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A pair of German parcel-gilt and nielloed beakers
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A pair of German parcel-gilt and nielloed beakers

NUREMBERG, DATED 1643, MAKER'S MARK A UNICORN AND STAR

Details
A pair of German parcel-gilt and nielloed beakers
Nuremberg, dated 1643, maker's mark a unicorn and star
Tapering cylindrical on waisted base, each engraved and possibly nielloed with two emblematic scenes within German inscriptions and outer scroll and lobate cartouches, one beaker with fruit festoons with pendant fruit between, the other with similar festoons and fruit surmounted by birds, the rims with Latin inscriptions below the reeded borders, each engraved beneath the base with accollé coats-of-arms and the date 1643.
3in. (7.5cm.) high
9oz. (300gr.)
The arms are those of Starck of Nuremberg and Imhof of Bavaria (2)
Provenance
Anon Sale; Sotheby's Geneva, 30 November 1982, lot 252
Special notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

The beakers are engraved with the following scenes and inscriptions:
1a). A heart (presumably originally containing a cross, now erased) resting on an orb on its side within a rocky landscape within the inscriptions:-
Wer Christum lieben thut, u: weltlich freude hassen,
Der darffe sich gar wol, dess himmels schon anmasse.

(He who loves Christianity and who hates worldly pleasure
can rest assured that he is to obtain heaven)

1b). A heart enclosing an orb (the cross of which now erased) placed on rectangular table, with figures feasting at another table and a pavilion in the background within the inscriptions:-
Wer weltlich freude liebt, u: Christum setzt hindan,
Der Höllenpeine sich gewiss versichern kann.

(He who loves worldly pleasures above Christianity
Can rest assured that he will suffer the pains of hell).

The Latin inscriptions around the rim read:-
SIC ITUR AD ASTRA
SIC ITUR AD ORCUM

(This way one gets to the stars
This way one goes to hell)

2a). A stork feeding its young above a castle within the inscriptions:-
Der Storch sein Eltern trägt, ätzt, häget u : ernehrt
Hastu empfagen gutts, dankbar zu sein dich lehrt.

(The stork's parents carry, feed, cherish and nurture it,
Have you received goodness, it teaches you to be thankful)

2b). An eagle with a feathered arrow piercing its body and perched on
a branch within the inscriptions:-
Durch Adlers gfider wird der Pfeil in Ihn geiaget
So Schadet der offt dem, der Ihm nie hülff versaget
.
(Through the eagle's feathers the arrow is carried through it [the eagle]
So often he harms the one who had never denied him help)

The Latin inscriptions around the rim read
ACCEPTUM REDDIMUS OFFICIUM
HAEC GRATIA PRO MERITIS

(We fulfill an agreeable duty
These thanks are a reward for merits)

Another beaker of similar form, with the engraved emblematic scenes captioned in Latin and with the German inscription above, by the same maker, dated 1642 is in the Sammlung des Schweizerischen Landesmuseums Zürich (A. Gruber, Weltliches Silber, Zürich, 1977 p. 34 cat. no. 13). This beaker would appear to be the one recorded by Marc Rosenberg (Der Goldschmiede Merkzeichen, Frankfurt am Main, 1925, vol. 3, no. 4220 a).

A 'nesting' set of six tapering cylindrical beakers with a cover by Michael Müller, Nuremberg, dated 1621 are engraved with differing emblematic scenes and Latin and German inscriptions . They are in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (inv. nos. HG 11976-82 and discussed by C.-P. Warncke 'Allegorese als Gesellschaftsspiel' and H. H. Figge, 'Subtexte auf dem Nürnberger Bechersatz von 1621,' Anzieger des Germanischen Nationalmuseums, pp. 43-62 and pp.63-69 respectively).

Both the Müller set and the present beakers are clearly based on the popular emblematic books published in various German states in the late 16th and 17th Century. When these beakers were previously sold it was suggested that the design source was probably Franz Julius von dem Knesebeck's Dreiständige Sinnbilder zu Fruchtbringenden Nütze, und belieben der ergetzlichkeit, ausgefertiget durch den Geheimen, published in Brunswick in 1643, the year these beakers were made, but this is not the case. The scene of the eagle is taken from Joachim Camerarius' Symbolorum ac Emblematum Ethico-politocorum published in Nuremberg in 1585, 1590 and 1605 and reprinted in 1697.
(We are extremely grateful to Christian Hogrefe of the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel for the information on the design sources for this and the subsequent lot).
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