Oeuvre

A PRECIOUS ENAMELLED GOLD MOUNTED AGATE CUP ON FOOT


PRAGUE, circa 1605

Attributed to Ottavio MISERONI (Milan 1567 – Prague 1624)
The mounts attributed to Jan VERMEYEN (Brussels 1559 – Prague 1606)

Height: 8.9 cm (3 ½ in.)
Diameter: 6.2 cm (2 ½ in.)

Provenance : - William Thomas Beckford (1760-1844), Fonthill Abbey,
his sale 16th October 1823, lot 1060
- Baron Anselm von Rothschild (1803-1874), Vienna

Literature: Schestag (Franz), Katalog der Kunstsammlung des Freiherrn Anselm von Rothschild in Wien, Vienne, 1866, n° 350, ill.

The beautiful stone cutting of highly polished radiating gadroons against a matted ground is highly unusual. A cup with almost identical carving, which was clearly made by the same hand, is preserved in Burghley House and belonged to Elizabeth, 3rd countess of Devonshire (1619-1689). This cup was mentioned in the estate inventory drawn up in 1690. The mounts are different but show the same particular type of two level openwork foot mounts.

In the early 19th century the present cup belonged to the famous collector William T. Beckford and was described in his sale of Fonthill Abbey in 1823. The cup still had its cover and is identifiable by its feet, which are in the shape of turtles.

The style of the mounts is characteristic of the production of Emperor Rudolph II’s goldsmith Jan Vermeyen, especially in the continuous row of rubies and the friezes of birds, insects, and amphibians made of translucent enamel. These can also be found on the table clock made for the Emperor in 1606 by Martin Schneeberger and mounted by the goldsmith (KHM n° 1148).