• France, c. 1903
  • Silver and glass
  • Inv. 1190

Inkwell tray ‘The capture of Dejanira’

René Lalique

The Greek myth of the rape of Dejanira by the centaur Nessus was represented by Lalique in more than one type of object. Indeed, in addition to this silver and glass inkwell tray, the Gulbenkian Collection contains a piece of jewellery with the same theme. As a matter of fact, the artist depicted many of his favourite themes on different supports, which can also be confirmed by reference to the pieces in the collection.

This silver and glass tray was initially intended to contain an inkwell, which was subsequently removed, leaving only the piece with its decorative functions. Oval in shape, it consists of a large plate of sculpted glass surrounded by a silver frame and features a sculptural group created in the same metal in which the centaur Nessus is shown carrying Dejanira, Hercules’ wife, on his back.

These figures, genuine works of silver sculpture, reveal the collaboration that took place between the artist and his father-in-law and brother-in-law, both of whom were sculptors who worked for Rodin. The opaline glass used on the base of the tray refers us to the material that would fascinate him until the end of his days: glass. This piece has appeared in countless temporary exhibitions both in Portugal and abroad.

Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian from René Lalique, April 1903.

H. 20 cm; L. 58 cm; W. 38 cm