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Jade bowl in the form of a shell

"© 1993 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet

Decorative Arts
17th century

Barbier Muriel

The Augsburg lapidaries were very active in the 17th century. The jade bowl in the Louvre is an example of their work. It was purchased by Louis XIV along with another bowl now kept in the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. The highly ornate mount was produced at the same time as the bowl by Johann Daniel Mayer.

The Augsburg lapidaries

A number of lapidaries are known to have been active in Augsburg in the second third of the seventeenth century, including Johann Daniel Mayer, who in about 1662-63 delivered several vases to Duke Eberhard III of Württemberg (1614-1674), today kept in the Landesmuseum in Stuttgart. The vessels executed by Mayer are mainly in jasper and composed of three parts: a shell-shaped bowl decorated with foliage sculpted in relief, a baluster foot, and a shell-shaped base. The mounts, made in the same period as the vessels themselves, were executed by various goldsmiths. The Louvre bowl has the characteristics of Mayer's work and may therefore be formally attributed to him.

A jade bowl

The bowl was carved from the block and gadrooned. The gadroons are separated by sharp ridges and carved with large leaf motifs. On the tip, a puttied sphere and an eagle in a lighter jade have been added, but were not included in the original design. The double-scroll pedestal stands on a circular base. The latter - added at a later date - is shell-shaped and engraved with a fleur-de-lis.

A mount decorated with semiprecious stones

The mount is made up of three elements in vermeil covered in precious stones: two rings and the rim of the base. The upper ring is studded with six turquoises alternating with six roses formed by a central amethyst surrounded by four citrines and two peridots. The slightly narrower lower ring is decorated in the same manner. The polychrome base is embellished with three types of ornamentation: four large coral cameos depicting Roman emperors surrounded by eight amethysts or citrines; four octagonal peridots flanked with six amethysts and two citrines; and eight large octagonal amethysts ringed with four turquoises and six citrines. This sumptuous mount is similar to that of a rock-crystal ewer in the Grünes Gewölbe in Dresden. The mounted bowl constitutes an example of the highly refined work in gold and silver of 17th-century Europe.


Alcouffe Daniel, Les Gemmes de la Couronne, Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2001, p. 354-356.

Technical description

  • Attributed to Johann Daniel MAYER (Augsburg, c. 1660-70)

    Jade bowl in the form of a shell

  • Mount: partially gilded silver, coral cameos, amethysts, citrines, turquoises

    H. 38 cm; W. 33 cm

  • Purchased by Louis XIV at Augsburg, 1685

    MR 185

  • Decorative Arts

    Denon wing
    1st floor
    Galerie d'Apollon
    Room 66

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Additional information about the work

Number engraved under the rim of the base: 93 (1791 inventory number)