Hexagonal Bottle with Cover
second half of the 16th century
Object Place: Prague, Bohemia
31.8 x 11.7 x 8 cm (12 1/2 x 4 5/8 x 3 1/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Rock crystal with enameled and nielloed gold mounts
Alyce Morrissey Gallery (Kunstkammer) (Gallery 143)
The panels of this hexagonal bottle are engraved with the Gods of Jupiter, Venus, Apollo, Diana, Mars, and Mercury, surrounded by scrollwork with harpies dragons, dolphins and winged satyrs. The gold mounts are delicately embellished with champlevé enamels. The decoration of this piece is characteristic of the highly sophisticated Kunstkammer objects produced by the Milanese workshop of the Miseroni, who specialized in rockcrystal engravings and worked for the Imperial Court at Prague under Rudolph II and Ferdinand III.
In the sixteenth century, Milan emerged as the leading center for carving and engraving rock crystal, an extremely hard and colorless variety of quartz. This bottle is engraved on all sides with airy, symmetrical decorations inspired by ancient Roman fresco painting. The oval cartouches at the center frame figures who represent heavenly bodies: Apollo (the sun), Diana (the moon), Venus, Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter.
Until 1970, Arturo Lopez-Willshaw; October 13, 1970, Lopez-Willshaw Sale, Sotheby & Co., London, lot 30, sold to Mr. John Goelet, New York; 1978, gift of Goelet to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 18, 1978)
Gift of John Goelet in memory of Walter Muir Whitehill