A Good French Gilt Metal Renaissance Revival Wine Cistern c.1870

Origin: French
Period: 2nd Empire
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1870-80
Height: 14”
Width: 23.5”

The late nineteenth century French gilt metal wine cistern of large proportions, in Renaissance revival style, decorated with bands of scrolling vine leaves with central Bacchus masks, above scenes of Bacchanalian revelry involving putto, the handles formed as caryatids, the whole standing on paw feet.

The condition of the cistern is good overall. The patina to the gilding is pleasing with some wear to the extremities and of course largely to the caryatid handles and there appears to be no replacement parts or major losses. There is a repair to one of the paw feet and a couple of small dints and one small area of loss to the rim. If the piece had a liner it is absent.

This wine cistern has some influence on its design from the famous magnificent silver wine cistern commissioned by the English banker and silversmith Henry Jernegan (ca. 1688–1745/6) for his client Littleton Pointz Meynell (ca. 1695–1752) who was desirous to have the "largest and finest silver cistern that ever was or could be…" A first sketch of the design honouring the wine god Bacchus was carried out by the antiquarian and engraver George Vertue (1684-1756) and the wax models for the figures were executed by the Flemish-born English sculptor John Michael Rysbrack (1694–1770). The actual cistern, now in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, was the work of the silversmith Charles Frederick Kandler (act. 1720–1770s). Elkington & Co made a good reproduction of this cistern in the 1880s, at about the same time this piece was made over in neighbouring France.

The bacchanalia were rites originally held in ancient Greece as the Dionysia and were wild and mystic festivals of the Greco-Roman god Bacchus (or Dionysus), the wine god. The term has since come to describe any form of drunken revelry. Putti like this are a classical motif found primarily on child sarcophagi of the 2nd century, where they are depicted fighting, dancing, participating in bacchic rites, and playing sports.

Sending one and all into a bacchanalian frenzy.