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Post Lot Text
A PARCEL-GILT GRISAILLE OVAL ENAMEL DISH DEPICTING THE JUDGEMENT OF MOSES
ATTRIBUTED TO PIERRE REYMOND, CIRCA 1570-1575
With Moses seated on a throne to the right inscribed in red ':MOISE.', surrounded by further figures all in an idealised landscape, inscribed in red at bottom centre 'EXODE XVIII' and with an outer border of grotesque winged figures with foliate scrolls, with a coat of arms of the family Chaspoux de Verneuil to the top; the reverse with a figure of Juno and her peacock to the centre contained within a stylised canopy, laurel branches, strapwork, baskets of fruit and grotesque animals, with an outer border of male masks and foliate scrolls; minor chips, firing cracks, areas of the gilding refreshed
The central scene of this platter depicts part of the history of Moses, from the book of Exodus. The story relates how Moses would sit in judgement, settling disputes between the Israelites he had brought out of Egypt. When his father-in-law, Jethro came to visit Moses and saw what he was doing Jethro reprimanded him. He said that the strain of such work would be too much for Moses, and that he should appoint trustworthy men to preside over segments of the population and settle all the simple disputes, with only the difficult cases coming to Moses himself.
The depiction here is an interesting study in the way a compositional source has been adapted - in this case not altogether successfully - to fit a new scene. The scene is based on an engraving of Parmagianino's Martyrdom of SS Peter and Paul. The saints have been removed and replaced with a seated female figure, possibly meant to represent Moses' wife. However, instead of sitting in an encampment as they continued their journey to the Promised Land, Moses sits in an elaborate classical architectural setting more reminiscent of the backdrop of Rome in the scene of the Martyrdom. Furthermore, he is not depicted as a patriarchal figure with flowing beard, but more like the youthful Roman judge of the engraving. It would seem that the artist was aware of the confusion such a young figure might cause because he felt compelled to identify Moses explicitly with a label beneath his throne.
The present platter, attributed to one of the most famous and prolific of the Limoges enamellers, is one of seven pieces in this collection which bear the coat-of-arms of the Chaspoux de Verneuil family. Like other noble or prosperous bourgeois families, it would seem that the Chaspoux de Verneuil, who originated in Touraine and Brittany, commissioned a large service from Limoges, elements of which are now dispersed throughout museums and private collections around the world. The attribution to Pierre Reymond and his workshop is based on stylistic grounds but also on a candlestick from the service, signed with the initials 'PR' and dated 1577 in the Abegg Foundation, Bern-Riggisberg (Descheemaeker, op. cit., p. 26).