Holy-water stoup with relief of Mary of Egypt

Maker: Giovanni Giardini (Italian, Forlì 1646–1722 Rome)

Artist: Relief after a composition by Benedetto Luti (Italian, Florence 1666–1724 Rome)

Date: ca. 1702

Culture: Italian, Rome

Medium: Lapis lazuli, silver, and gilded bronze

Dimensions: Gr. H. 23-3/4 in. (60.3 cm); Gr. W. 14-3/8 in. (36.5 cm); Gr. D. 4-1/2 in. (11.4 cm)

Classification: Metalwork-Silver In Combination

Credit Line: Wrightsman Fund, 1995

Accession Number: 1995.110


In the fifth century, Saint Mary of Egypt spent forty-seven years as a holy hermit in the desert until a priest visited her with the bread and wine of the Eucharist. Like the painting by Benedetto Luti on which it is based, the silver relief in this holy-water stoup depicts the saint seated alone in a rocky wilderness. Given by Pope Clement IX to the Spanish ambassador at the papal court, it suggests the munificence of the papacy and the splendor of Roman Baroque church furnishings, including those intended for the private chapels of the powerful.