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Post Lot Text
A TURNED IVORY CUP AND COVER
SOUTH GERMAN, 17TH CENTURY
With an elaborate finial with flowers on a lobed lid and conforming body, stem and foot; very minor shrinkage cracks, losses and repairs
The process of carving in ivory has, since time in memoriam, been a central medium for artist expression. The process flourished throughout antiquity, the Byzantine and European mediaeval periods and led up to a golden age of production in the early 17th century when virtuoso carvers working for the European courts produced wondrous artefacts that best exploited the natural qualities of the material. These artefacts, commonly in the form of turned cups, towers and figures were created for the princely kunstkammern which came into being in the mid 16th century. The principle of these collections was that the universe - a macrocosm - would be reflected in the collection as a microcosm. As such, the universe could be represented by the naturalia created by God - all kinds of zoological, botanical and geological material - and by the man-made artificialia - an example of which would be the lobed ivory cup offered here.
This genius creation, exceptional for its size and for the juxtaposition between the fineness of the floral finial and the exaggerated lobes to the body, seems to have no other equivalent apart from a similar, smaller and less fine, cup offered in Christie's, London, 10 November 1980, lot 42. Both cups share the same unusual repeating raised lobes to both the lid and foot, and the densely packed hemispheres to the body. While it is likely that a design-source could have been the inspiration for the carving of both these cups, it is highly plausible that the ultimate inspirations for their unusual form are the silver-gilt lobed double-cups being produced in Nuremberg in the early 17th century. A very comparable example by Andreas Rosa dated to 1599-1602 is in the Staatliche Kunstsammlung, Dresden (Princely Splendour, loc. cit.) and displays both the raised lobes to the foot and the large bulbous hemispheres to the body.