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Work Oval bowl

Department of Decorative Arts: Renaissance

Oval sard wash basin

© 1991 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet

Decorative Arts

Barbier Muriel

This solid sard vase, which entered the collection of Louis XIV (1638-1715), a great lover of hard stone, was embellished with a gold mount. The bowl is a Byzantine work dating from the 10th or 11th century, as indicated by the somewhat clumsy workmanship. The mount, which has undergone several restorations, was made for the bowl in the 16th century.

The cutting of the bowl

This oval bowl is made of brown and white sard stone. The interior has a bumpy surface and an oval bottom. On the outside there are a number of flaws, some of which are concentrated in oval depressions produced in an attempt to remove them. This work belongs to a series of sard bowls - with or without gadrooning, and more or less elaborate - such as three other bowls also kept in the Louvre, which have tool marks on the inside.

A Byzantine ewer

The Byzantine emperors liked to give hard-stone vases as gifts. According to the ancient tradition, these vases were thick and monolithic. Their finishing was not perfect. Their surface was not smooth and tool marks remained visible, as did flaws in the stone. Moreover, the vases were generally not decorated. The bowl in the Louvre shares these characteristics and can therefore be considered a Byzantine work.

The mount

The mount was made in the 16th century. The bowl is set into two gold circles by which the side of the bowl is attached to the base. These two bands are somewhat reminiscent of medieval mounts. The base, comprising a frieze of ribboned wicker, a frieze of acanthus leaves, and a frieze of interlacing, is supported by two lion's paws topped with acanthus leaves. The band around the rim is a double frieze adorned with two lion's heads with rings in their mouths on either side. This mount was reworked by Antoine Gibert in 1781, who dismantled it and reddened the trim. P.N. Ménière was also commissioned to carry out a restoration, which never took place.


Alcouffe Daniel, Les Gemmes de la Couronne, Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2001, p. 87-88.

Technical description

  • Oval sard wash basin

    10th-11th century?

    Byzantine art

  • Gold mount: Paris, c. 1550

    H. 17.50 cm; Diam. 9 cm

  • Former collection of Henri II; entered the collection of Louis XIV before 1673

    MR 128

  • Decorative Arts

    Denon wing
    1st floor
    Galerie d'Apollon
    Room 705

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Additional information about the work

Number engraved on the edge of the mount: 414 (1791 inventory number)