MASTERPIECE LONDON 2018
Bassano family Workshop
A Very Important Roman Gilt-Bronze semi-precious stones mounted Holy Water Stoup, Rome, centred by an oval lapis lazuli oil painted plaque showing “The Adoration of the Magi”, Bassano family Workshop, within double jasper rectangular frames with cherubs, , c. 1600
Gilt-Bronze, semi-precious stones, centred by an oval lapis lazuli oil painted plaque within double jasper rectangular frames bronze scrollwork surmounted by blessing God.
Height: 57 cm / 22.5 in.
Width: 41 cm / 16 in.
Width: 41 cm / 16 in.
Literature•Lapislazzuli Magia del Blu diM. Sframeli, Conticelli, Gennaioli, Parodi; SillabeEditore 2015; pp.111-120; 242; 343.Comparative examples:•Loyola University Museum of Art; Chicago, Martin D’arcy Collection, TheAdoration of the Magi, ca. 1565, Jacopo da Ponte Bassano, Italian (Venice), Oil onVerona marble laid on slate, Gift of the Friends of Fr. Donald Rowe, S.J., 1991-02 .•Giuliani Collection, Milano, Adoration of the Magi, second Half XVI Century,after Jacopo da Bassano.•Christie.s, Important old master paintings, 22 Jenuary 2002, New York, Lot.31.
The lapis recounts an important event surrounding the birth of Christ, the Adoration of the Magi. The figures are highly elegant, graceful, and peculiarly elongated. Bassano has portrayed his Magi in their traditionally elegant and exotic garb. Commanded by Herod, the Magi followed a star from the East to seek the purported New King of the Jews. The star led the Magi to Bethlehem, where they found the Christ Child. With his back to the viewer and having removed his crown, Caspar, the oldest Magi, kneels before the infant Jesus. Caspar wears a resplendent gold robe trimmed with ermine, a fur reserved for royalty. In the centre, in profile, is turbaned King Balthasar. To his left, standing and facing the viewer, is the youngest of the Magi, Melchior. According to legend, the Magi brought gifts of gold, symbolizing Christ's kingship; frankincense, referring to His divinity; and myrrh, foreshadowing Christ's crucifixion, as myrrh was used in embalming. Holy (that is, blessed) Water is used in the Catholic Church in remembrance of the sacrament of Baptism, and for the apotropaic qualities (the power to ward off evil) ascribed to it. Bronze Holy Water stoups, such as the one on view here, were extremely precious and were traditionally used in private homes. The glistening surface of the gold bronze echoes and boosts the water’s reflective quality. It evokes an impression of dancing light and of purity, which is in line with the cleansing and apotropaic property attributed to the Holy Water. Lapis Lazuli is one of the most sought after stones in use since man's history began. Its deep, celestial blue remains the symbol of royalty and honour, gods and power, spirit and vision. It is a universal symbol of wisdom and truth. During the 16th and 17th centuries the painting on lapis lazuli was the subject of valuable diplomatic gifts. The elaboration of works on lapis lazuli has been used to enhance the reputation of the customer and underline its political role. It is by no means incidental that his presence in the major Italian collections and that of the Borghese family gives us a good example. The artwork described above is subject to changes in availability and price without prior notice. Where applicable ARR will be added.