National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

Annual Bulletin 2, 1978-1979

Annual Index
Author & Subject

A Christianized and Neo-Classicized Roman tazza

by Philippe Verdier

Pages  1  |  2  |  3


1 Agate is a variety of quartz. See the comparison tables of various quartzes, in particular the respective colors and transparencies of agate, chalcedony, sardonyx and onyx in Hellmuth Bogel, A Collector's Guide to Minerals and Gemstones (translated from German) (Thames and Hudson, 1971), table 10, pp. 128-9.

2 The ocellated white specks of Indian onyx are described by Pliny: "cingentibus candidis venis oculi modo...albis cingentibus zonis singulis pluribusve." Natural History, XXXVII (24) par. 90.

3 Catalogue no. 1750, Age of Neoclassicism. There is an error in the description; the tazza is not made of cornelian.

4 Aline B. Saarinen, The Proud Possessors (1958), pp. 59-61; Germain Seligman, Merchants of Art (1961), pp. 69-77. According to information received from The Pierpoint Morgan Library, the tazza is found in a "very old list 'copied on August 23, 1915," which included PM 1026 as part of a group of objects from the Victoria and Albert Museum delivered to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. [The tazza] appears on the list as no. 478, 'onyx Tazza, with silver gilt mounts. German, 17th Century'." The Victoria and Albert Museum number, PM 1026, is painted in red. Labels with the above 478 as well as 36, N518, M75, and a shredded one are still glued to the underside of the tazza (see fig. 4).

5 "Planum ac patens" in Macrobius, Saturnalia V (21).

6 Charles Rohault de Fleury, La Messe: Études archéologiques, IV, pl. cclxxi, p. 138.

7 Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, XI, 494 f.

8 "Victoria illa Pompei primum ad margaritas gemmasque mores inclinavit," in Pliny, Natural History, XXXVII (6) par. 12.

9 Appian, Roman History, XII (17) par. 115.

10 Pliny, op. cit., par. 14.

11 Ibid., (5), par. 11.

12 Suetonius, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, II (71), par. 1.

13 M. Vollenweider, Die Steinschneidekunst und ihre Künstler in spätre-publikanischer Zeit und augusteicher Zeit, 1966. A fragment of a sardonyx tazza representing Augustus in profile was excavated in the Roman catacomb of St Agnes. It is in the Vatican Library. Luxury vases were extremely expensive. Nero paid a million sesterces for a capis (a single-handled vase) cut from a gem. Pliny, Natural History, (7) par. 20.

14 For example, numbers 139, 140, 142, 147-9 in the catalogue, Ancient Bronzes from the Estate of Greta S. Beckett. Antiquities from the Estate of Fahim Kouchakji; and Other Owners (Sotheby Parke Bernet Inc., 21 May 1977).

15 Hans-Peter Bühler, Antike Gefässe aus Edelsteinen, 1973, no. 55a, pl. 17, no.63, pl. 19. See also W. F. Volbach, in Il tesoro di San Marco, opera diretta da H. R. Hahnloser (1971), cat. no. 5, pl. iii; and for a derivitive simplified shape of such a characteristic handle, see the byzantine onyx vases, nos 42, 60, 91, pls xliv, lii, lxxi. See A. Morassi, Il tesoro dei Medici (1963), pl. 4 for a related sinuous shape of handle intended to be held vertically, adopted in the fourteenth century for vases shaped like tall mugs; e.g. two sardonyx vases in the Medici treasure. A sardonyx skyphos in the Pitti Palace keeps close to the earlier examples. See Bühler, op. cit. nos. 86-7, pl. 28.

16 C. H. Daremberg and E. Saglio, Dictionnaire des antiquités grecques et romaines (1873), Vol. 1/2, fig. 973, col. 802; E. Pernice and F. Winter, Der Hildesheimer Silberfund (1901), pl. 1;]. Sieveking, Antike Metallgeräte (1924), pls 10-12; D. E. Strong, Greek and Roman Gold and Silver Plate (1966), pl. 33b.

17 Bühler, op. cit., no. 83, pi. 27; Hermann Fillitz, Katalog der weltlichen und der geistlichen Schatzkammer (1968), no. 80. According to legend, the Vienna tazza was considered to have been the Holy Grail.

18 Bollettino di archeologia cristiana (1879), pls lx-x; Walter Lowrie, Art in the Early Church (1947), pl. 7Ob.

19 Fernand Cabral, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie (1907), 1/2, cols. 1994-8.

20 "Ego suffi vitis, vos palmites," John, 15:5. The connotation of eucharistic blood would later be added to the symbol of the Church. See Ildefonso of Toledo, Liber de ltinere deserti..., in Migne, Patrologia latina, 96, col. 179.

21 C. Rohault de Fleury, ibid., p. 155. The patens bore the "coranae oblationis" mentioned by Pope Zefirino (199-217), which one still sees on the ivory representing the concelebration of the Mass, in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Like the patera the paten is a, 'vas late patens": Walafrid Strabo, De rebus ecclesiasticis, in Migne, Patrologia latina, 114, col. 951. According to A. Darcel, the numerous offerings explain why the early patens were so big and heavy: see Annales archéologiques, XIX, p. 543. However, the offertorium commonly in use was a cist.

22 A Furtwängler, Die antiken Gemmen (1900; reprinted 1965), III, pp. 155-6, 339-40; W. Martin Conway, "The Abbey of Saint-Denis and its Ancient Treasures," Archaeologia (1915), Vol. LXVI, pp. 103-58; Blaise de Montesquiou-Fezensac, Le trésor de Saint-Denis, 3 vol. (1973-77); Anton Podlaha and E. Sittler, Der Domschatz (1903) Vol. I; Die Parler und der schöne Stil (Cologne, 1978), Vol. 3, p. 181, cf. p. 178.

23 W. Holzhausen, "Studien zum Schatz des Lorenzo il Magnifico," Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorisches Institutes in Florenz (1919-1932), Vol. 3, No.3, pp. 104-131.

24 P. E. Schramm, Kaiser Friedrich Il. Herrschaftzeichen, Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen, Phil-Hist. Klasse, 3 F 36, pp. 16ff.

25 Halls Jantzen, Ottonische Kunst (1959), p. 129; Percy Ernst Schramm and Florentine Mütherich, Denkmale der deutschen Könige und Kaiser (1962), No.137 , pp. 165-6.

26 F. Mütherich, Mittelalterliche Schatzverzeichnisse (1967), Vol. I.

27 Otto Lehmann-Brockhaus, Schriftquellen zur Kunstgeschichte des 11 und 12: Jahrhunderts für Deutschland, Lothringen und Italien (1938), No. 2815.

28 Klaus Wessel, Die Byzantinische Emailkunst (1967), No.15, pp. 67-8.

29 Paris, Archives Nationales, LL 92 fol. 5vo. Daniel Alcouffe, "Gemmes anciennes dans les collections de Charles V et de ses frères," Bulletin Monumental (1973), Vol. 131, No.1, p. 44, nn 1 & 5.

30 See The Arts under Napoleon, catalogue of the exhibition displayed in the Metropolitan Museum (New York, 1978). Introduction by Clare le Corbeiller; catalogue by James David Draper; No.160 (ewer and basin in silvergilt).

31 Ibid., nos. 115-16 (showing the renaissance of the tale of Psyche in neo-classical French art).

Top of this page

Home | Français | Introduction | History
Annual Index | Author & Subject | Credits | Contact

This digital collection was produced under contract to Canada's Digital Collections program, Industry Canada.

"Digital Collections Program, Copyright © National Gallery of Canada 2001"