Design for a Mass Card Stand

Workshop of Luigi Valadier, Italian, 1726 - 1785

Made in Italy, Europe

c. 1760

Pen and brown ink with brush and brown and blue washes, heightened with touches of white opaque watercolor, on beige laid paper

Sheet: 19 3/8 x 26 inches (49.2 x 66 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the J. Stogdell Stokes Fund, 1998

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There are few designs for decorative-arts objects in the Museum's Italian drawings collection. This sheet, a design for a Mass card holder for a church altar, is from the workshop of the most important Roman gold- and silversmith of the eighteenth century. Valadier's shop produced a variety of objects for noble and princely patrons, both secular and ecclesiastical, from monumental commissions such as altarpieces to small-scale domestic items such as inkstands, salvers, tableware, and candlesticks.

Additional information:
  • PublicationArt in Rome in the Eighteenth Century

    The Mass card rests on scroll feet with cherubs, supporting a frame with curved sides that widens out towards the top, and is surmounted by a broken pediment. Festooned cherubs uphold the swelling sides of the frame, while freestanding putti with palm leaves are seated on the reversed corbels on the top of the side pieces of the pediment, which rises in the middle to form an aedicule with the risen Christ in an oval at the center. At the base is another plaque depicting a pelican, a symbol of Christ.

    There are various drawings from the workshop of Luigi Valadier and his son Giuseppe (mostly belonging to the Museo Municipale in Faenza and the Artemis Group in London) featuring designs for Mass cards, but until now only one of these has been identified with an actual surviving work- part of the liturgical equipment for the Borghese Chapel, which Prince Borghese ordered from Luigi Valadier in 1762 (González-Palacios 1997, Valadier, nos. 33-34).

    This drawing is more akin to another sheet from the same collection, attributed to Giovanni Bettati (c. 1700-1777), featuring two designs for a Mass card, which has many similarities with the one displayed here (Winter 1991, fig. 4). Giovanni Bettati was a silversmith and ornament maker who must have had connections with Luigi Valadier (among the Valadiers' papers are some sixty sheets of drawings done by Bettati). He is also known to have acted as a consultant in various controversies surrounding the liturgical items made by the Roman silversmith Antonio Vendetti for the chapel of St. John the Baptist in the church of S. Roque in Lisbon, commissioned by John V. It is therefore interesting to compare this design with Bettati's drawings and the Mass cards made by Vendetti for the Lisbon chapel, which seem to have been composed to a similar architectural design, featuring a pediment, aedicule, and putti crowning a similar, albeit more rigid, flared structure (see Art in Rome, cat. 74, Santa Casa da Misericórdia, de Lisboa Museu de São Roque Lisbon.). Roberto Valeriani, from Art in Rome in the Eighteenth Century (2000), cat. 76, p. 188.

    Works Cited
    González-Palacios, Alvar. L'oro di Valadier: un genio nella Roma del Settecento. Rome: Palombi, 1997.
    Winter, John. "Further Drawings from Valadier's Workshop: The Silver Designs of Giovanni Bettati." Apollo, n.s., vol. 133 (1991), pp. 320-22.