Italy, circa 1780
This elegant & refined masterpiece, carved from beautiful white marble, draws inspiration from both the ancient Greek Kylix form & Roman Neoclassicism. Carved from two solid sections. The upper gadrooned crater, each side with generously proportioned fluted handles emerging from the heads of two beautifully detailed Seilenoi, the whole being carved from one glorious piece, sitting, via metal mount, upon a majestically fluted expanding waisted socle with squared plinth, again all carved from one piece, highlighting both its rarity & importance. It was commissioned as the finest of table top centrepieces for cooling of wine, to sit upon the grandest of 18th Century dining tables. The rarity of this piece cannot be overstated, to have a wine cooler carved from fine Italian white marble was considered both the height of both aristocratic wealth & exquisite taste. It is in excellent condition for its age, use & handling.
The attention to detail is incredible, the crater has been carved in such a fine way to reduce the thickness & therefore the weight of this masterpiece, whilst allowing it to display its full grandiose presence. The boldly shaped handles, carved from one with the crater, give the perfect strength to lift the top when full, are a master of powerful expression. A similar masked handle can be seen on the footed marble basin decorated with Seilenoi heads, 1st century BC, that is in The Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
THE SEILENOI ( or Sileni ), as you know, were elderly rustic spirits ( Daimones ) in the train of the God Dionysus. They were sons of the first Seilenos and the fathers of the tribes of Satyrs and Oreiades ( mountain nymphs ). The Seilenoi were depicted as elderly, white-haired satyrs with assine ears and snub nose. The twelve male guardians of the infant Dionysus known as Pheres Lamioi, were Seilenoi. DIONYSUS (or Dionysos), as you know, was the great Olympian God of wine, vegetation, pleasure and festivity. The fact two Seilenoi heads sit at each side of the crater, further show the incredible thought that went into their design, protecting the wine of their God & the strong Greco Roman influence that this important piece displays.
This incredibly rare & grand proportioned masterpiece is without question Museum quality & a true work of sculptural art, perhaps the finest marble table top wine cooler centrepiece ever produced.
Width: 23 inches
Height: 16.25 inches
Diameter of Crater: 18 inches