A very fine pair of Empire gilt bronze and porphyry coupes, each with a circular gadrooned dish with frieze of vine leaves and bunches of grapes on a matted ground, the interior centred by a beautiful Medusa mask head medallion encircled by a ring of fruiting vines, the stem with overlapping berried laurel leaves on a circular stepped foot on a circular porphyry plinth with gadrooned gilt bronze band on a square porphyry base supported by gilt bronze lion paw feet at each corner
Paris, date circa 1810-20
Height 38 cm, diameter of the top 35 cm. each.
This coupe is based on an antique tazza, which was reintroduced by the Renaissance goldsmiths. On the finest examples the foot and inner surface were often decorated with subjects drawn from ancient mythology. In this instance the interior of the dish is centred by a Medusa mask, which in its design compares with the cameo on the underside of the ancient Tazza Farnese (now in the Museo Nazionale di Napoli). While coupes were intended either merely for display, or for use as stands for plants, fruits or perfumes, tazzas were possibly used for offering wine or sweetmeats. However because of their highly decorative quality they were more likely to be intended as show pieces. It is possibly because of the association with the offering of wine that the present example is copiously decorated with sprays of vine leaves and grapes.