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    Sale 7631

    Important European Furniture & Sculpture

    4 December 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 20

    A GILT-BRASS MOUNTED AMBER TWO-HANDLED CUP

    NORTH GERMAN, MID 17TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A GILT-BRASS MOUNTED AMBER TWO-HANDLED CUP
    NORTH GERMAN, MID 17TH CENTURY
    The tapering body flanked by two handles in the form of scrolling caryatids with shells above; the body with eight panels engraved with trophies, animals and fruit; on a baluster stem with gadrooned knop and a domed shaped foot with acanthus leaf decoration; with a small paper label inscribed '22' under the foot, also including a gilt-brass circular foot with amber ball feet; a section beneath the amber foot and above the gilt-metal ring lacking; other minor losses
    5 1/8 in. (13 cm.) high


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    Carving in amber has long been regarded as one of the most virtuoso, and highly prized, expressions of northern European artistry. This was especially the case in the late 16th and 17th centuries when members of the royal houses of Austria and Germany feverishly collected, and commissioned, artists to produce virtuoso works of art in exotic materials for their kunstkammer collections. The purpose of these collections was to enhance the Fürstliche Reputation und Zier (princely reputation and decoration) as well as the intellectual understanding of the natural world. Through the carving and subsequent observation of wondrous natural elements such as amber, hardstones and ivory, these collectors felt as if nature, and indeed the universe itself, could be categorised and shaped by mankind.

    In terms of form and style of decoration, the cup offered here is closely comparable to three other elaborate cups cited by Rohde, housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the Musée Cluny, Paris and the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna that are dated to the first half of 17th century (loc. cit.). Although the decoration on the body of the present lot is engraved, while on the latter examples it is rendered in relief, it is not an entirely unusual characterstic - as can be seen on the base of a candlestick dated to circa 1650 and illustrated in Laue, Bernstein kostbarkeiten - Europäischer kunstkammern, Munich, 2006, no. 7.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Literature

    A. Rohde, Bernstein ein Deutscher Werkstoff - Seine kunstlerische Verarbeitung vom Mittelalter bis zum 18. Jahrhundert, Berlin, 1937, pl. 33, nos. 81-84.
    M. Trusted, Catalogue of European Ambers in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1985, pp. 40-41.