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Apollo on Mount Helicon, an enamel painted dish signed by Susanne de Court

 

Length: 19.500 cm

Bequeathed by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild

M&ME Waddesdon Bequest 48

Room 45: Waddesdon Bequest

    Apollo on Mount Helicon, an enamel painted dish signed by Susanne de Court

    From Limoges, France, late 16th - early 17th century AD

    This oval dish, is painted in enamel on copper with the story from Greek mythology of Apollo on Mt. Helicon. It is signed in a panel SVSANNE . COVRT for Susanne (de) Court, most likely a member of the (de) Court dynasty of enamel painters who ran a workshop over several generations in Limoges. The scene is after a print by Giorgio Ghisi (1520-82) of Mantua.

    The enamel on copper technique, where the enamel is painted in a liquid form on to the copper base before firing, allows great variation and subtlety in shades and graphic effects. Limoges was the principal centre for painted enamel from the late fifteenth century, with a number of different workshops with highly skilled painters. Polychrome enamelling comprises semi-opaque enamels on a white ground, and is in sharp contrast to grisaille enamelling, which is carried out in shades of grey and white tones on a black ground: both styles can be seen here.

    The deep well of the dish is painted in brilliant colours, with liberal use of gilding and translucent enamel on foil. The reverse of the dish is painted in grisaille and gilt on a black ground with a Mannerist strapwork design incorporating caryatids and masks. Work by Susanne (de) Court is characterized by varying tones of blues and greens with white flesh tints, and by a delicate painterly technique.

    H. Tait, Catalogue of the Waddesdon B-1 (London, 1988)

    P. Verdier, Catalogue of the painted ename (Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1967)

    M.M. Gauthier, Émaux du moyen-âge occidental (Fribourg, 1972)

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