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Two-spouted vase with the bust of a woman
Workshop of the Sarachi (?)
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Two-spouted vase with the bust of a woman

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

A vessel with a hemispherical body that closes to form a narrower round mouth with an unadorned gold mount surrounded by concave double gadroons, and with two lips on the ends formed by feline masks with veils and bats’ wings. The cover, with a similar mount, also presents a decoration of helicoidal gadroons and a finial, which may be an addition, consisting of a female bust with a diadem, chain mail, and a Roman-style coiffure. It rests on a short stem and small foot from which a gadrooned mount is missing. This is visible in photographs taken before 1918, as is a broad openwork band that separated the body from the cover, forming a neck that is now lacking. These mounts were added in France, possibly in about 1680, perhaps with the intention of achieving a more convincing imitation of classical urns in accordance with models like the one published by Enea Vico in 1543.

Forms like that of this vase are found in works attributed to the Miseroni workshop. However, the decoration of the body, notwithstanding its quality, does not follow the habitual style of the vegetable motifs in the production of this family, which tends to be more delicate, with extremely fine scrolls and festoons. Lines divide the urn into three parts. The upper one is decorated with gadroons, while on the central strip are garlands, ribbons and personifications of the four rivers of the world. The lower part is covered with a patterns of broad spirals formed by tendrils and foliage, petals and rows of seeds in decreasing size, which are transformed into dragons with a bearded human face and long neck, or with birds’ bills and fins, in the style of some prints by Daniel Hopfer (1470-1536). There are also serpents coiled around the tendrils and young winged men with the same profile as certain figures who appear in other works attributed to the Sarachi, such as the Grape harvest vessel (O81) and the Platter with the story of Hermaphroditus and cameos of the Twelve Caesars (O80) at the Prado, a similarity which persuaded Arbeteta to propose the authorship of that workshop. Moreover, the piece’s technical characteristics are also close to those habitual in the Sarachi workshop, with Michelangelesque figures in the style of those designed by Annibale Fortuna, and motifs taken from the ornamental drawings and prints produced in the second quarter of the 16th century by artists like Tempesta, Agostino Musi, Perin del Vaga, Etienne Delaune, Marco Dente, Cornelis Bos, or Jacques Androuet Du Cerceau.

Alcouffe thought that these were vases for floral decorations (pots à bouquets), but Arbeteta has proposed the possibility that they were designed for use as (or simply as an imitation of the form of) perfume holders or lamps, like piece O112 at the Prado. There may be support of both an archaeological and a philosophical nature for this proposal.

Original state: Juan Laurent y Minier, “Vase à parfums, en cristal de roche taillé et gravé, montures d’or, XVIe siècle, règne de Henri IV”, c. 1879. Museo del Prado, HF0835/36 (L. Arbeteta, in press).

Technical data

Related artworks

Case for two-spouted vase with the bust of a woman
Leather, Wood, Metal, Cloth, 1650 - 1711
Two-spouted vase with the bust of a woman
Albumen on photographic paper, Ca. 1863
Barco y urna con dos picos y busto de mujer
Albumen on photographic paper, Ca. 1879
Inventory number
Workshop of the Sarachi (?)
Two-spouted vase with the bust of a woman
1550 - 1575; Ca. 1680
Enamelled; Carved; Engraved
Rock crystal / Hyaline quartz; Gold
Height: 22 cm.; Width: 21 cm.; Base/bottom: 16.4 cm.; Weight: 1142 g.; Diameter of the base: 6.5 cm.
Tesoro del Delfín
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Angulo Íñiguez, Diego, Catálogo de las Alhajas del Delfín, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1989 (ed.rev), pp. 157.

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. 185,186.

Arbeteta Mira, Letizia, 'Taller de los Sarachi (?). Urna con dos picos y busto de mujer' En:, Arte transparente. La talla del cristal en el Renacimiento milanés., Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 100-103 n.9.

Una colección, un criollo erudito y un rey. Un gabinete para una monarquía ilustrada, Editorial CSIC,, Madrid, 2016, pp. 84.

Azcue Brea,L. Simal López,M. Cardito,Y., 'La participación de piezas del Tesoro del Delfín del Museo del Pradoen la Exposición Histórico-Natural y Etnográfica' En:, Ministerio de Educación Cultura y Deporte, Madrid, 2017, pp. 295-308

Arbeteta, L. Azcue, L., El Tesoro del Delfín, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2018, 2018.

Other inventories +

Inv. Gabinete Historia Natural, 1776. Núm. 122.
Vaso grande, en forma de perfumador...

Exhibitions +

Una colección, un criollo erudito y un rey. Un gabinete para una monarquía ilustrada
04.11.2016 - 09.05.2017

Transparent Art. Rock Crystal Carving in Renaissance Milan
14.10.2015 - 10.01.2016

Location +

Room 079B (On Display)

Update date: 21-02-2020 | Registry created on 02-12-2015

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