• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2767

    Catalogue I. Dutch and Foreign Silver, Objects of Vertu and Judaica. Catalogue II The Wttewaall Silver Collection

    10 December 2007, Amsterdam

  • Lot 196

    AN IMPORTANT AND EXTREMELY RARE GERMAN SILVER PARCEL-GILT AND FILIGREE JUDAICA SPICE TOWER

    APPARENTLY UNMARKED, PROBABLY NUREMBERG SECOND HALF 17TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    AN IMPORTANT AND EXTREMELY RARE GERMAN SILVER PARCEL-GILT AND FILIGREE JUDAICA SPICE TOWER
    APPARENTLY UNMARKED, PROBABLY NUREMBERG SECOND HALF 17TH CENTURY
    Set on six claw-and-ball form feet, a hexagonal domed base, a baluster stem, the hexagonal spice-section with the filigree hinged door is fitted with a gallery with a balustrade below, very delicately decorated with twisted wirework and six twisted wirework pillars, each topped by a ball and gilt pennant, each of the gallerys six corners is adorned with a gilt cast silver human figure, the lovely shaped corner figures, with their skirts and helmets, are, two soldiers, of which one is armed with a spear and the other with a shouldered truncheon, symbolically guarding the contents of the tower, and four musicians including two drummers, a trombone blower and a clarinet player, the two-tiered bell-tower fitted with a gallery, hung with a bell inside, pierced with arch-form windows, surmounted by a shaped dome with a ball and openwork gilt pennant representing a jumping stag, with an additional gilt figure representing a trumpeter atop the flagpole
    29 cm. high
    384 gr.


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    The presence of the cast silver gilt figures is typical for the early German Jewish spice towers of the sixteenth and seventeenth century. They were probably inspired by the contemporary use of automata with animated figures on clockworks in the towers of public buildings in German towns. Excellently preserved, with splendid, warm, untouched patina, fine detailing and superb filigree-work and especially with the extremely rare combination of six corner figures together with the presence of an extra figure on top, distinguishes the present tower as one of the earliest and most impressive examples of its kind.

    A similar, also unmarked, spice tower with almost identical iconography and design in the collection of the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, is originally attributed to an unknown late 17th century Nuremberg master. However this tower misses the additional gilt figure on top. The Amsterdam spice tower is one of the 140 remaining objects of the Museum pre-war collection. Most likely the localisation and the dating are based on information about the acquisition and the provenance that has got lost as result of the looting during the Second World War. After the war the existing data were adopted by the curators who worked on the rebuilding of the museum collection, started with the recuperated silver objects that were found stored in Nazi Germany and were returned to Amsterdam in 1946. This spice tower became one of the prominent objects on display in the new Amsterdam Jewish Historical Museum that reopened its doors in July 1955.

    For comparison see a similar spice tower in the Victoria & Albert Museum, M434-1956. However this tower does not have an elaborately decorated pennant and misses the additional human figure on top.

    Also see further the spice tower in the Jewish Museum London, Barnett p.78 no. 410, with the figure on top but misses the corner figures. Catalogued as German, late seventeenth century, unmarked, bought in the Howitt collection sale, lot 16, Christies London, May 9, 1932.

    Special Notice

    Christie’s charges a premium to the buyer on the Hammer Price of each lot sold at the following rates: 29.75% of the Hammer Price of each lot up to and including €5,000, plus 23.8% of the Hammer Price between €5,001 and €400,000, plus 14.28% of any amount in excess of €400,001. Buyer’s premium is calculated on the basis of each lot individually.


    Saleroom Notice

    Please note the ! symbol is not correct in the printed catalogue. This lot is not imported from outside the EU.

    Therefore our standard buyer's premium of 29.75 of the Hammer Price up to and including Euro 5,000 plus 23.8 of the Hammerprice between Euro 5,001 and Euro 400,000 will be calculated.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN


    Literature

    Lion Morpurgo, E.A. Rodrigues Pereira, Joods Historisch Museum 1955, museum catalogue Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam, 1955, cat. Nr. 85, full page illustration.
    Julie-Marthe Cohen, Jelka Krvger (ed.), Gifts from the Heart: ceremonial objects from the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam, Amsterdam/Zwolle, 2004, pp. 13-30.
    Michael E. Keen, Jewish ritual art in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 1991, p. 72.
    R. D. Barnett, Catalogue of the Jewish Museum London, London, 1974, p. 78, no. 410, plate CXXII.
    Isaiah Shachar, The Jewish Year, Leiden, 1975, pp. 2-6, plate viii-ix.
    Vivian B. Mann, Treasures of the Jewish Museum, New York, 1986, p. 34.
    Chaya Benjamin, Towers of Spice, Exhibition catalogue, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1982, pp. 46-47.