• Important Early European Furni auction at Christies

    Sale 7764

    Important Early European Furniture, Sculpture & Tapestries

    5 November 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 305

    A GOLD- AND ENAMEL-MOUNTED ROCK CRYSTAL DOUBLE-HANDLED VASE

    THE BODY ITALIAN, LATE 16TH CENTURY, THE HANDLES, CIRCLE OF REINHOLD VASTERS, CIRCA 1880

    Price Realised  

    A GOLD- AND ENAMEL-MOUNTED ROCK CRYSTAL DOUBLE-HANDLED VASE
    THE BODY ITALIAN, LATE 16TH CENTURY, THE HANDLES, CIRCLE OF REINHOLD VASTERS, CIRCA 1880
    The body carved with Apollo flaying Marsyas on one side and Orpheus playing a violin in a pastoral scene on the other; the body with scrolling handles in the form of winged caryatids mounted with polychrome enamel and pearls; on a circular gold, enamel and diamond-mounted foot; minor repairs and losses
    6 in. (15.3 cm.) high


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    As with many other minerals, rock crystal has always been held to possess special powers which could aid its owner. This was particularly true in that rock crystal - which was both 'invisible' and incredibly durable - seemed to represent that interim state between the seen and unseen worlds. For Christians in particular, rock crystal had associations with the conception of Christ, where the rock crystal represented the pure receptacle which was the Virgin, receiving the light of her Son.
    From the very earliest civilisations, rock crystal has therefore been crafted into jewellery, sculptures and vessels. However, one of the high points of its use was certainly in the 16th century, when princely courts vied with each other to produce the most sumptuous, mounted, rock crystal objects as a method of displaying their sophistication and wealth. One of the greatest repositories of these objects today is the collection of the French Dauphin, son of Louis XIV, which was inherited by the Dauphin's son, Philip V of Spain, and which is now housed in the Prado, Madrid. Among the rock crystal pieces in this collection, a number have close stylistic similarities to the body of the present cup. The spiralling gadroon borders at top and bottom can be seen on at least three items dated to the second half of the 16th century (Iniguez, op. cit., nos. 74-76), and the mythological scenes, including the distinctive depiction of the trees, relates to a platter dated to circa 1580 (ibid, no. 80). In its original form, the cup may have had a lid and, assuming this to be the case, it is easy to see why a craftsman of the later 19th century would take a precious object of the renaissance, and embellish it with the present handles and enamelled gold mounts

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Saleroom Notice

    Please note the additional provenance for the present lot:

    Formerly part of the collection of The Right Hon. Sir Julian Goldsmith, Bart., M.P. and sold by order of his executors at Christie's London, 8th June 1896, lot 716
    Acquired from the above sale by H. Quilter.
    Émile Molinier, Paris, 1906.
    Lady Astor of Hever, sold Christe's London, 16th December 1986, lot 179 (£19,800) whereupon acquired by the father of the present owner.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A EUROPEAN COLLECTOR
    (LOTS 300-385)


    Literature

    COMPARATIVE LITERATURE:
    Diego Angulo Iniguez, Catálogo de las Alhajas del Delfín, Madrid, 1989.
    S. Raulet, Rock Crystal Treasures from Antiquity to Today, Paris, 1999, pp. 108-145.