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

Technical data

Inventory number
Workshop of the Sarachi ?
Two-spouted vase with the bust of a woman
1550 - 1575 (Vessel); Ca. 1680 (Adornment)
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, 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.

Tortajada, Sonia, Sobre la identificacion de materiales pétreos el Tesoro del Delfín, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXXVII, 2019-2021, pp. 53-68 [64].

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 122.
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 [...] 122. Un vaso grande en forma de perfumador, con su tapa y pie abierto de unas figuras, ramos y dos mascarones con alas, que tienen dos cañones, y por remate en la tapa una cabeza, y en ella un engaste de oro, otro en la tala y otro en la base; el pie es de plata dorada y agallonada.

Inv. Felipe V, La Granja, 1734. Núm. 230.

Inv. Gabinete Historia Natural, 1776. Núm. 122.
Un vaso grande, en forma de perfumador con su tapa y pie abierto de unas figuras, ramos y dos mascarones con alas que tienen dos cañones, y por remate en la tapa una caveza y en ella un engaste de oro, otro en la tapa, y otro en la voca el pie es de plata dorada y agallonada vale 5.398...16.

Listado de objetos robados del Real Gabinete de Historia Natural en 1813 y devueltos en 1816. Núm. 122.
Un vaso grand een forma de Perfumador con su tapa y pie, abierto de unas figuras, ramos y dos mascarones con alas, que tienen dos cañones, y por remate en la tapa, una caveza, y en ella un engaste de oro otro en la tapa y otro en la boca; el pie es de plata dorada y agallonado: vale ... 5.398...16 [Conforme]

Inv. Felipe V, La Granja, Tesoro del Delfín, 1746. Núm. 48.
Una Orza de Christal de Roca gravada, con su cubierta (algo endida) y en ella una Caveza por remate de lo mismo. Tiene, digo con quatro guarniciones doradas, y la del lavio calada, que tiene su todo Catorce dedos de alto, y Caja de Tafilete encarnado.

Agates, cristaux, procelaines, bronzes, et autres curiositez qui sont dans le Cabinet de Monseigneur le Dauphin a Versailles. Núm. 230 C.
Numº. 230 / Prix contant Pistoles 200 / Un Vase rond ayant aux costez deux testes d'animaux aislez qui forment au dessus deux biberons, gravé au corps de quatre figures, de festons et de rinceaux; avec son couvercle à godrons tournans terminé par un petit buste d'homme armé enrichi d'un collier d'or au bas, aux bords du couvercle et du Vase de deux cercles d'or donts l'un est travaillé á jour, et au pied d'un cercle godronné, haut de neuf pouces deux lignes. / Valeur

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

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