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Enquiry from Online Galleries regarding "A Magnificent Imperial Egyptian Porphry Vase and Cover after a Design by Abbé Benedetti and Attributed to Silvio Calice"
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Look at what I found on the Online Galleries website!
One of these shows five vases of ornate shapes - typical of the Baroque in the middle of the seventeenth century - and of descending sizes and two further ones, including one of the present type, on its reverse (Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Cabinet des Estampes: Desseins de sept vazes de différentes formes de l’Abbé Benedetti - Malgouyres, p.138,
fig. 65; p. 140, fig.66). The only way of dating this sheet is thanks to the close similarity of three of the designs to those of some vases in the collection of the Doria-
Pamphilij Princes, which in turn are connected with payments in 1646 and 1647 to one Silvio Calice, a well-known specialist in working porphyry. This is fascinating, for – by extension - it indicates the name of the probable maker of the present vase too. His surname, which means ‘chalice’ or ‘cup’ in Italian, may even have been derived from some of his products – or those of his father or ancestors.
In the Eternal City there was a supply of porphyry from ancient Rome in the form of abandoned columns, etc., from collapsed edifices. All of this originated from the quarries of Gebel Dokhan in the Eastern Desert of Egypt, which were opened in the 1st century AD and worked until the 5th and was reserved for imperial use. The quaries were particularly exploited during the reigns of the Emperors Nero, Trajan, Hadrian and lastly Constantine who used the porphyry to build the first St Peter’s Basilica which was started in 316. These pillars were considered so special that the Renaissance Pope Paul II (1464 – 1471) is reported to have said that two of St Peter’s columns are worth more than the whole city of Venice. The porphyry was quarried and worked by convicts and slave labour, including many Early Christians, condemned for their belief. In the Renaissance, and especially during the ensuing Baroque period, the material was reworked by the stone-cutters (scarpellini) of Rome to suit the taste of their patrons, who wished to assimilate themselves with the prestigious culture of the ancient world.
See : Philippe de Malgouyres, Porphyre : La pierre pourpre des Ptolémées aux Bonaparte, exh. cat., Musée du Louvre, 2003-4, pp.140-41, no. 47. [For the stone, see Monica T. Price, Decorative Stone: The Complete Sourcebook, London, 2007, pp. 202-3].
|Height||42.00 cm||(16.54 inches)|
|Width||63.00 cm||(24.80 inches)|