Two Jewellers at the Grand Ducal Court of Florence around 1618
Kirsten Aschengreen Piacenti
The problem of associating known jeweis or mounts with schools or specific artists is extremely complex. Attributions based on stylistic evidence alone must be considered unsafe. The same pattern books were used all over Europe, works of art were exported, and the artists themselves travelled from court to court bringing with them the traditions of their original training but also open to the impulses of their new homes. Documents alone may provide us with firm and unrefutable landmarks, and
... earch in the State Archive of Florence has proved particularly rewarding in this respect. The Medici collection of works of art and of do cuments related to them is peculiarly well-preserved, and in the following a few results will be presented concerning two outstanding pieces in the Museo degli Argenti in Florence. At the same time some light is thrown on the complex workings of the grand ducal workshops in the early iyth Century. The two objects in question are the large rock crystal vase (fig. i) and the well-known pietre dure relief of Cosimo II Praying (fig. 4 ). Both were executed for Cosimo II and at the same time, but they are so different in character that their stories will have to be told severally. The vase was published by Kris 1 who rightly considered it executed in Florence but dated it around 1583 on account of the dated Buontalenti vase of that year.2 It can now be established that it was finished in 1618 by Odoardo Vallet, a French jeweller working for the grand ducal court of Florence. Cut to a simple shape of clear and smooth surface 3 it is in fact totally different from the usual i6th Century type of vase, and also the large and rather heavy design of the mount differs from documented examples of Milanese 4 and German jewellery.5 The bowl is urn-like and oval in section, of a different piece of crystal from the foot to which it is joined by a gold enamelled * Talk delivered on April 6th 1963 at the Kunsthistorisches Institut, Florence ("Un vaso di cristallo nel Museo degli Argenti"). Research for this study, which is part of a wider project concerning the grand ducal workshops in the early iyth Century, was carried out with the financial aid of the Consiglio Nazionale di Ricerche.