Many New Yorkers will remember with what bitter disillusion they learned, in the early 1980s, that one of the Metropolitan Museum’s most admired and precious Renaissance treasures was, in fact, a nineteenth-century concoction. Predictably, they may also have experienced a frisson of satisfaction that, yet again, those learned, pompous art historians and connoisseurs had been duped, this time for decades on end. In fact, the glorious, and gloriously extravagant, “Rospigliosi Cup” turned out to be the inspired invention of a supremely gifted but totally obscure Aachen goldsmith named Reinhold Vasters (1827–1909). The magnificent gold and jewel-encrusted object had entered the museum in 1913 with the Benjamin Altman bequest as a work of none other than Benvenuto Cellini. By a striking coincidence, only a few years after the “Cellini” cup was grandly installed at the Metropolitan, a huge...

 

A Message from the Editors

Our past successes are owed to our greatest ambassadors: our readers. Our future rests on your support, as The New Criterion Editor Roger Kimball explains. Will you help us continue to bring our incisive review of the arts and culture to the next generation of readers?

Popular Right Now