The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Inkstand
  • Workshop of Luigi Valadier (1726 - 1785)
  • Italy
  • c. 1785
  • Gilt-bronze, porphyry, serpentine, parcel-gilt silver, glass paste, steel bolt, pinewood and leather
  • Object size: 26.5 x 48.5 x 46.8 cm, inkstand
    Object size: 12.5 x 64 x 51.2 cm, travelling case
  • Incised mark: 'vii viii viiii x' Scratched, in italics
    Incised mark: 'iiii v vi' Scratched, in italics
    Incised mark: 'ii iii' Scratched, in italics
    Incised mark: 'xi xii' Scratched, in italics
  • F288
  • West Gallery I
Further Reading
  • This splendid inkstand was made in the Valadier workshop in the Via del Babuino, Rome, for Pope Pius VI who had visited the workshop in 1779 and who was a great collector of Ancient Roman and Egyptian works of art. The five containers consist of a central penholder in the shape of a vase of serpentine supported on a pedestal, a sand-shaker and inkwell, both in the form of cylindrical pedestals, and two sarcophagus-shaped containers supported on lion-paw feet. The gilt-bronze frame of the stand is decorated with eagles and glass paste cameos of classical male heads, including Homer, Julius Caesar and Socrates. Porphyry was mined in Egypt in ancient times; it was associated with Roman Emperors and was much beloved of collectors of antiquities in the Renaissance and beyond.
    The inkstand was in Valadier’s workshop in June 1785 when it was shown to the sculptor Vincenzo Pacetti. Since Luigi Valadier did not commit suicide until September of that year, it is highly likely that he was personally involved in making this highly accomplished neo-classical work.