about 1560–70

Object Place: Europe, England or Germany


H. 24.5 cm (9 5/8 in.); W. 14.9 cm (5 7/8 in.) Diameter (of foot) 12.1 cm (4 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Marble with silver-gilt mounts

On View

Alyce Morrissey Gallery (Kunstkammer) (Gallery 143)





The cylindrical body of the flagon is of highly polished gray marble with dark red, brown, and green inclusions. It rests on a molded silver-gilt foot embossed with strapwork and engraved on the rim with a reeded pattern. The rim of the flagon is mounted with a broad band of embossed strapwork with clusters of fruit. Immediately below is a narrow molded band chased with strapwork; two identical bands are applied to the rim of the domed cover and to the base of the flagon, serving as an attachment for the base of the handle. The handle is ear shaped with a scrolled terminus decorated with a mask and a lion’s foot. The spine of the handle is engraved with a scrolling vine, and the thumbpiece is cast in the form of two profile masks within addorsed scrolls. The baluster finial rests on a domed collar that is embossed with clusters of fruit; the interior fitting for the finial is in the form of an embossed rose. The stone vessel is turned from a single piece of marble. The domed silver foot is raised, joined to several molded wires, and fixed to the marble body with a serrated bezel. The two bands at the bottom and top of the body of the vessel are formed and secured with a hinge attachment behind the handle. The upper part of the handle is formed and assembled; the terminus, thumbpiece, and finial are cast. The collar at the top of the vessel and the rim on the cover are embossed; the latter is attached to the marble with a serrated bezel.

The colorful aggregate stone that forms the body of this flagon may be an ancient fragment of “Africano” marble associated with the quarries at Teos in Turkey. During the first and second centuries, it was exported to Rome and used as an ornamental stone. During the Renaissance, fragments were excavated, recut, repurposed, and embellished with silver and gold mounts.


Until about 1852 or later, Torkington collection, Great Stukeley Hall, Huntingdon, England [see note 1]. June 13, 1907, anonymous sale ("property of a gentleman"), Christie's, London, lot 66, to Foster for £480. Between 1907 and 1911, acquired by Montagu Samuel, 1st Baron Swaythling (b. 1832 - d. 1911), London; May 6, 1924, posthumous Swaythling sale, Christie's, London, lot 124, to Crichton Brothers, London; May 30, 1924, sold by Crichton to William Randolph Hearst (b. 1863 - d. 1951), New York; July 28, 1944, sold by Hearst to the Brummer Gallery, New York (stock no. N6020); April 22, 1949, Brummer sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, lot 453, to the MFA for $1,700. (Accession Date: May 12, 1949)

[1] An undated note in the curatorial file from Captain Charles Torkington (b. 1847 - d. 1919) states that "it has been in my family for a great number of years. It was removed from Great Stukeley Hall, Huntingdon about the year 1852 by my mother when the house was dismantled." It is not known whether it left the family's possession at that time.

Credit Line

Theodora Wilbour Fund in memory of Charlotte Beebe Wilbour