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Vase with scenes from Genesis and Exodus
Tortorino, Francesco (Workshop of)
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Tortorino, Francesco (Workshop of)

Vase with scenes from Genesis and Exodus

1550 - 1560. Rock crystal / Hyaline quartz, Enamel, Gold, Ruby. Room 079B

This vessel in the form of an urn, recently attributed by Arbeteta to Tortorino’s workshop, is a piece of special interest owing to the beauty of its carving and the delicacy of some of its mounts, which were added to it in Paris nearly a century after it was made. They are of enamelled gold decorated with miniature scenes of the life of Moses and with rubies.

The decoration is arranged from top to bottom in six bands with biblical scenes. At the top are representations of the winds, and also six angels or allegories of Fame flying among clouds while blowing their trumpets. Engraved in the central area are the scenes of the passing of the Red Sea and the destruction of Pharaoh’s army, set against marine waves with a walled city in the background, and the rock of Horeb, where several figures collect the water from the spring that has gushed at Moses’ command. In the more schematic lower area is a mountain, Ararat, where Noah’s ark is said by tradition to have come to rest. Noah himself appears in another scene alongside some vines. The foot is decorated with an aquatic landscape of bulrushes and herons.

Some details in the rendering of the small figures (curls in the hair, profiles, treatment of the edges of garments and drapery, grasses, and so on), together with the appearance of crowded compositions in such a small space, are also to be seen on the Triumphal column at the Museo degli Argenti in Florence (Inv. Gemme 1921, no. 723), suggesting that it might be a work by Francesco Tortorino, who also made the Hunting vase at the Museo del Prado (O79).

The rich mounts with narrative scenes were added to the vessel after 1689 by the goldsmiths of the Court of Louis XIV, perhaps in an effort to match it to other pieces in the Dauphin’s Treasure, or possibly to give it a more up-to-date style. Special attention is merited by the miniature painted enamel scenes that decorate the band around the lip. Framed in oblong cartouches, they show different episodes in the life of Moses, such as the passing of the Red Sea, Moses and the burning bush, the fall of manna, the worship of the golden calf, and the brazen serpent in the Israelite camp.

Original state: Juan Laurent y Minier, “Jarre, en cristal de roche taillé et gravé, montures d’or et pierreries, XVIIe siècle, règne de Henri IVFrançois 1er”, c. 1879. Museo del Prado, HF0835/45

Arbeteta Mira, Letizia, El tesoro del Delfín: alhajas de Felipe V recibidas por herencia de su padre Luis, Gran Delfín de Francia, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2001, p.100-102

Technical data

Inventory number
Tortorino, Francesco (Workshop of)
Vase with scenes from Genesis and Exodus
1550 - 1560 (Body); Ca. 1630 (Adornments); Ca. 1690
Enamelled; Engraved
Rock crystal / Hyaline quartz; Enamel; Gold; Ruby
Height: 22.6 cm.; Width: 15.9 cm.; Base/bottom: 10 cm.; Weight: 551 g.; Diameter of the base: 7.4 cm.
Tesoro del Delfín
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Angulo Íñiguez, Diego, Catálogo de las Alhajas del Delfín, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1989 (ed.rev), pp. 138-139.

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. 100-102.

Arbeteta Mira, Letizia, 'Taller de Francesco Tortorino. Vaso con escenas del Génesis y el Éxodo' En:, Arte transparente. La talla del cristal en el Renacimiento milanés., Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 76-79 n.3.

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. 47.

Inv. Felipe V, La Granja, Tesoro del Delfín, 1746. Núm. 3.
Una Jarra con su pie, Tapa, remate, y tres assas todo de Christal de Roca con cinco guarniciones de color de oro esmaltado, engastada con Sesenta Piedras Rubies Chiquitos, que inclusa el assa superior Tiene trece dedos de alto; y Caja de Tafilete encarnado.

Inv. Gabinete Historia Natural, 1776. Núm. 118.
Otro genero de Jarro con su pie dos asas y otra encima de la tapa en forma de arco, todo de cristla de roca, la tapa asas y pie guarnezidos, y esmaltados de oro, con colores: tiene el pie y tapa sesenta rubies caujones de varios tamaños vale 5.312...16.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 118.
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 [...] 118. Otro genero de jarro con su pie, dos asas y otra encima de la tapa forma de arco, todo de cristal de roca: la tapa, asas y pie guarnecidos y esmaltados de oro con colores, tiene en el pie y tapa sesenta rubíes caujones de varios tamaños.

Exhibitions +

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

Location +

Room 079B (On Display)

Update date: 15-07-2020 | Registry created on 02-12-2015

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