagle to judge by the beak. A ring mount with a motif of black stripes and ova joins it to a boat-shaped body with a gadroon at the rear. This body, together with the cover, completes the ovate profile of the bird, whose entire surface is covered with incised decoration imitating feathers. Next to the tail is another feather with spiral motifs embedded in the gold. The tail and two short wings are joined to the body with ring mounts. Beneath, ending in another mount and a crystal knop with a gold and enamelled band decorated with whorls and fleurettes, are the stem and foot, shaped like the bird’s legs, with powerful claws resting on a circular base adorned with the same type of mount as the knop.

The Sarachi workshop in Milan specialised in animal figures, and was imitated by other minor workshops in the city. This vessel is a work of fine quality, both in the design and in the execution. The legs of the bird recall those of a fantastic hybrid carved in heliotrope that is preserved at the Louvre, OA 39, and are also generally reminiscent of the wings and legs of O110 at the Prado. However, unlike most of the Milanese vessels in the form of animals, as Arbeteta pointed out, this bird is rendered naturalistically, without trying to represent a non-existent hybrid or monstrous animal as a reflection of the rarities of the Chambers of Wonders. Indeed, there is nothing in the decoration or composition of this piece to set it apart from the reality of nature. There are similarities with the bird with a heron’s beak at the Kunstkammer in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv. 2238, which still preserves part of its natural appearance despite remodelling. Attributed to the Sarachi workshop, it is a vessel of the type known as Reiger (herons) owing to its adornment with plumes of natural feathers to emphasise the rock crystal figure. The work on the wings resembles that of vessel O110 of the Dauphin’s Treasure, and also the bird-shaped piece at the Museo degli Argenti, Inventario Gemme 1921, no. 721, made in about 1589 and attributed to the Sarachi workshop.

Eight cases in the Dauphin’s Treasure were made at the same workshop as that of the vessel discussed here. They protected objects that included eagle motifs, with similar mounts of stripes and ova in gold and black enamel, although the broader mounts have different motifs. It might be thought that this bird and the other vessels were commissioned from different workshops by the same client, though always insisting on the motif of the eagle, perhaps for heraldic purposes. However, the cases seem contemporary with the vessels, which suggests they might have been linked to the production of a specific workshop that has been tentatively named the Workshop of the Eagles.

Original state: Juan Laurent y Minier, “Vase, cristal de roche taillé et gravé, montures d’or et émail, XVIe siècle, règne de Henri III”, c. 1879. Museo del Prado, HF0835/37.

Technical data

Related artworks

Case for rock crystal vessel in the form of an eagle
Fabric, Leather, Wood, Metal, 1650 - 1689
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Albumen on photographic paper, Ca. 1863
Clifford, Jane
Inventory number
Taller de las Águilas
Rock crystal vessel in the form of an eagle
1550 - 1600
Enamelled; Carved; Engraved
Rock crystal / Hyaline quartz; Enamel; Gold
Height: 21.5 cm; Width: 21 cm; Base/bottom: 13.5 cm; Weight: 688 g; Ancho base: 7.1 cm; Bottom of the base: 8.5 cm
Tesoro del Delfín
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Angulo Íñiguez, Diego, Catálogo de las Alhajas del Delfín, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1989 (ed.rev), pp. 173.

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. 272,273.

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. 92.
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 [...] 92. Otro vaso hechura de ave de cristal de roca con su tapa y alas en ella, pie y todo del propio cristal, abierto a buril, con plumas en la tapa, alas, cola, cuerpo, muslos y asiento, su guarnicion de oro esmaltado de negro, blanco, azul y verde.

Inv. Gabinete Historia Natural, 1776. Núm. 92.
Otro vaso, hechura de ave, de cristal de Roca con su tapa, y alas en ella; pie, y todo del propio cristal, abierto a buril, con plumas en la tapa: alas, cola, cuerpo muslos, y asiento su guarnicion de oro, esmaltado de negro, blanco, azul y verde, vale 3.886.

Listado de objetos robados del Real Gabinete de Historia Natural en 1813 y devueltos en 1816. Núm. 92.
Otro vaso hechura de ave de cristal de roca con su tapa y alas en ella pie y todo del propio cristal, abierto á buril con plumas en la tapa, alas, cola cuerpo, muslos y asiento; su guarnicion de oro esmaltado de negro, blanco, azul, y verde: vale ... 3.886 [Conforme; esceptuando una ala que está rota]

Inv. Felipe V, La Granja, Tesoro del Delfín, 1746. Núm. 92.
Un Vasso en forma de Paloma con las alas haviertas Caveza, pies, y Cola todo de Christal de Roca, con ocho guarniciones de color de oro Esmaltado, qe. inclusas las alas Tiene doce dedos de alto, y Caja de Tafilete verde.

Agates, cristaux, procelaines, bronzes, et autres curiositez qui sont dans le Cabinet de Monseigneur le Dauphin a Versailles. Núm. 25 C.
Numº 25 / Prix contant Pistoles 60 / Un Vase de Cristal de roche couvert en forme d'Aigle avec aîles, teste et queüe, porté sur ses pattes de mesme qualité. Letout garni de cercles de vermeil doré enrichis d'appliques d'or emaillé haut depuis la teste jusqu'eaux pieds de neuf pouces neuf lignes. / Valeur

Inscriptions +

Scrap of paper. On the body

Location +

Room 079B (On Display)

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

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