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A rare Swiss parcel-gilt silver cup

BIEL, CIRCA 1690, MAKER'S MARK PR, POSSIBLY FOR PETER ROTHER

Details
A rare Swiss parcel-gilt silver cup Biel, circa 1690, maker's mark PR, possibly for Peter Rother On domed circular base, the stem formed as a cast and chased Roman soldier wearing elaborate armour and helmet and holding a spear, between applied scroll foliage, the hexafoil bowl repoussé and chased with a band of running flowers and scrolling foliage, marked on bowl 22 cm. (8.3/4 in.) high 278 gr. (9 oz.)

Lot Essay

Although a small town Biel or Bienne, near the lake of the same name was wealthy enough to attract fine silversmiths to produce and sell objects of high quality. Nevertheless silver made in Biel is extremely rare. The town itself was orientated towards the major centres of Basle and Strasburg and its silversmiths were trained as apprentice in the workshops of both these towns on the Rhine.

It is interesting to note that the form of this cup which appears to have originated in Holland was copied in other cities down the Rhine such as Cologne, Frankfurt, Strasburg and Basle in the second half of the 17th century.

The stem figure on this cup, formed as Roman soldier in richly decorated armour, appears to be taken directly from the statue representing Munatius Plancus, the legendary Roman founder of the town of Basle. The figure is also related to late 16th century statues ornamenting Swiss street fountains which represent Saint Mauritius. The repoussé flowers on the cup are of the finest quality and are based on Flemish and Dutch botanical books of the first half, and engravings of the second half, of the 17th century by L. Heckenauer the younger (active 1679-1704) and J.C. Reuttiman (active 1676-1691)

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