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Situla (holy-water stoup): the Adoration of the Shepherds, after Cornelius Van Cleve

© 2011 Musée du Louvre / Philippe Fuzeau

Decorative Arts
17th century

Barbier Muriel

This stoup is made up of a wall plaque on the bottom of which is affixed a small receptacle. The plaque is decorated with a low relief depicting the adoration of the shepherds. Combining embossed and chased silver, this early work by the silversmith Nicolas Delaunay (1646-1727) marks an essential stage in his career and is a rare example of seventeenth-century religious silverwork.

The low relief and its frame

The low relief is underlined by a frieze of ovolos and darts, and marked at the four corners by geometrical protrusions decorated with a latticework of ribbons and roses. The vertical sections are adorned with the winged heads of angels, which can also be seen to either side of the small classical lamps on the upper cornice. The composition of the low relief depicting the Adoration of the Shepherds is very similar to that of a small circular plaque, in gilt bronze, in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Pisa (Italy). Parallels have been drawn between these two low reliefs and the plates engraved by Daret and Audran, after Charles Errard, for the Brevarium Romanum, published in Paris in 1647. The stoup, however, seems to have been manufactured during the last third of the seventeenth century, and the model was surely executed by the sculptor Corneille Van Cleve, who was none other than Delaunay's brother-in-law. The vigorous reliefs of the cast frame, which juxtapose ornamentation in linear friezes, in relief, and in the round, contrast with the elegance and refinement of the central low relief. These various treatments reveal two totally different facets of Delaunay's talent.

The influence of Claude Ballin the Elder

The protruding areas of the cornices, as well as the expressive faces of the angels, call to mind the reliquary cross of Michel Phelypeaux, made by Claude Ballin the Elder (1615-78) in 1665/1666 and today in the Musée Saint-Nicolas of Vitré (France). Ballin's influence comes as no surprise at this point in Delaunay's career. The latter married Ballin's niece in 1677 and, according to the terms of his marriage, was committed to two years of salaried service in Ballin's workshop. Working under his direction, Delaunay could only be his interpreter.


BIMBENET-PRIVAT M., Les Orfèvres et l'orfèvrerie parisienne de Paris au XVIIe siècle, Paris, 2002, t. 2, pp. 371-373.

Technical description

  • Nicolas DELAUNAY (1646 - 1727)

    Situla (holy-water stoup): the Adoration of the Shepherds, after Cornelius Van Cleve



  • Gilded silver

  • Former David David-Weill collection. Anonymous gift, 1971 , 1971

    OA 10416

  • Decorative Arts

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    Porcelain room
    Room 605

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