A Beautiful 19thC North Italian Ornamental Cup and Cover c.1860

Origin: North Italian
Period: Mid Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1850-70
Height: 11 inches
Depth: 4 inches
Width: 7 inches (all at extremities)

Expertly carved in bone, elephant's ivory, horn and bronze, the seven sides to the body carved with storks, applied with two zoomorphic bronze handles, the cover surmounted with a small figure of a soldier in ancient armour, probably Mars, the interior part lined in chamfered and stained softwood, the whole surviving from the second half of nineteenth century Italy.

The piece is presented in sound overall condition with a nice aged patination to the bone and ivory and verdegris to the bronze. It has possibly been rebuilt in its lifetime with some signs of glue residue in places and she has some movement to her joints and sections though she is sound enough. The whole appears to be entirely original with no replacement sections aside from one possible segment to the cover. The mounts are all original. There are no significant losses to speak of, with one or two small cracks to the whole.

This piece is rich with symbolism. The stork, or cicogna in Italian, amongst other things are faithful creatures. They will return to the same nest for their entire lives and if a stork should choose your house, legend says it will bring luck to your family.

In ‘The Roman Family In Italy: Status, Sentiment, Space’ by Beryl Rawson, it is said;

“It was commonly regarded as a law of nature and of the gods that children should treat their parents well. Nature, indeed, provided a model for this in the way that some animals were nelieved to nurse their old parents, in particular the stork, a bird which came to symbolize filial piety by – so it was believed – voluntarily caring for its old parents by providing them with food and shelter. Storks are faithful creatures. They will return to the same nest for their entire lives. if a stork should choose your house, local legend says it will bring luck to your family. Whether the soldier mounting the cup is of Mars is difficult to say with certainty but if so he was of course the god of war but also an agricultural guardian.

When polished, the lustrous surface of ivory is enticing to the touch and especially well suited for works meant to be handled in the intimate environment of private devotion or the collectors' cabinets and this piece is no different.

A thing of true beauty which would have represented loyalty, unity and unconditional love at the time it was crafted and gifted.