Antonio Cortelazzo Damascened Jewelry Casket from Great London Exposition of 1872
Our gold damascened Renaissance Revival table casket or jewelry chest by Antonio Cortelazzo (Italian, 1819-1903), is marked Vicenza and dated 1870. 8.25 x 8.25 x 6 in; 21 x 21 x 15 cm.
It features a pair of adorsed dragons supporting the arms of Sir William Drake, repoussé trophies and gold-ground scrollwork and is raised on scroll and mask feet. The lid is signed CORTELAZZO VICENZA FECIT 1870.
• International Exhibition of 1872, London.
• The Collection of Sir William Richard Drake, F.S.A., The Property of Sir William Drake F.S.A., Christie's, London, June 30 - July 3, 1891, lot 602, 33 GBP.
• The Collection of M.F. Adie Esq, purchased circa 1950 from H.W. Keil Ltd, Broadway Worcs.,
• Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, 27 May 2004, lot 77.
• The Collector: English & European 18th & 19th Century Furniture, Ceramics, Silver & Works of Art, Christie's, New York, May 7, 2020, lot 235, $47,500.
Below please see the lot essay from the Christie's sale on May 7, 2020.
• The Official Catalogue, Fine Arts Department London, International Exhibition of 1872, London, J.M. Johnson & Sons (Victoria and Albert Museum reference A23 (21), p. 93 no. 2712.
• The Art Journal, London, 1872, p.2.
• Nineteenth Century Silver, J. Culme, London, 1977, p. 17.
• 'The Layards, Cortelazzo and Castellani: new information from the diaries of Lady Layard', Jewellery Studies I, J. Rudoe, 1983. p. 86.
• 'A Renaissance-Revival Masterpiece by Antonio Cortelazz'o, B. Shifman, Cleveland Studies in the History of Art, vol. 8, p.103, fig. 17.
Much like his contemporary, Alfred Morrison, whose patronage almost exclusively supported the work of the celebrated damascener Placido Zuloaga, Sir William Drake, a wealthy lawyer and prodigious collector, acquired numerous objects by the Italian artist, Antonio Cortelazzo. Drake was a client of the dealer, William Blundell Spence, who additionally supplied works by the accomplished Florentine sculptor Luigi Frullini (d.1897), English art potters, the Martin brothers, as well as works by Zuloaga. Drake, however, found Zuloaga's work "more mechanical and much less artistic than the productions of Cortelazzo" (Rudoe note 29. British Library Add. MSS 38997, f.245).
His affinity for Cortelazzo's oeuvre compelled Drake to exhibit the present casket, as well as an ewer and basin now in the Indianapolis Museum of Art, in the artist's stand at the 1872 London International Exhibition to resounding acclaim: "In the mechanical skill with which he inlays metal upon metal he has his rivals; but in the combination of that process with purity of design and artistic fancy of ornament which distinguishes all his works, he stands unrivalled....the `Coffre' is in intarsia of gold and silver (partly flat and in other parts relief) on steel." (The Art Journal, London, 1872, p. 2).
A related casket almost certainly made for Sir William Spottiswoode (1825-83) is illustrated in J. Lavin, The Art and Tradition of the Zuloagas, Spanish Damascene from the Khalili Collection, 1997, no. 100.