Aedicule with the Assumption of the Virgin
Jacques Stella (1596-1657)
17th century, Oil on lapis lazuli, ebony, semi-precious stones, gilded metal, and rock crystal
This precious artefact is a fine example of the attention that was paid, in 17th century Rome, to all that was most precious, refined and rare in objects intended for private devotion among nobles at court, who evidently also aspired to excel in luxury and opulence. The aedicule is made of ebony, with silver finishes set with various semi-precious stones such as jasper, rock crystal, carnelian, and agate, among others, and contains an Assumption of the Virgin painted in oil on lapis lazuli by French painter Jacques Stella. Stella is representative of the classically inspired Baroque age and the quality of the small painting, with its elegant composition and confident brushwork, attests to the skill of the artist, who was active in Florence and Rome as well as in his homeland. The frame is stunning, a masterpiece of architecture and the goldsmith's art and the result of the highest Roman craftsmanship, probably by a Flemish master active at the papal court, since Clement VIII Aldobrandini had granted permission to work with semi-precious stones and crystals to decorate altars and tabernacles, to the greater glory of the Catholic Church.