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Small rock crystal ewer without a handle or lip
Toutain, Richard; Anonymous
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Toutain, Richard

Small rock crystal ewer without a handle or lip

1550 - 1575. Rock crystal / Hyaline quartz, Diamond, Enamel, Gold. Room 079B

Vessel formed by three pieces of rock crystal and two gold mounts. The globular body is carved with gadroons and dart motifs. The short neck is adorned with ova enamelled in blue and a lower spiral moulding in black enamel embedded with a wax reserve, interrupted by red scrolls and others with leaves and white, sky blue and green enamelling, once incrusted with stones. Of these, only two diamonds now remain. The gadrooned upper moulding has another string of green ova. The dome-shaped cover has four dark blue medallions, hanging veils and inset diamonds separated by four boys in chased gold and polychrome garlands. The finial is a small basket of enamelled scrolls, flowers and fruits. On the foot is a mount of the mauresque type, inspired by the Spanish Mudejar style, with white ribbon patterns on spirals embedded with a wax reserve in black enamel, and settings incrusted with four diamonds.

This vessel and two others like it in the Dauphin’s Treasure can be included in a group of pieces preserved in different museums that form a stylistic family with shared characteristics in both the carving and the mounting. Daniel Alcouffe defined them as French works of the third quarter of the 16th century, and most probably the 1560s. The crystal tends to be thick, with designs of helicoidal gadroons and dart motifs. The mounts in both gold and silver followed models derived from the Parmesan Enea Vico, whose patterns were published in 1543, and the Frenchman Etienne Delaune, among others. Features common to them all include figures of children in the round, coiled serpents, conches, eagles, dolphins, and mouldings of ova or gadroons together with enamelled patterns. Other engravers like Cornelius Floris disseminated variants of these designs, especially boys or atlantes bearing conches. These proved popular among Central European silvesmiths. In France, the main exponent of the style was Jacques Androuet du Cerceau, who in Alcouffe’s view may have inspired the designs of this group of vessels. Of the whole set, the ewer discussed here seems to be an original that provided inspiration for the others, since it is of chased gold whereas the others are of silver with a rather coarser finish, especially OA 36 at the Louvre. Unfortunately, the mutilations suffered by the vessel prevent us from appreciating the quality of its free-standing figures, but the ones on the cover in high relief are splendid.

The vessel suffered major damage in the robbery of 1918, as can be appreciated from a comparison with its case and with the photographs taken of it in the second half of the 19th century. Seen there is the sculpture of a boy leaning on a dolphin and bearing a raised conch that formed the lip, and another holding a pair of coiled serpents forming the handle. The piece has also lost most of the precious stones that once adorned it. It is a vessel of very high quality, representative of the so-called “Fontainebleau School” and very similar to another pair of small ewers in the Dauphin’s Treasure, O75 and O76, and to one preserved at the Louvre, OA 36, which also came from the Grand Dauphin’s collection.

The Museo del Prado has the photograph by Juan Laurent y Minier, Vase, en cristal de roche taillé, montures d’argent or et pierreries, XVIIe siècle, règne de Henri IV, c. 1879. Museo del Prado, HF0835/47 (L. Arbeteta, in press).

Technical data

Related artworks

Case for small rock crystal ewer without a handle or lip
Wood, Metal, Velvet, Leather, 1690 - 1711
Jarrito de cristal
Albumen on photographic paper, Ca. 1863
Inventory number
Toutain, Richard; Anonymous
Small rock crystal ewer without a handle or lip
1550 - 1575 (Body); 1560 - 1570 (Adornment)
Chased; Enamelled; Repoussé; Carved; Mounted / set
Rock crystal / Hyaline quartz; Diamond; Enamel; Gold
Height: 15.4 cm.; Diameter: 10.7 cm.; Weight: 987 g.; Diameter of the base: 5.6 cm.
Tesoro del Delfín
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Angulo Íñiguez, Diego, Catálogo de las Alhajas del Delfín, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1989 (ed.rev), pp. 120.

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. 138-140.

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. 9.

Inv. Felipe V, La Granja, Tesoro del Delfín, 1746. Núm. 19.

Inv. Gabinete Historia Natural, 1776. Núm. 119.
Vaso en forma de jarro...

There are no temporary exhibitions related to this work

Location +

Room 079B (On Display)

Update date: 06-03-2020 | Registry created on 02-12-2015

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