A German jewelled and enamelled gold-mounted agate bowl and cover
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A German jewelled and enamelled gold-mounted agate bowl and cover

BY REINHOLD VASTERS, AACHEN, CIRCA 1870, UNMARKED

Details
A German jewelled and enamelled gold-mounted agate bowl and cover
By Reinhold Vasters, Aachen, circa 1870, unmarked
In the Renaissance style, of two-handled oval form, in deep green vari-coloured agate, the base and borders applied with gold mounts enamelled with black, blue and white geometric ornament and with applied enamelled panels of reclining figures, with multi-coloured scrolling foliage with ruby and diamond collets at intervals, the partly bifurcated handles with similar collets, the vase-shaped finial rising from openwork jewelled and enamelled scrollwork, set with similar collets and with blue, green, black and red strapwork and brackets between
19in. (48.2cm.) long, 13¼in. (33.6cm.) high
Provenance
The Frédéric Spitzer Collection; Anderson Galleries; New York, 9/12 January 1929, lot 628 (described as 'French, in part 17th century')
A New York collector, Christie's New York, 28 March 1979, lot 237
Literature
Chefs d'oeuvre de la Curiositè du Monde, Paris, 1954, cat. no. 305, illustrated pl. 117
. Truman, 'Reinhold Vasters, the last of the Goldsmiths', Connoisseur, March 1979, p. 138, illustrated
Christie's Review of the Season, London, 1979, p. 310
Y. Hackenbroch, 'Reinhold Vasters, Goldsmith', Metropolitan Museum Journal, 1986, 19/20, pp. 240-1
The Glory of the Goldsmith, Magnificent Gold and Silver from the Al Tajir Collection, London, 1989, no. 220, p. 260, illustrated
Exhibited
Paris, Musèe des Arts Decoratifs, Chefs d'oeuvre de la Curiositè du Monde, 10 June - 30 September 1954, cat. no. 305, pl. 117
London, Christie's, The Glory of the Goldsmith, Magnificnet Gold and Silver from the Al Tajir Collection, 1989, no. 220
Special notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

A major group of pieces by, or attributed to, Reinhold Vasters from the collection of the Late Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild were sold in these Rooms on 14 December 2000. This included a jewelled and enamelled gold-mounted table clock, a similarly mounted rock-crystal cup and cover and a remarkable model of the Queen of Sheba in the Temple of Solomon, the designs for which, like those for this and the next lot, survive in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Reinhold Vasters (1827-1909) was born near Aachen and he entered his mark as a goldsmith in that city in 1853. His early work seems to have concentrated on church silver which was marked very straight- forwardly R. VASTERS in a rectangular punch (M. Rosenberg, Der Goldschmiede Merkzeichen, Frankfurt, 1922, vol III p.12). In addition there are two recorded Renaissance style jewels from this period bearing an RV conjoined mark struck on a small applied plaque on the reverse of the jewel. There are however indications that as early as 1850s and, certainly during the following decade, he was producing deliberate fakes in the Gothic and Renaissance styles. In 1865 he was instructed by the Aachen cathedral authorities to alter an early 16th century pax in the treasury to a clasp or morse. Apparently a dozen or so copies were made at that time one of which found its way into the hands of the collector and dealer Frédéric Spitzer (1815-1890), (S. Beissel, Gefälschte Kunstwerke, Freiburg-im-Bresgau, 1909, p. 86).

From this period on Vasters seems to have become increasingly wealthy and by 1880 was publicly exhibiting works of art from his own collection. In 1902 he exhibited 500 pieces in Dusseldorf. At the time of the exhibition it was observed that 'among the smaller private collections that of the Aachen goldsmith Reinhold Vasters offers a highly characteristic picture - throughout one notes the specialist and technician. Several decades of cooperation with the greatest genius among nineteenth-century collectors, Spitzer has had a distinct influence on the formation of the collection' (E. Renard, 'Die Kunsthistorische Ausstellung, Düsseldorf, 1902', Rheinlande: Monatschrift für deutsche Kunst, 1902 pp. 41-42)

Apart from the morse of 1865 mentioned above, the designs for the whole, or part, of at least twenty other pieces in the Spitzer collection, including this magnificent jewelled and enamelled gold-mounted agate bowl, are found among the Vasters drawings. Indeed Stephen Beissel writing in the year of Vaster's death observed that Spitzer had 'as is well known, employed for almost fifty years a series of first rate artists in Paris, Cologne and Aachen etc. who made him old things'. It is likely that the other artists referred to were Alfred Andre in Paris and Gabriel Hermeling in Cologne (see Christie's London, The Collection of the Late Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild, 14 December 2000 pp. 102-106, '19th Century "Renaissance" Works of Art: A question of supply and demand').
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