Attributed to Alessandro Bonaventurini (Verona, 1515 - ?)
Inscribed in Latin ‘BONIS NOCET QUIS PEPERCERIT MALIS’ (‘He Hurts the Good Who Spares the Bad’), dated on the inner rim ‘1559’, with the coat of arms of the Ganbicurti family
Daniel Katz Ltd., London, early 1980s
Michael and Jane Dunn, New York
Frank Cowan, New York, 1990s and sold by his widow to
Ross Levett, Maine, USA
Private collection, USA, 2008
Handed down through generations and previ- ously part of important collections, this fine handbell is an admirable example of Northern Italian 16th Century metalwork. Foliate orna- ments and arabesque patterns decorate the damascened surface, which features armorials of the Ganbicurti, a noble family from Verona, on either side of the bell.
Dated 1559 on the inner rim, the bell is also in- scribed in Latin ‘BONIS NOCET QUIS PEPERCERIT MALIS’.
The quote, which can be translated to ‘He Hurts the Good Who Spares the Bad’, is from Publili- us Syrus (85 - 43 BC) a Roman slave from Syria, who by his wit and talent won the favour of his master who educated him and granted him his freedom.
The handbell shows a smooth aged greenish patina with extensive gold and silver inlay remaining, and retaining the original bronze clapper.
Handbells played an important role in the 16th Century and were also used as commemorative gifts for important occasions. Great Venetian and northern Italian handbells similar to this one are today part of significant museum collections and an almost identical example is depicted on the desk of St Augustine in the celebrated painting by Vittore Carracio housed in the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni in Venice.
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