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Vase in the shape of a cockerel
Workshop of the Sarachi
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Workshop of the Sarachi

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Vase in the shape of a cockerel

Ca. 1610. Rock crystal / Hyaline quartz, Enamel, Gold Room 079B

A zoomorphic vessel representing a bird with spread wings. It is made up of eight pieces of rock crystal joined by silver gilt mounts with overlays of gold enamelled in opaque white and black, together with dark blue and translucent red, fleurettes, C shapes and simulated inset rubies. The vessel has an ovate profile with two large gadroons enfolding the bird’s tail. Emerging from the narrower front is a long neck ending in a fierce-looking head with a crest and a half-open beak. Large feathers are carved on the breast, followed by foliate scrolls that leave the hind area empty. Two mounts on the sides hold the open wings, carved to resemble plumage. The vessel is supported by legs that rest on a small foot. The cover forms the upper part of the bird, and has a small baluster as a finial.

The piece is described as an ostrich in the Versailles inventory of 1689, and as a cockerel in those of La Granja de San Ildefonso in 1746 and the Real Gabinete de Ciencias Naturales in 1776. Besides being the symbol of France, the cockerel is also emblematic of two qualities, vigilance and courage (et vigit, et pugnax), which may have both a religious and a political reading. In terms of religion, the cockerel, according to St Augustine, is the image of one who longs to attain eternal life. Politically, it represents the brave and quick-witted prince, well-informed and impervious to danger. This animal is also related to the world of tradesmen and business in general, where the necessary diligence is represented by the cock’s morning crow. For the same reason, the cockerel also symbolises the father, who has to watch over his family, and the preacher, who “awakens” the repentance of sinners with the Word of God.

Arbeteta attributed the piece to the workshop of the Sarachi. This family specialised in making vessels in the form of animals. In the specific case of this bird, there are similar pieces made of rock crystal in various sizes in a number of European collections, such as the Cockerel at the Treasury of the Teutonic Order in Vienna, inv. G029. They also resemble another type of bird-shaped vessel that is described in the old inventories as Reiger (from Reiher, “heron”), since it was adorned with plumes of natural feathers in imitation of the original bird.

Original state: Juan Laurent y Minier, “Coupe, cristal de roche taillé et gravé, montures d’argent doré et or avec émaux. XVIe siècle, règne de Henri III”, c. 1879. Museo del Prado, HF0835/37 (L. Arbeteta, in press).

Technical data

Related artworks

Case for vase in the shape of a cockerel
Leather, Wood, Metal, Cloth, 1650 - 1711
Vaso con forma de pavo y vaso en forma de águila
Albumen on photographic paper, Ca. 1879
Inventory number
O000110
Author
Workshop of the Sarachi
Title
Vase in the shape of a cockerel
Date
Ca. 1610
Technique
Chased; Enamelled; Carved; Engraved; Esmerilado
Medium
Rock crystal / Hyaline quartz; Enamel; Gold
Dimension
Height: 25.9 cm.; Width: 23.5 cm.; Base/bottom: 17 cm.; Weight: 861 g.; Ancho base: 8.3 cm.; Bottom of the base: 9.5 cm.
Series
Tesoro del Delfín
Provenance
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Angulo Íñiguez, Diego, Catálogo de las Alhajas del Delfín, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1989 (ed.rev), pp. 174.

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. 219,220.

Arbeteta Mira, Letizia, 'Taller de los Sarachi. Vaso en forma de gallo' En:, Arte transparente. La talla del cristal en el Renacimiento milanés., Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 129-131 n.16.

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

Other inventories +

Inv. Gabinete Historia Natural, 1776. Núm. 105.
Vaso... hechura de un gallo...

Exhibitions +

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

Location +

Room 079B (On Display)

Update date: 14-01-2020 | Registry created on 02-12-2015

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