National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Flask Medici Porcelain Factory (artist)
Italian, 1574 - 1620
Flask, c. 1575/1587, or slightly later
imitation porcelain (a version of soft-paste porcelain)
overall (height to rim): 12.7 cm (5 in.)
Widener Collection
On View
From the Tour: Italian Cabinet Galleries
Object 1 of 6


"Casa Murata," Florence. (Pacini, Florence). (Stanislas Baron, Paris), by 1882. Alfred André [1839-1919], Paris; his son, Léon Alexandre André [1873-1954], Paris; J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York, 1905.[1] After Morgan's death, 1913, to (Duveen Brothers); purchased 23 November 1917 by Joseph E. Widener, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania;[2] inheritance from Estate of Peter A.B. Widener by gift through power of appointment of Joseph E. Widener, after purchase by funds of the Estate; gift 1942 to NGA.

[1] The early provenance is as given by Davillier, Jean Charles, Les origines de la porcelaine en Europe, Paris and London, 1882. Despite the generous efforts of Professor Marco Spallanzani in Florence libraries, no information on the "Casa Murata" has been traced. Linda Horvitz Roth provided the details of the 1905 sale invoice to Pierpont Morgan, which is in the archives of the Pierpont Morgan Library. Alfred André was a goldsmith, enamelist, and restorer of Medieval and Renaissance objets d'art, who studied and reactivated old enameling methods. He had workshops for various decorative arts techniques in a wing of his Paris home, working with other goldsmiths, hardstone carvers and ceramists. André transferred half of the business to his son Léon in 1905, after the latter's marriage. This is likely how Léon acquired the flask and sold it to Morgan the same year. Léon André took complete control of the shop in 1907.

[2] A note in NGA curatorial files states that the flask was found unrecognized among Pierpont Morgan's Chinese porcelain at Duveen's by Joseph Widener and acquired at low cost. Edith Standen, who was curator at Lynnewood Hall before the Widener collection was given to the National Gallery and has kindly responded to inquiries about the history of the collection, was unable to confirm this story. It must be regarded as improbable that Duveen's would have failed to recognize a marked piece of Medici porcelain, but it is true that Widener paid a surprisingly low price for the flask.

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