Inkstand Surmounted by a Horse

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Italian School
16th cent.
Bronze.
AZ059.1.a: 2 3/4 x 7 1/2 inches (70 x 190 mm); AZ059.1.b: 4 7/8 x 7 1/8 inches (125 x 180 mm); total: 7 7/8 inches (200 mm); AZ059.2: 1 5/8 x 3 1/8 x 10 1/4 inches (40 x 80 x 260 mm)
Acquired by J. Pierpont Morgan before 1909.
AZ059
Provenance: 
Acquired by J. Pierpont Morgan before 1909.
Notes: 

AZ059.1.a (inkstand) AZ059.1.b (lid); AZ059.2 (pen holder)
The sphinxes supporting the base of this inkstand are also found on a candlestick base in the Lehman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1975.1.1379) and a tripod candlestick base sold at Christie's, London, 7 December 2006, lot 180 (from the Alfred Beit Foundation). Both works have been loosely associated with Venetian foundries in the late 16th or early 17th century, and have similarities with objects produced in the workshop of Nicolò Roccatagliata. The sphinxes are also similar to those found on objects cast by Joseph de Levis.

Summary: 

Inkstand and lid with handle in the shape of a horse. The four feet supporting the base of the inkstand are comprised of winged harpies or sphinxes; each side of the base contains an armorial shield. These shields bear the arms of the Venetian families Mocenigo; Celci; Nani-Mocenigo; and Querini. The cover is decorated with bands of masques and garlands, surmounted by eagles with wings spread that have been attached. The handle on the lid is formed by a rearing horse whose front hooves rest on a shield bearing a difficult to decipher stemma, perhaps the arms of the Querini family.

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