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Post Lot Text
AN OVAL PARCEL-GILT GRISAILLE ENAMEL PLATTER DEPICTING THE MARRIAGE OF PSYCHE
BY JEAN COURT, THIRD QUARTER 16TH CENTURY
Depicting the gods and goddesses at a banquet table with three attendant winged nymphs in the background and Cupid in the foreground; with an outer border of grotesque masks, fantastical beasts and two portrait medallions; the reverse with two grotesque masks and two half-length figures with strapwork decoration and gilt stiff-leaf border; signed with the initials '.I.C.', minor wear and restorations
The story of Cupid and Psyche is a typical tale of gods and mortals and the difficulties they endure because of jealousy and desire. It recalls how Psyche, a mortal woman of surpassing beauty, is visited nightly by Cupid at his palace. He wants his identity to remain a secret and so demands that his lover never try to look at him or discover who he is. The sisters of Psyche, jealous of her happiness, tell her that it is rumoured she has married a monster so Psyche disobeys Cupid and lights a lamp to look at him one night as he sleeps. In doing so she lets a drop of oil fall onto him from the lamp and it wakens him. He leaves her and his palace vanishes. Desperate to regain his love, Psyche performs a number of seemingly impossible tasks for Venus, but it us only at the intervention of Jupiter that she is brought to heaven, made immortal and allowed to marry Cupid. The story is often treated as an allegorical tale of the search of the soul for love.
The central scene of the wedding banquet on the present platter is based upon an engraving by the Master of the Dé, from a series depicting episodes from the life of Psyche (Verdier, op. cit., p. 309). Four other platters with the same scene are known, all of them signed with the initials 'I C' for Jean Court: two in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, one in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, and one in the British Museum. The present example has a particularly distinguished provenance, having belonged both to the collectors baron Achille Seillière and John Edward Taylor, as well as the author Jean Davray.