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Sacrifice to Flora

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1500-1550 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Belli, Valerio, born 1468 - died 1546 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Venetian glass paste with silver mounting

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 62, The Foyle Foundation Gallery, case 7

This moulded glass plaque depicts an imaginary scene in which various figures gather to make a sacrifice at an altar. It was probably cast from a bronze relief as bronze versions of the same subject exist. Both the glass cast and the bronzes are probably reproductions of an original rock crystal intaglio (a carving hollowed out of the surface) by Valerio Belli (lived about 1468-1546).

Belli was a famous engraver of hardstones and gems, in particular rock crystal. He spent the most important part of his career in Rome working at the papal court under two successive popes. He also worked in Vicenza, his native city. He is particularly celebrated as an engraver of rock crystal, and many casts in bronze exist of his engravings.

Physical description

'A Sacrifice to Flora', intaglio in Venetian glass paste with silver mounting. A draped female figure pours a libation at an altar behind which grows a small tree. Behind her are four women draped and walking to the right; the first is playing cymbals, the second (forming the central figure of the composition) bears a basket of grapes on her head, the third carries a wand or thyrsus, and the fourth is looking back. In the background and arcade supported on four columns and decorated. The silver mount has a twisted moulding on the edge. Broken and chipped, the ring of the silver mount has broken off.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)


ca. 1500-1550 (made)


Belli, Valerio, born 1468 - died 1546 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Venetian glass paste with silver mounting


Height: 6.6 cm, Width: 5 cm, Depth: 0.8 cm, Weight: 0.04 kg

Object history note

Purchased from M. Stora & Co.

Historical significance: Probably moulded from an impression of a hardstone intaglio engraving by Valerio Belli. Kris describes this version incorrectly as 'chalcedony', a description which has persisted elsewhere, eg Bargello catalogue. Exists in Tassie's casts (no. 8410). For two bronze plaquettes of the same image see Burns et al, 2000. One of a group of images of the same subject after Valerio Belli, this intaglio has similarities to the Museum's gilt bronze plaquette (A.480-1910).

Historical context note

Shows how images known from engraved gems and hardstones persisted and often appeared again, in form of glass casts, bronze plaquettes and small reliefs.

Descriptive line

'A Sacrifice to Flora', intaglio in Venetian glass paste with silver mounting, School of Valerio Belli, Italy, 16th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kris, E, Meister und meisterwerke der steinschneidekunst in der Italieneschen Renaissance, Vienna, 1929 (reprinted 1979), p.164, no.207
Toderi, G & F V Placchette secoli XV-XVIII nel Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, 1996, p.45, no.68
Raspe, R E, A Descriptive Catalogue of...Ancient and Modern Engraved Gems...by James Tassie, Modeller, London, 1791, no.8410
Burns, H, Collareta, M, Gasparotto, D, Valerio Belli Vicentino 1468c.-1546, Vicenza, 2000, p.345, no.104


Glass; Silver

Subjects depicted

Sacrifice; Trees; Women; Batons (symbols of office); Columns; Cymbals; Altars; Temples; Mantles; Basket


Sculpture; Glass; Artists' multiples


Sculpture Collection

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