PAULUS VAN VIANEN | SILVER PLAQUETTE OF THE JUDGEMENT OF KING MIDAS

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PAULUS VAN VIANEN (1570-1614)
Prague, dated 1605.
SILVER PLAQUETTE OF THE JUDGEMENT OF KING MIDAS
Signed and dated in the lower left corner with the monogram: P.V. 1605
Cast and chased silver
3⅛in. high by 4 7/16in. (7.9cm. by 11.3cm.);
Weight 3.67 oz. troy (114gr.)

Price available on request

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PROVENANCE
Captain Gould, sold Christie’s London, 17th May 1892, lot 32;
The Cyril Humphris Collection of European Sculpture and Works of Art Part I, Sotheby’s, New York, 10th June 1995, lot 48

EXHIBITED
Zeldzaam Zilver uit de Gouden Eeuw – De Utrechtse edelsmeden Van Vianen, Centraal Museum, Utrecht, 14th December – 10th February 1985, cat. No. 14

LITERATURE
J. R.ter Molen, Van Vianen, een Utrechtse familie van ziversmeden met een internationale faam, Rotterdam, 1984, no. 80.

COMPARATIVE LITERATURE
J. W. Frederiks, Dutch Silver, Martinus Nijhof, The Hague, 1952, vol. I, pp. 111-161,
Terez Gerszi, Paulus van Vianen, Budapest, 1982.

CATALOGUE NOTE
From 1603 until his death in 1613, Paulus van Vianen was in the service of Rudolph II in Prague and it was there that he would have executed the present relief. A drawing by van Vianen, on which this is based, is preserved in the Cabinet des Dessins, Musée du Louvre (see also Utrecht exhibition catalogue (op. cit. fig. 47); in particular, note Apollo before Midas and the two left hand reclining figures, one playing a lute, the other holding a flail. This drawing is furthermore interlinked with an engraving by Hendrik Goltzius, illustrated Gerszi (op. cit. fig. 171).

The intricate and delicate relief depicts the mythological story of a musical competition between Apollo and Pan which was adjudicated by the mountain god Tmolus. The winner was Apollo, but King Midas disagreed with the verdict and for his dissent the angered Apollo gave him ass’s ears. Pan escaped with nothing more than the embarrassment of having lost, unlike his fellow satyr Marsyas who was flayed alive when he lost a similar musical contest to Apollo.

Paulus van Vianen was born in Utrecht around 1570 into a family of excellent silversmiths. He received his training and artistic education from Bruno Ellardsz van Leyenberg of Utrecht and later from his brother Cornelius Ellardsz. Unlike his elder brother Adam van Vianen, also a talented silversmith who remained in Utrecht his entire life, Paul travelled extensively to France, Germany and Italy. It was probably whilst in France that he was first introduced to mannerism and during 1596 to 1601 he worked for the Bavarian court in Munich. In 1598 he married Christina Kauffman, became a citizen of Munich and was finally admitted into the guild. After the eighteenth of May 1601, he left for Salzburg where he was appointed court goldsmith to Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau, a notable patron of the arts and godfather to Paulus’s first son. During this period, he made plein air drawings of the environment which he later used for his compositions in silver.

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