Large panther handled askos jug by Giacinto Melillo

Price range:  PoA

An exceptional piece attributed to Giacinto Melillo (and his son Salvatore) dating from around 1914. Giacinto Melillo was Castellani’s workshop manager from around 1865 and attributed with making many of his finest jewellery pieces.

Around 1885 Melillo established his own independent business in Naples making similar revivalist classical pieces.  The design of this piece is probably based on a bronze Roman askos held within Naples Museum.  An askos is an ancient leather water bottle that was copied in other materials as far back as the Roman period, and often seen in silver in the Victorian period.  The piece is of an exceptionally heavy gauge of silver which is typical of Melillo’s other known work.

The piece is unmarked though carries the engraved initials M.B to the base.  The silver has been tested as sterling at the London assay office and dated to the period 1830- 1900.  A similar example by Melillo was sold by Parke Bernet (now Sothebys) in the 1941 sale of the Henry Walter’s Collection (Lot 1155).  For a marked Giacinto Melillo vase with similar laurel design see A766

The initials M.B on the base of this jug almost certainly stand for Marcel Boulenger. He was the greyhound trainer and friend of the famous Italian author, poet and nationalist  Gabriele D’Annunzio. D’Annunzio commissioned two panther handled jugs from Melillo (infact by this time Melillo’s son, Salvatore) as prizes for a Parisian greyhound race in 1914 and 1915 that he sponsored. This jug is believed to be the second jug, never inscribed or awarded as a prize due to the onset of the Great War.

In addition to this provenance the jug is scratched with numbers that are the registration numbers for the winner of the Waterloo Cup 1897. This was the greyhound race of the year in England equivalent to the Grand National horse race.  It is just possible therefore that D’Annunzio commissioned several cups in this form, with this one being from 1897 not the 1915 cup.

I have now created a video on this piece at this link

Maker: Giacinto Melillo (attrib)

Designer: Giacinto Melillo (attrib)

Date: c 1900

Marks: None

Material: Sterling silver

Condition: Excellent

Size: 27cm high

Weight: 1918 grams, 67.7 oz

SKU: A59 Category:


See G Munn, Castellani and Giuliano. The British Museum holds a gold Etruscan revival bracelet by Giacinto Melillo ref M&ME Hull Grundy Catalogue 959. The Metropolitan Museum, New York holds a classically inspired silver jug by Melillo ref 2006.381

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