A VENETIAN GLASS DIAMOND-ENGRAVED ARMORIAL EWER AND BASIN
A VENETIAN GLASS DIAMOND-ENGRAVED ARMORIAL EWER AND BASIN
A VENETIAN GLASS DIAMOND-ENGRAVED ARMORIAL EWER AND BASIN
A VENETIAN GLASS DIAMOND-ENGRAVED ARMORIAL EWER AND BASIN
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A VENETIAN GLASS DIAMOND-ENGRAVED ARMORIAL EWER AND BASIN

CIRCA 1690-91

Details
A VENETIAN GLASS DIAMOND-ENGRAVED ARMORIAL EWER AND BASIN
CIRCA 1690-91
The ewer engraved in diamond-point with the arms of Ferretti beneath a bishop's hat, a double-headed eagle flanked by putti holding coronets, two storks amongst numerous small birds in fight and with a spray of flowers to either side, the large basin engraved with four coats-of-arms, two beneath a double-headed eagle and two beneath a putto holding a coronet, and issuant with carnation-sprays and other flowering foliage.
The ewer 9 in. (23 cm.) high, the basin 16¾ in. (42.5 cm.) diameter
Provenance
Raimondo Ferretti (1650-1719), Bishop of Recanati-Loreto, later Archbishop of Ravenna.
Anonymous sale, Sotheby's London, 30 June 1980, lot 196.
An Important Collection of Venetian and Façon de Venise Glass, Christie's London, 28 March 2000, lot 70.
Private collection, France.
Literature
Erwin Baumgartner, Verre de Venise - Trésors inédits, exhibition catalogue, Musée Ariana, Geneva, 1995, pp. 112-113, no. 204.
Exhibited
Musée Ariana, Geneva, 17 May - 18 September 1995, no. 204.

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Katharine Cooke
Katharine Cooke

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Lot Essay

This exceptionally rare ewer and basin were made for Raimondo Ferretti (1650-1719), the Bishop of Recanati-Loreto, and later the Archbishop of Ravenna. While ewers and basins of this form (either undecorated or sparsely engraved), are recorded in the literature (1), the present lot would appear to be the only known example of an elaborately-engraved armorial ewer with its matching basin. Only a small number of other diamond-point engraved (2) armorial glass pieces are known to have survived (3), and it appears that none of these are of comparable significance in terms of size and complexity of decoration.

Raimondo Ferretti was born in Ancona, the son of Count Cesare Ferretti and the Marchioness Maddalena Silvestri. The Ferretti family had strong ecclesiastical connections, and over the centuries various members of the family rose to prominent positions in the church (4). Raimondi Ferretti was ordained in 1674 and between 1675 and 1682 was head of the literary academy, Anelanti, founded by his father. He became governor of the ecclesiastical province of Loreto in 1682 before being ordained Bishop of Recanati-Loreto on 10th July 1690. Two years later, on 9th January 1692, he became Archbishop of Ravenna under the pontificat of Pope Clement XI, a position he held until his death in 1719.

The present ewer and basin were probably presented to Ferretti on his ordination as a Bishop of Recanati-Loreto, and the ensemble may have served as an aquamanile on this occasion. The engraved coat-of-arms reflect his status as a bishop, providing an accurate terminus post quem and terminus ante quem for the decoration, which must have been executed between the summer of 1690 and the end of 1691, because the bishop’s hat, or galero, is engraved with six tasselled cords, or fiocchi, to each side. As Ferretti becameArchbishop of Ravenna in January 1692, this position would have been denoted by ten fiocchi to each side of the galero, rather than six.

Much as the Renaissance maiolicari made use of prints as inspiration for their decoration on maiolica a century earlier, glassmakers and other craftsmen drew inspiration from printed designs which were in circulation at the time. The diamond-point floral decoration is very much akin to 17th century lace and embroidered decoration. The scrolling foliate designs echo those which embroiderers wove with gold thread into chasubles, ecclesiastical robes or other draperies and textiles. Heraldic devices and references to the Ferretti family are also woven into the design of both pieces. The armorials are surmounted alternatively by a putto holding a count's coronet and an Imperial double-headed eagle, a reference to the privilege granted to the family by the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolph II (1552-1612), which allowed the Ferretti family to add the Imperial double-headed eagle to their arms (field argent with two bends gules).

There can be no doubt that the present ewer and basin were intended to reflect Raimondo Ferretti’s status. The elaborate decoration, the heraldic references, the galero representing his ecclesiastical position and the choice of Venetian glass itself, a highly expensive and sought-after medium, all point to an ensemble which was to created to reflect his status and wealth. The remarkable condition of the ewer and basin suggest sparing use. It is possible that the ensemble was used ceremonially in the Palazzo Mengoni-Ferretti in Ancona, probably for occasions that required sacred ablutions, or for baptisms.


(1). See the lobed basin illustrated by Anna-Elisabeth Theuerkauff-Liederwald, Venezianisches Glas der Veste Coburg, Lingen, 1994, p. 84, no. 25 and an engraved example illustrated by Frides and Kitty Laméris, Venetiaans & Façon de Venise Glass 1500-1700, Lochem, 1991, p. 87, no. 61.
(2). The technique of diamond-point engraving traces its origins from Roman times. It had all but disappeared in medieval Europe before it reappeared as a method of decorating glass in Venice from the 1530s. The technique is thought to have been reintroduced at Murano by master glass-maker, Vincenzo d'Angelo.
(3). These include a Venetian plate probably made to commemorate the marriage of Paolo Orsini and Isabella de Medici in 1558 in the Corning Museum of Glass, New York, museum no. 83.3.51.
(4). Most notably Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti (1792-1878), who became Pope Pius IX, the longest reigning elected Pope.

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