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Smoky quartz vase with mascarons and handles in the form of snakes
Workshop of the Miseroni; Miseroni, Ottavio (?)
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Workshop of the Miseroni
Miseroni, Ottavio (?)

Smoky quartz vase with mascarons and handles in the form of snakes

1600 - 1610. Diamond, Enamel, Emerald, Gold, Cuarzo ahumado. Room 079B

A vessel composed of four pieces: a high bowl with an oval section and bell-shaped profile, a cover in the form of a flattened cupola with a turned finial, and a low foot with a support ring. All this is joined by three mounts, the largest being that on the rim, which includes two small handles formed by two pairs of arched serpents. Emerging from the lower part of the bowl until nearly half-way up are flat ribs crowned by two large volutes or scrolls. Two masks framed by floral volutes and scrolls are seen on the sides. The cover follows the same pattern as the lower part of the bowl, with a decoration of flat ribs. The vase is attributed to the Miseroni workshop owing to the resemblance of certain details to other vessels with the same origin, such as the flat ribs, the large volutes and the masks. Similar pieces are preserved in Munich, Paris, Vienna and elsewhere. The mounts are rich and colourful, with large flowers enamelled “in porcelain style” whose centres are set with sizeable and very finely coloured cabochon-cut (i.e. without sharp edges) emeralds. There are smaller flowers and leaves with encrusted diamonds in green, white, bright yellow and sky blue with touches of crimson, all on a ground of pointillé gold. Whereas the design of the handles follows the Roman tradition as it was reinterpreted in the Renaissance, the mount denotes a fully Baroque tradition. The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna preserves numerous variants of this type of decoration, to which other coloured stones were often added to accentuate the contrast. Some floral designs of this kind are also found at the Louvre, though without stones.

Original state: Juan Laurent y Minier, “Vase en topaze enfumé, montures d’or avec émaux et pierreries. XVIe siècle, règne de Charles IX ou Henri III”, c. 1879. Museo del Prado, HF0835/33. Laurent’s photograph, taken before the 1918 robbery, shows that the mount on the foot is missing. It was nearly as broad as the one on the rim, and had the same design. In the 1746 inventory of La Granja de San Ildefonso and the one drawn up at the Real Gabinete de Historia Natural in 1776, the vase is given as having 155 diamonds and 41 emeralds, making a total of 197 precious stones. Today, 79 diamonds and 24 emeralds survive. Also missing is the large amethyst at the apex, described by the inventories. Studded with diamonds, it came from Vich in the province of Barcelona, home to the famous mineral deposit of San Segismundo del Monsén (or Montseny) (L. Arbeteta, in press).

Technical data

Related artworks

Copa de topacio ahumado
Albumen on photographic paper, Ca. 1863
Inventory number
Workshop of the Miseroni; Miseroni, Ottavio (?)
Smoky quartz vase with mascarons and handles in the form of snakes
1600 - 1610 (Vessel); Ca. 1647 (Adornments)
Chased; Enamelled; Carved; Mounted / set
Diamond; Enamel; Emerald; Gold; Cuarzo ahumado
Height: 26.8 cm.; Width: 15 cm.; Base/bottom: 9.7 cm.; Weight: 1903 g.; Ancho base: 5.4 cm.; Bottom of the base: 6.4 cm.
Tesoro del Delfín
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Angulo Íñiguez, Diego, Catálogo de las Alhajas del Delfín, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1989 (ed.rev), pp. 164-165.

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. 114,115.

Arbeteta Mira, Letizia, 'Taller de los Miseroni, Ottavio (?) Dionysio (?). Vaso en forma de velón' En:, Arte transparente. La talla del cristal en el Renacimiento milanés., Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 140-143 n.19.

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. 2.

Inv. Felipe V, La Granja, Tesoro del Delfín, 1746. Núm. 9.

Inv. Gabinete Historia Natural, 1776. Núm. 137.
Jarro con su pie y tapa de cristal

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 137.
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 [...] 137. Un jarro con su pie y tapa de cristal de roca de color como enveisado abierto de medio relieve dos mascarones y unos cartones y uun genero de agallones, el pie liso aunque con unas lineas, rollos y filetes; en la tapa engarce de oro que ajusta la boca; en el remate dos, y en el pie otros dos; y en dicha tapa cuatro culebras enroscadas que sirven de asas: todoello esmaltado de medio relieve con flores y hojas sobrepuestas y engarces unidos; el remate es una amatista de Vich o de Barcelona, labrado por una cara quincabada, que está cascada, y por el otro lado convecsa labrado rosa, y [...]

Exhibitions +

Arte Transparente. Obras maestras de la talla del cristal de roca en el Renacimiento milanés.
13.10.2015 - 10.01.2016

Location +

Room 079B (On Display)

Update date: 30-06-2020 | Registry created on 04-12-2015

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