Animal-form cups were particularly popular in Germany and German speaking Switzerland and were used at corporation guild and club dinners by their wealthy members. It is possible that the staff and pomegranate held in the bear's paws are emblems of such a club.
Several cups modelled as bears have survived including a superb example formerly in the collection of Princess Salimah Aga Khan, by Hans auf der Burg, Nuremberg, circa 1600 (Christie's Geneva, 19 May 1988, lot 179). V. Laloux and P. Cruysmans, (Le Bestiaire des Orfèvres, Lausanne, 1994, p. 172), record a model of a chained bear holding fruit and foliage to its chest that was made in Strassburg by Diebolt Krug in circa 1570-1580, and was formerly in the collection of Louise de Vilmorin. A very similar example to this Strassburg cup and possibly also by Krug, although unmarked, was sold in these Rooms, 23 June 1999, lot 270.