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: An Aldobrandini Tazza: A Preliminary Study


D. McFadden



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Relatively few examples of the goldsmith's art of the sixteenth century have survived the mass destruction of precious metals which accompanied numerous wars, economic reversals, and alterations in the taste of silver- and goldsmith's patrons during the centuries which followed the period of the Renaissance. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts has been fortunate to acquire for its nascent collection of Renaissance decorative arts a superb sixteenth-century Italian silver-gilt Tazza,1 which is now exhibited along with important examples of Northern Renaissance designs of contemporary date. This important Italian addition to the collection illustrates the diversity and similarities of designs produced by virtuoso goldsmiths throughout Europe during a century of opulence in the decorative arts. With the well-known Ostrich Egg Cup of 1594 by Hans Petzoldt of Nuremberg,2 and the Salt which bears the mark of the late-sixteenth-century English master “Eston” of Exeter,3 this tazza extends the breadth of the Minneapolis collections and fills an important stylistic and regional lacuna in the museum's sixteenth-century holdings. The tazza also invites comparison between the design vocabularies current in three major centers of Renaissance metalworking. In addition to this valuable didactic function, the tazza stands as a singularly beautiful and significant object in its own right; associated with its inherent quality and beauty is a richness of acquired meaning: the tazza was once an integral member of a service of twelve tazzas owned by the illustrious Aldobrandini family during the latter part of the sixteenth century. This magnificent service, once an impressive monument to the wealth and taste of its owners, has since been dispersed throughout Europe and America; representative members now exist both in public museums and private collections. It is with appropriate pride that this tazza, maintained in private collections until its recent acquisition by The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, is now on public view.The tazza (figure 1) is made up of five major separable components. The circular convex foot is conservatively ornamented with lobed gadroons within delicately matted channels. A gently curved, fluted central stem rises from the foot and supports a vase-shaped baluster shaft; the shaft is ornamented similarly to the foot, with flutes and gadroons which reiterate the outline of the shaft. A separate, thin plate, visible only when the tazza is upturned, is ornamented with an encircling guilloche band; this small disk effectively supports the weight of the large bowl. The concave bowl of the tazza is provided with an outer rim of embossed chain-scale devices. The central area of the bowl is divided into quadrants (figure 2) by embossed fluted columns which taper toward their bases, thus lending an ambiguous sense of depth to the complex pictorial and narrative images which fill each quadrant (figures 3, 4, 5, 6). From the center of the tazza, encircled by a guilloche band identical to that of the support disk below the bowl, rises a lobed pedestal which continues the motifs of the foot and stem. Upon this pedestal stands a superbly modeled and chased figure dressed in Roman imperial costume (figure 7). Costume details include elaborate armor, cuirass and girdle, boots, and a cloak (figure 8), delicately chased to simulate a fine floral damask, attached to the shoulders of the figure with large separable clasps. Engraved at the feet of the figure is the name “AUGUSTUS,” the second of the Caesars, born in 63 B.C., died in A.D. 14, his reign extending from 27 B.C. until his death.The tazza bears no marks which indicate its maker or country of origin, although it has been stamped in various places with later nineteenth-century import and control marks.4 That these marks should appear on a sixteenth-century object is not surprising, for the tazzas have traveled across Europe in numerous collections, both together and individually, since they were owned by the Aldobrandini family, a history which will be examined in greater detail below. Aside from the obvious stylistic characteristics, the sixteenth-century origin of the tazza is confirmed by a pricked coat-of-arms on the underside of the bowl (figure 9). The arms are those of the Aldobrandini family and are placed below an ecclesiastical hat, from which are suspended twelve tassels, six to a side. It is held that the arms, as depicted, belonged to Ippolito Aldobrandini, who was appointed Cardinal in 1585, and subsequently elected Pope in 1592, at which time he assumed the name of Clement VIII5 (figure 10). It is believed that the tazzas were acquired by Ippolito Aldobrandini prior to his accession as pope, as the ecclesiastical devices suggest.The service of twelve tazzas associated with Ippolito Aldobrandini depicted the first twelve Caesars, the central figure of each emperor originally combined with scenes in the quadrants of the bowl which narrated important events of the emperor's life. The episodes selected for each tazza were presumably based on the account of the twelve Caesars rendered by the Roman historian Suetonius Tranquillus (A.D. 98-138), whose Lives of the Twelve Caesars was written during the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian. The biographies of the founders of Imperial Rome were revived and published during the early Renaissance and rapidly became an indispensable volume in the libraries of Renaissance humanists, historians, and intellectuals. After the first edition of Suetonius in 1470, numerous other published translations appeared; the Lives provided inspiration for numerous engravings, medals, and products of the goldsmith's workshops for educated and sophisticated patrons familiar with the literary source.6Suetonius's Lives contains detailed biographical and historical information pertinent to the reigns of the twelve emperors, from Julius Caesar (who became dictator in 44 B.C.) through that of Domitian (died A.D. 96). Both of these emperors are represented on tazzas now on public view: the Julius Caesar figure and bowl are located in the Museo Lazaro Galdeano, Madrid, and the Domitian figure and bowl are in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.7 Other emperor tazzas include the bowl of Augustus, now combined with the figure of Nero in the Wernher Collection, Luton Hoo, England; the Otho bowl and figure in the Lee Collection, The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada; the Vitellius bowl and figure in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Titus figure, now combined with a later cast of the Titus bowl, also in the Wernher Collection, Luton Hoo; the Caligula figure in a private collection in the United Kingdom, now combined with the bowl representing the life of the emperor Galba; and, finally, the Minneapolis tazza, in which the Augustus figure is combined with the bowl which follows Suetonius's description of events in the life of Caligula.8Unfortunately, several bowls and figures are, at present, unlocated, including the bowl and figure of Tiberius, the Claudius figure and bowl, the Nero bowl, and the figure of Galba. The Vespasian figure and bowl were in the J. Pierpont Morgan collection, New York, although their present whereabouts is unknown.The history of the confusing interchange of bowl and figures, as well as the problem of certain structural modifications which have occurred in several instances, has been clarified by the research of John Hayward,9 whose important publication of the Aldobrandini service has been indispensable for the present preliminary study of the Minneapolis tazza. Hayward convincingly posits that it is unlikely that the service of twelve tazzas was actually commissioned by Ippolito Aldobrandini, since the simple pricked coat-of-arms on each example studied is relegated to a position of relative unimportance in the design of the bowls. This practice would not seem consistent with a commission of such magnitude, and the arms are thus to be viewed as indications of ownership, and were probably not part of the original commission to the goldsmith responsible for their production. Whether the tazzas were given to Ippolito Aldobrandini, or acquired by other means, the entire set of twelve is known to have subsequently passed to Prince Giovanni Battista Pamphili with the Aldobrandini inheritance; the service was recorded in an inventory of the Pamphili possessions on March 2, 1710. The pertinent entry in the inventory has been published by John Hayward.10 The tazzas do not reappear in subsequent documents hitherto discovered until a century and a half later, when they were sold as the property of Charles Scarisbrick of Scarisbrick Hall, Lancashire, on May 15, 1861. The auction catalogue which accompanied this sale describes the tazzas in the following manner:
The celebrated Aldobrandini Caesar Tazzas, of very elegant form; the dishes, each with four minute subjects of Roman history, embossed; the stems and feet fluted; each tazza is surmounted by a beautiful figure of a Roman Emperor: attributed to Cellini.In the center of each salver is the figure of one of the Twelve Caesars, and on the borders are representations of four of the most celebrated actions of the same. The whole is executed in silver with extraordinary care and finish. They belonged originally to the celebrated Cardinal Aldobrandini. . . .11
Hayward notes that the tazzas again surfaced in 1891; six of them were described and two illustrated in the catalogue of the Paris dealer Frédéric Spitzer.12 Also mentioned in this catalogue is a manuscript volume, since lost, which contained a description of the service, the binding of which bore the Aldobrandini arms. A major discovery was made by Hayward in the comparison of the sale catalogues of 1861 and 1891: the 1891 catalogue included a description of elaborate stems and feet for six of the tazzas, “. . . decorated with brackets pierced with open-work volutes, with horned masks and bunches of fruit. On the base, in two concentric borders, are masks of cherubs and draperies, male busts in medallions separated by masks and trophies of arms.”13 The 1861 catalogue of the Scarisbrick sale had described the stems and feet of the twelve tazzas as simply “fluted”; from this discrepancy Hayward concludes, rightly, that the tazzas described in the Spitzer catalogue (namely, Julius Caesar, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian) were altered after the 1861 sale by the substitution of more elaborate stems and feet for the original fluted ones. The substituted feet and stems were, according to Hayward, most likely removed from contemporary sixteenth-century Spanish monstrances and attached to the tazzas by Spitzer to increase their saleability and appeal.14 Ostensibly, the figures and bowls could have been mismatched at this time. A cooperative action on the part of three museums that had acquired tazzas owned by Spitzer has restored the figures to their proper bowls.15 The presumably original fluted feet and stems, the style of which is consistent with the conservative and elegant details of the pedestals which support the figures, thus exist on only three known tazzas: the Luton Hoo tazza of Titus, in which the original feet, stem, and figure have been combined with a cast of the original bowl; the Caligula figure combined with the Galba bowl, located in a private collection in the United Kingdom; and the Minneapolis tazza, comprised of the original foot and stem, the Augustus figure and the Caligula bowl. The Minneapolis tazza is, consequently, the only tazza in a public, rather than private, collection which is composed of all three original components, despite the transposed figure and bowl.Each of the four narrative scenes within the bowl of the Minneapolis tazza merits close examination; of particular interest is the adaptation of the literary text of Suetonius16 to a pictorial format.The first quadrant of the bowl (figure 3) is filled with a landscape, apparently located outside a city, the houses and other buildings of which are visible at the extreme edges of the scene. In the background, situated upon a sharp cliff, is a fortified residence. The foreground of the scene includes soldiers with raised swords running across a field toward a burning temple. Amidst the soldiers run terrified figures of men, women, and children; since there are no clearly indicated enemies in conflict with the troops, it is probable that the scene depicts a civil or social disturbance rather than a war or battle in a campaign. The event as narrated in the tazza undoubtedly refers to the life of Germanicus, father of Caligula. Suetonius prefaces the life of Gaius Caligula with a lengthy discussion of the social and political environment in which Germanicus pursued a very successful military and political career. Germanicus was adopted by Tiberius, his paternal uncle, and was extremely popular with both his troops and fellow citizens. Suetonius confirms that Germanicus was widely admired and idolized, stating:
. . . it is the general opinion that Germanicus possessed all the highest qualities of body and mind, to a degree never equaled by anyone. He was a handsome man of extraordinary courage and surpassing ability in the oratory and learning of Greece and Rome. He was, besides, a man of unexampled kindliness endowed with a remarkable desire and capacity for winning men's regard and inspiring their affection. . . . he was so popular with the masses that, according to many writers, whenever he came to any place or left one, he was sometimes in danger of his life from the crowds that met him or saw him off.17
The untimely death of Germanicus, which placed Caligula in the line of succession to the imperial throne, resulted in tremendous and devastating civil turmoil, both in Rome and abroad. Suetonius records:
Yet far greater and stronger tokens of regard were shown at the time of his death and immediately afterwards. On the day when he passed away the temples were stoned and the altars of the Gods thrown down, while some flung their household Gods into the street and cast out their newly born children. Even barbarian peoples, so they say, who were engaged in war with us or with one another, unanimously consented to a truce as if all in common had suffered a domestic tragedy.18
Germanicus's popularity and the social chaos which his death caused (depicted in the bowl) set the stage for the career of the psychotic Caligula, son of the dead hero, who assumed the imperial title upon the death of Tiberius in A.D. 37. His surname, Caligula, was derived from a joke of the troops amongst whom he spent his childhood. Roman soldiers wore nail-studded half-boots called caliga: Caligula thus meant “little boot.” At age nineteen, Caligula traveled to Capri to live with Tiberius. According to Suetonius, “even at that time he could not control his natural cruelty and viciousness, but he was a most eager witness of the tortures and executions of those who suffered punishment, revelling at night in gluttony and adultery, disguised in a wig and long robe.”19 Caligula's extremely short reign (A.D. 37-41) was distinguished by opposed and seemingly incompatible modes of behavior, ranging from excessive cruelty and vice to magnanimous gestures intended to assuage the populace, such as the spectacular and costly gladiatorial exhibitions he staged throughout the empire to win popularity. Suetonius describes Caligula as an emperor who “gave many games in the Circus, lasting from early morning until evening. . . some, too, of special splendor, in which the Circus was strewn with red and green, while the charioteers were all men of senatorial rank.”20One of the elaborate chariot races in the Circus is depicted on the tazza (figure 4) with great attention to detail. Of particular interest in the depiction of this scene is the accurate and detailed representation of the architectural features of the Circus and the ornamental structures with which the Circus was equipped, such as those monuments located on the spina, a low wall erected lengthwise in the center of the Circus, around which the charioteers raced.On the spina may be recognized the great obelisk which had been transported to Rome from Heliopolis in Egypt by the emperor Augustus; the metae, or goal posts, which flank both ends of the spina; a figure of the goddess Isis seated astride a lion; a monument dedicated to Neptune, composed of four columns supporting three pairs of dolphins; and a winged figure of Victory standing upon a tall, slender column, extending a wreath in her hand.The composition of this scene is similar in many details to an engraving of the Circus Flamini by Nicolas Beatrizet after Pirro Ligorio (figure 11), which is dated 1552.21 The Beatrizet engraving also includes a legend which identifies the structures and figures on the spina. Although the designer/craftsman of the tazza may not have derived his composition directly from such an engraving, the two representations of the Circus undoubtedly share very similar sources, and both reflect architectural representations derived from Roman coins that were known to sixteenth-century artists.22The third scene to be examined on the tazza (figure 5) shows the emperor seated upon a tribunal, surrounded by advisors, soldiers, and an eager populace who approach him with outstretched arms and open palms. In the background, along an architectural wall with a pierced gallery, from which additional figures are viewing the scene, is a row of departing figures carrying what appear to be filled bags, miscellaneous objects, or pieces of cloth. A soldier standing near the emperor extends a figure of “Victory,” a standardized personification of Rome and reference to the emperor's imperial power.23 Behind the figure of the emperor is displayed a large and impressive shield. Suetonius relates that Caligula “threw various sorts of gifts among the people, to be scrambled for, and gave each man a basket of victuals,” and “he twice gave the people a largess of three hundred sesterces each, he also distributed togas to the men, and to the women and children scarves of red and scarlet. Furthermore, to make a permanent addition to the public gayety, he added a day to the Saturnalia, and called it Juvenalis."24 In addition to the public spectacles which Caligula staged for the edification of the populace, he frequently dispensed money among enthusiastic crowds to win favor and reveal his magnanimity:
To make it known that he encouraged every kind of noble action, he gave eight hundred sesterces to a freed woman, because she had kept silence about the guilt of her patron, though subjected to the utmost torture. Because of these acts, besides other honors, a golden shield was voted him, which was to be borne every year to the capitol on an appointed day by the Colleges of Priests, escorted by the Senate, while boys and girls of noble birth sang praises of his virtues in a choral ode.”25
The depiction on the Minneapolis tazza of the distribution of favors amongst the people thus follows rather closely Suetonius's description of such events.The fourth and final scene in the tazza (figure 6) narrates an imperial triumph, the usual honor given to emperors subsequent to their successful completion of a military campaign. As depicted in the tazza, the emperor proceeds in an elaborate chariot drawn by four horses toward a temple with lighted altars at either side and attendant oxen waiting to be sacrificed in honor of the arriving hero. The emperor's entourage includes trumpeters, fully armored guards flanking the procession, and a group of tall, long-haired captives being led in ropes or chains toward the temple. Onlookers crowd the foreground and fill the windows of nearby architectural structures. Suetonius records that following a somewhat farcical campaign in Germany, in which Caligula received the surrender of the son of the King of the Britons, the emperor turned
. . .his attention to his triumph, in addition to a few captives and deserters from the barbarians he chose all the tallest of the Gauls, and as he expressed it, those who were “worthy of a triumph,” as well as some of the chiefs. These he reserved for his parade, compelling them not only to dye their hair red and to let it grow long, but also to learn the language of the Germans and assume barbarian names. He wrote besides to his financial agents to prepare for a triumph at the smallest possible cost, but on a grander scale than had ever before been known, since they had full power over the property of all men.26
Scenes of triumph were popular subjects for the designer of the tazzas, and similar representations are seen on the Augustus bowl in the Wernher Collection, Luton Hoo, and on the Domitian tazza now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Italian engravings and drawings of triumphs were known throughout the sixteenth century, and similar representations can be found in late-fifteenth-century Florentine examples.27 A triumph with similar features, including bound captives leading the procession, can be found in the drawing Roman Triumph by Johannes Stradanus, now located in the Corsiana in Rome.28The figure of Augustus (figure 7), which assumes the focal position of the tazza, can also be related to an important series of engravings after Stradanus,29 a sixteenth-century Flemish master active in Italy during the last half of the century. The series of engravings depicts the twelve Caesars.30 Although the engraving of Augustus (figure 12) depicts the emperor in an equestrian pose, certain similarities between the engraved figure and that on the tazza are noteworthy, particularly the youthful and handsome facial type chosen for both and the similar details of costume, including the scroll and floral damask pattern of the emperor's cloak (figure 8). The sources for both figures and narrative scenes in the tazza are, at this point in time, still a matter of conjecture, but further research will provide a closer link between the design of the tazzas and the work of popular and well-known artists such as Stradanus.The question of the national origin of the tazzas likewise remains conjectural at this time. Until the appearance of the article by John Hayward discussed previously, most authorities held that the service was the work of a German artist, probably from Augsburg (disregarding the erroneous nineteenth-century attribution to Benvenuto Cellini). Sixteenth-century Augsburg goldsmiths were renowned for their skill in repoussé, embossing, and chasing of elaborate ornament and pictorial scenes. The Germans who made this style justly famous were not only prolific in their production of elaborately designed and crafted objects, but were also highly influential in the dissemination of the style and technique, due both to the exportation of their works to other European countries and to their extensive travels to work in foreign studios. The extremely fine, chased details and animated surfaces of the tazzas are, indeed, similar to extant examples by the Augsburg masters. This hypothesis was supported by a detail on the Domitian tazza:31 one of the banners carried by the Roman troops displays a pine cone, a reference to the emblem of the city of Augsburg. Whether the craftsman of the tazzas was of Augsburg origin or had been familiar with the city emblem through training in that important center remains unclear. However, the early association of the service with the Aldobrandini family, combined with the conservative late-sixteenth-century style of the simple fluted foot and stem and the simple guilloche and chain patterns on the perimeter of the bowl and support disk, leads one to support John Hayward's theory that the set of tazzas may have been a joint effort between Italian and/or French goldsmiths, for whom this conservative sophistication would have been typical, working with the assistance of a brilliant Northerner responsible for the chased narrative scenes.Records of contemporary practice in the workshops of Roman goldsmiths suggest that this could well have been the case with the Aldobrandini tazzas. Benvenuto Cellini, the most famous genius of Renaissance metalwork, presents evidence of international workshops; in his colorful autobiography, the great master records:
. . .I made the first step in my work upon the great salt-cellar, pressing this and my other pieces forward with incessant industry. My work-people at this time, who were pretty numerous, included both sculptors and goldsmiths. They belonged to several nations, Italian, French, and German; for I took the best I could find, and changed them often, retaining only those who knew their business well. These select craftsmen I worked to the bone with perpetual labor. They wanted to rival me; but I had a better constitution. Consequently, they took to eating and drinking copiously; some of the Germans in particular, who were more skilled than their comrades. . . .32
Both stylistically and through the evidence provided by the Aldobrandini association, the Minneapolis tazza can be presumed to date shortly prior to the accession of Pope Clement VIII in 1592; the authorship of the tazzas, however, remains an unsolved mystery. The suggestion that a Northern craftsman may have been working in Rome during this period is apposite, but unconfirmed. It is hoped that continuing research will provide more clues to the identity of the virtuoso goldsmith or workshop charged with the fashioning of these magnificent tazzas.David McFadden, formerly Curator of Decorative Arts at the Institute, is now Curator of Decorative Arts at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design in New York.Endnotes
  1. Italo-German, XVI century
    Tazza, about 1570-1580, from the service of twelve tazzas owned by Ippolito Aldobrandini, later Pope Clement VII
    Silver-gilt, 15 x 15-1/2 (diam.)
    The James Ford Bell Family Foundation Fund, the M. R. Schweitzer Fund, and the Christina N. and Swan J. Turnblad Memorial Fund, 75.54
  2. Hans Petzoldt
    Nuremberg, 1551-1633
    Ostrich Egg Cup, 1594
    Egg shell, silver-gilt and enamel
    The Christina N. and Swan J. Turnblad Memorial Fund, 53.4
  3. Eston
    Exeter, England, XVI century
    Salt, about 1575-1580
    The James S. Bell Memorial Fund, 49.7
  4. Late nineteenth-century French control marks appear on the central boss of the bowl and on the small support plate for the bowl. An indistinct mark, presumably of similar date, is stamped on the back of the cloak of the emperor figure. Assay sample scratches appear on the underside of the bowl and inside the support plate.
  5. John Hayward, “The Aldobrandini Tazzas,” Burlington Magazine 112 (October, 1970): 669-674, suggests that the small number of tassels on the tazzas perhaps indicates that Ippolito Aldobrandini held an ecclesiastical rank below that of cardinal. In general, one would expect the number of tassels for a cardinal to be higher, up to fifteen per side. However, there are notable exceptions to this tradition; for example, a sede vacante medal struck in 1740 at the behest of Cardinal Colonna, governor of the conclave which elected Benedict XIV, utilizes only six tassels per side. Thus, it is difficult to state with certainty the rank of Ippolito Aldobrandini at the time when the arms and tassels were pricked on the tazzas.
  6. Yvonne Hackenbroch, “The Emperor Tazzas,” Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 8, no. 7 (March, 1950): 189-197, surveys a group of artists who utilized this theme, including the emperor portrait medals of Giovanni Cavino (1499-1570); engravings of Theodore de Bry; enamels by Léonard Limosin of Limoges; and a series of engravings by Enco Vico, published in Venice in 1553, and by Virgil Solis (1514-1562) of Nuremberg. To these may be added the Twelve Caesars engravings after Johannes Stradanus (Jan van der Straet) by Crispin de Passe and by Adrian Collaert and Galle.
  7. For illustrations of the other tazzas, see Hayward, “Aldobrandini Tazzas,” Jackenbroch, “Emperor Tazzas,” José Camon Aznar, Guia del Museo Lazaro Galdeano, 7th ed. (Madrid, Fundación “Lazaro Galdeano,” 1973), p. 88, pl. 22, and M. Urwick-Smith, Luton Hoo: The Wernher Collection (London: Pitcairn Pictorials, 1975), p. [18].
  8. At some point in the history of the Minneapolis tazza, the name “Vespasian” was scratched on the underside of the bowl. The life of Vespasian according to Suetonius does contain a description of scenes which are similar to those on the tazza, including a triumph and games which were held in the Circus, both of which are depicted within the bowl of the Minneapolis tazza. However, other details and scenes appear to relate more clearly to the life of Caligula (see below). Comparison with the surviving photographs of the Vespasian tazza, which was in the J. Pierpont Morgan collection, substantiates the Caligula appellation for the Minneapolis tazza. For the Vespasian tazza, see Burlington Fine Arts Club, Exhibition of a Collection of Silversmith's Work of European Origin (London, 1901), pl. 74, p. 54; E. A. Jones, Illustrated Catalog of the J. Pierpont Morgan Collection of Old Plate (London, 1908), pl. 75; and E. A. Jones, Old Silver of Europe and America from Early Times to the Nineteenth Century (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1928), pl. 53, p. 212.
  9. Hayward, “Aldobrandini tazzas.”
  10. “Nella Guardarobba Aldobrandini posta nel Palazzo at Corso habitato dal Emtima Cardinale D. Benedetto Pamphily. Dodici tazzoni grandi d'argento con piedi alti historiati di basso rilievo con un Imperatore in piedi sopra ciascheduma. Pesano tutti insieme libre cento nove et oncie otto.” Archivio di Stato, Rome. Not Ac. 2661. Quoted from Hayward, “Aldobrandini Tazzas,” p. 669, no. 1.
  11. Christies, London, Catalogue, 15 May 1861, lot. 159.
  12. Frédéric Spitzer, Collection, Sale Catalog, 17 April—16 June 1893, text, vol. 2, p. 37; nos. 1748-1763.
  13. Quoted from Hayward, “Aldobrandini Tazzas,” p. 669.
  14. Hayward, ibid., related additional examples of Spitzer's alterations of objects through the substitution of more elaborate, but contemporary fittings.At some point in the history of the tazzas, yet another series of works of art was created from the originals: Christies, London, Catalogue, 26 April 1976, lot 131, plate 22, is comprised of twelve bronze statuettes of Roman emperors which were undoubtedly cast from the tazza figures, ostensibly during the nineteenth century. These bronze versions were, however, fitted with triangular plinths ornamented with caryatids, scrolls, and foliage.
  15. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
  16. All quotations used in this article are from Suetonius, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, ed. Joseph Gavorse (New York: Modern Library, 1931). My gratitude to Mr. Gerry Scott for his assistance in the research of Suetonius.
  17. Ibid., p. 168.
  18. Ibid., p. 169.
  19. Ibid., p. 172.
  20. Ibid., p. 177.
  21. My gratitude to Dr. Michael Stoughton of the University of Minnesota for bringing this print to my attention.
  22. See, for example, Margaret R. Scherer, Marvels of Ancient Rome (New York: Phaidon Press, 1955), fig. 1.
  23. See, for example, the figure of Roma, engraved by Giovanni Battista Palumbo, The Master IB with a Bird, illustrated in A. M. Hind, Early Italian Engraving (London: Bernard Quaritch, Ltd., 1948), part 2, vol. 5, pl. 834.
  24. Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars, pp. 176-177.
  25. Ibid., p. 176.
  26. Ibid., pp. 194-195.
  27. Compare Hind, Early Italian Engraving, pl. 214.
  28. Illustrated in F. Antal, “Italian Fifteenth and Sixteenth-Century Drawings at Windsor Castle,” Burlington Magazine 93 (January, 1951): 33.
  29. Johannes Stradanus (Jan van der Straet, Giovanni Stradano, Giovanni della Strada), born 1523 in Bruges, died 1605 in Florence.
  30. My gratitude to Mary Myers, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, for her assistance in obtaining photographs of the engravings.
  31. Hackenbroch, “Emperor Tazzas,” p. 192.
  32. Benvenuto Cellini, The Life of Benvenuto Cellini, trans. and ed. John Addington Symonds (New York: Heritage Press, n.d.), p. 180.
Referenced Works of Art
  1. Italo-German, XVI century
    Tazza, ca. 1570-1580, from the service of twelve tazzas owned by Ippolito Aldobrandini, later Pope Clement VIII
    15 x 15-1/2 in. (diam.)
    The James Ford Bell Family Foundation Fund, the M. R. Schweitzer Fund, and the Christina N. and Swan J. Turnblad Fund, 75.4
  2. Detail of Tazza: view of interior of bowl.
  3. Detail of Tazza: strife following the death of Germanicus.
  4. Detail of Tazza: game in the Circus Maximus.
  5. Detail of Tazza: the Emperor on a tribunal.
  6. Detail of Tazza:an imperial triumph.
  7. Detail of Tazza: figure of the Emperor Augustus.
  8. Detail of Tazza: rear view of the Emperor Augustus.
  9. Detail of Tazza: Aldobrandini arms pricked on underside of bowl.
  10. Pope Clement VIII (Ippolito Aldobrandini)
    Anonymous XVII-century artist
    Museo di Roma
    Photo: Oscar Savio
  11. Nicolas Beatrizet (after Pirro Ligorio)
    Circus Flamini, Rome
    Reproduced from Adam Bartsch, Le Peintre graveur, 21 vols. (Vienna, 1803-1821), vol. 15, p. 271, no. 104.
  12. Augustus
    Engraving after Stradanus
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1949
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Source: David Revere McFadden, "An Aldobrandini Tazza: A Preliminary Study," <i>The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin</i> 63 (1976-1977): 42-55.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009