ATTRIBUTED TO THE ALBERGHETTI FOUNDRY
active 16th century
with a customs label to the interior
height: 16.8cm., 6⅝in.; diameter: 17.7cm., 7in.
Cast in Northern Italy, circa 1550-1580.
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Overall the condition is good with minor dirt and wear to the surface consistent with age and use. There are several minor original casting flaws throughout, including a few small lacunae such as one to one of the scratching hinds. There is particular wear around the rim at the top. There is dryness and residues to the interior consistent with use. Minor reddish residue to one side behind the lion rampant.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.
Alfred Beit (1853-1906) or Otto Beit (1865-1930), purchased between 1904 and 1913
Thence by descent to Lady Beit (1915-2005), by whom donated to the Alfred Beit Foundation in 2005
Its sale, Christie's, London, 7 December 2006, lot 139
Wilhelm Bode, Catalogue of the Collection of Pictures and Bronzes in the Possession of Mr. Otto Beit, London, 1913, p. 113, no. 255, as 'Workshop of Leopardi'
Made using the lost-wax method, mortars were cast by specialist foundries that produced a range of functional bronzes. Used for grinding food and medicine since Antiquity, mortars were produced in increasing numbers in Europe in the medieval and Renaissance period and became more elegantly proportioned as time progressed.
This finely cast and richly decorated bell-shaped mortar may be associated with the Alberghetti foundry, a family of utilitarian bronze casters active in northern Italy, primarily in Ferrara, Florence and Venice. Three mortars formerly in the Samuel H. Kress collection and now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, share the present bronze’s dolphin handles and various decorative motifs (see Pope-Hennessy, op. cit.). Compare also several mortars associated with the foundry in the Victoria and Albert Museum, with foliate garlands and friezes of acanthus leaves (see Motture, op. cit.). Note, in particular, inv. no. 345-1889, with a corresponding lion passant and scratching hind.
John Pope-Hennessy, Complete Catalogue of the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Renaissance Bronzes, London, 1965, pp. 154-155, nos. 566-568, figs. 592, 594, and 597; Peta Motture, Bells and Mortars, Catalogue of Italian Bronzes in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2001, pp. 111-116