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A SILVER-GILT FRAMED CARVED IVORY RELIEF OF THE HOLY TRINITY
Prospective purchasers are advised that several co… Read more THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN 
A SILVER-GILT FRAMED CARVED IVORY RELIEF OF THE HOLY TRINITY

THE IVORY SOUTH GERMAN, LATE 16TH OR EARLY 17TH CENTURY, THE SILVER-GILT CASE AND STAND MEXICAN, FIRST QUARTER 17TH CENTURY AND LATER

Details
A SILVER-GILT FRAMED CARVED IVORY RELIEF OF THE HOLY TRINITY
THE IVORY SOUTH GERMAN, LATE 16TH OR EARLY 17TH CENTURY, THE SILVER-GILT CASE AND STAND MEXICAN, FIRST QUARTER 17TH CENTURY AND LATER
The ivory relief depicting Christ and God the Father seated on stylised clouds, the Holy Spirit above, interspersed with winged cherub heads and with two angels bearing instruments of the Passion; laid on a red velvet ground and set under glass within a large silver-gilt case on stand; the associated case with later additions; the reverse of the case with an elaborate foliate-decorated hinged door inscribed 'ET IN HIS OMNIBUS SENSUM MATRIS.ECCLESIOE SEQUIMUR CUJUS ETIAM JUDICIUM REVEREMUR'
10 in. (25.4 cm.) high, the ivory; 39½ in. (100.4 cm.) high, overall
Provenance
Acquired by the father of the present owner in the 1970s and by descent.
Literature
COMPARATIVE LITERATURE:
Augsburg, Rathaus, Welt in Umbruch - Augsburg zwischen Renaissance und Barock Band II: Rathaus, 28 Jun. - 28 Sept. 1980.
Frankfurt am Main, Liebieghaus Museum alter Plastik, Dürers Verwandlung in der Skulptur zwischen Renaissance und Barock, 1 Nov. 1981-17 Jan. 1982.
Madrid, Museo de America, Orfebreria Hispanoamericana Siglos XVI-XIX, December, 1986.
Houston, Delaware and San Diego, The Museum of Fine Arts, The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, The San Diego Museum of Art, The Grandeur of Viceregal Mexico: Treasures from the Museo Franz Mayer, 24. Mar 2002 - 25 May 2003.
D. Diemer, Hubert Gerhard und Carlo di Cesare del Palagio - Bronzeplastiker der Spätrenaissance, II, Berlin, 2004.
Special Notice

Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.

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Lot Essay

The combination of the incredibly refined and virtuoso ivory carving with the imposing architectural silversmith-work on the case and stand offered here represents a tour de force of contemporaneous craftsmanship across two continents: Europe and the Americas and, more specifically, Germany and Mexico respectively.

The ivory relief depicting the Holy Trinity with attendant angels bearing the Cross, Crown of Thorns, Ladder and Spear is a complex composition displaying the artist's skill at rendering varying depths of field. It also demonstrates his skill at executing incredibly fine details such as the individually carved fingers and varying textures of drapery from the rippling chemises of the angels to the heavy robes of Christ and God the Father. Stylistic parallels can be found in a number of European centres of production in circa 1600, however it is in south Germany that one finds the most compelling stylistic comparisons for this ivory. Among the best is Hans Morinck's late 16th century limestone relief of the same subject - albeit in a different configuration - in the Badisches Landesmuseum, Karlsruhe (Frankfurt, op. cit., no. 176). In this relief Morinck demonstrates a comparable attention to Christ's well-defined musculature, mannered proportions and facial features, with his long oval face, elegant nose and long locks of hair that sweep over his ear. Similar attention is also paid to other details such as God the Father's long flowing beard, the treatment of the incredibly delicate fingers, the rendering of the stylised clouds and the cherubim.

Parallels can also be found with the angels on the present relief and Hubert Gerhard's Weihbrunnenengel in the church of St Michael, Munich, dating from 1593-6 (Diemer, op. cit., pl. 174). The similarities here are compelling: the oval faces with prominent noses and curly, shoulder-length hair and distinctive quiff, the long flowing and deeply folded drapes, the virtually identical wings and elongated, elegant proportions. Indeed these - and other - stylistically comparable elements can be seen throughout Gerhard's oeuvre, such as in his slightly earlier terracotta angels bearing instruments of the Passion in the same church, the head of Christ from the 1593 group of the Virgin and Child in the Marienplatz, Munich which is referenced in the cherubim and, furthermore, in the circa 1584-7 Rivergod in the Residenz, Munich (ibid., pls. 87-91, 169-171 and 111b respectively) which relates very closely to the head of God the Father.

It is highly likely that this ivory's composition was based upon an engraving or print though one has yet to be identified. However, the ivory's links to south Germany are further strenghtened by its similarities to an engraving of the Holy Trinity dating from 1619 by the Augsburg-based engraver Paul Göttich, an example of which is in the Kupferstichkabinett, Veste Coburg (Welt in Umbruch, op. cit., no. 624). Again the stylistic language points to a south German origin: the similarly styled clouds and cherubim, the deeply modelled Italianate drapery, God the Father's forked and long flowing beard and the angel's large quiffs. A compelling argument can therefore be made for the creation of this ivory in the artistic milieu of south Germany, and most likely Munich, where a long tradition for the carving of ivories exists.

The silver-gilt case and stand housing the ivory relief are, according to Cristina Esteras Martín, a typical product of Mexican silver-smith work in the second quarter of the 17th century. It is likely that they were not originally conceived to house the ivory relief and may instead have been converted into its present form from a monstrance. Esteras Martin's attribution of the stand to a workshop in New Spain in the 17th century is corroborated by its relationship with, for example, the silver-gilt monstrance in the Church of Santa Maria, Busturia (Madrid, op. cit., no. 9). Both share the same strong architectural facade with a pediment above a rectangular opening flanked by ornately decorated columns and surmounted by finials in the form of decorative urns. Interestingly, the present case - as with the Busturia monstrance - also has small, elaborately decorated, conical feet to its underside which, when the case and stand are separated, allow the former to be displayed as a totally free-standing object. Both cases also sit on very similar elaborately modelled and chased circular stands decorated with cherubim masks and c-scrolls adorning the knops. These stands can be seen throughout Spanish and Spanish-colonial silverware, though the restrained silhouette of the form juxtaposed with the elaborate engraving and punching on the surface point to Mexican 17th century types, such as the monstrance in the local church of Higuera la Real, Badajoz dating from the mid-17th century (ibid., no. 10) and the candlesticks in the Franz Mayer Museum, Mexico City, dating from circa 1673-7 also cast and finished in Mexico City. The latter are particularly interesting for the very similarly styled and finished claw-and -ball feet with leafy crests which Esteras Martín indicates are characteristic elements of this school (Houston, op. cit., no. 84).

The Mexican facture of the case and stand along with its relatively early dating (merely 100 years after the Spanish Conquest of 1521) when combined with an almost contemporaneous ivory carving represents an unusual juxtaposition of styles. While the probability is that one element was not originally conceived to be displayed with the other, it is interesting to think how objects of devotion might have travelled across continents in the 17th century and what impact they would have had on the cultures that were viewing them for the very first time.

We are grateful to Dra. Cristina Esteras Martín for her assistance in the preparation of this note.

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