Jacob Schenauer became a master of the Augsburg guild in 1582 and died in 1608. Among his works, recorded by Helmut Seling (op. cit. vol. II, pls. 36 and 120), are the silver-gilt mounts of a magnificent twenty-five pipe organ, marked for 1590-1594, in the Reiche Chapel of the Rezidenz, Munich, and a silver-gilt covered cup with stem somewhat reminiscent of that of the present example. The latter dates from 1602-1606 and is in the Bavarian National museum (inv.no. 59/325).
Of particular relevance is a silver-gilt tazza by Schenauer of apparently identical design to the present example (Seling, op. cit. 975.0110e) in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (inv. no. 533-1874). It is dated c.1580-c.1590 and the centre of the bowl is chased with Diana and Actaeon. Although the two tazzas are of very similar height, the diameter of the bowl of the Victoria & Albert Museum example is about 3 cm. larger. Underneath the museum example is a plaque engraved with a coat-of-arms and inscription ‘H.C.E.PF.ZV.AESH UND.H.STOLL’. It is interesting to note that both tazzas appear to have been re-gilt in the 19th Century and possibly appeared on the market at roughly the same time. The museum tazza came from the collection of Joseph Bond who died in 1886 while the present lot is frst recorded in 1897. There is a strong possibility that both tazzas were originally from a set, in varying sizes, featuring scenes from classical mythology.
The Design Source
The brilliant chasing of the central plaque of the Judgement of Paris has been described as demonstrating 'exceptional mastery of technique and is probably the work of a specialist' (J. Hayward, op. cit. p.379). It is clearly after a drawing for the plaquette of the Judgement of Paris which survives in the Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin (Inv. no. KdZ 2119). This drawing is signed 'P. . . V.V.N.' Theodor Hampe in 1916, K. Pechstein in 1979, H. Müller, (op. cit, p. 158, notes) and, most recently, H. Seling (op. cit.) suggest that the initials stand for Paul Vlindt Von Nürnberg.', i.e. Paul Flindt the Younger (1567-1630). However reservations have been expressed as his signature is normally P.V.N.
Paul Flindt II ( b. 1567) became a master of the Nuremberg guild in 1601 though his collected designs for silver were published from 1592 or 1593. The dating of the present tazza and presumably that of the Diana and Actaeon tazza in the Victoria and Albert Museum are based on Helmut Seling's Die Kunst der Augsburger Goldschmiede, 1529-1868 published in 1980, p. 18, no. 14. It should be noted however in his later work op.cit. that Seling shows the Augsburg pineapple town mark in a circle in use no later than 1586 though this may well be incorrect.
The Renaissance Tazza
In many cases tazzas were frequently commissioned in sets of at least half a dozen although the fifty-four that survive in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence are obviously quite exceptional (H. Seling, op. cit. vol. II, pls.199-205 etc.). Ordered by Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau, Archbishop of Salzburg (1587-1612), thirty-six by the Augsburg maker Paul Hübner were purchased in 1590 and a further eighteen, of which a dozen were also by Hübner and six probably by Kornelius Erb, were added four years later. The central plaques were chased with various scenes from the Old Testament and ones representing the twelve months, eight cardinal virtues and the four elements, etc. As with the present tazza, Haywood suggests that the chased scenes in the von Raitenau examples were in all probability by a specialist chaser working for a number of goldsmiths (op. cit., pp. 223-4).
Such sets not only served as magnificent display plate on a buffet but, of course, also had a functional purpose. A contemporary painting of ‘The Burghers of Bruges’ dated 1575, by the Flemish artist Antoon Claeissens (circa1536-1613), demonstrate how they could be used both to hold drink, in spite of their somewhat impractical form, and also as stands for fruit on the dining table.
A century or so ago this superb Renaissance tazza was part of the wonderful collection, or rather collections, formed by the German banker Eugen Gutmann (1840-1925). Apart from Old Master paintings, it included Renaissance jewellery, gold-mounted hardstone objects, bronzes, majolica, watches, miniatures and 18th century gold boxes- all areas pursued by the Rothschild families in Europe, Julius Wernher in England and J. Pierpont Morgan in America among others. However, it was in the field of European and particularly German Renaissance silver that the Gutmann collection truly excelled.
Other pieces from the Gutmann silver collection that have appeared on the market include the very beautiful silver-gilt ewer in the form of a nude nereid seated on a triton by Johannes Lencker I, Augsburg, 1625-30, an important gothic-style double cup by Hans Petzolt, Nuremberg, dated 1596 and an exceptional parcel-gilt cup in the form of a nude male rider on a rearing stallion by Hans Ludwig Kienlin, Ulm, dated 1630. These were sold by Christie’s London (11 June 2003, lots 161-163) and are now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Chicago Art Institute respectively. Also formerly in the Gutmann Collection was a very rare pair of silver globe cups by Abraham Drentwett, Augsburg, 1695-1699 (Christie’s Paris, 13 April 2010, lot 98) now in a private collection.
The history of the Gutmann collection is discussed by Anne Webber in her article, The Gutmann Collection in the Christie’s London catalogue (op. cit., pp. 142-147). A more detailed and recent account of the family history is given by Simon Goodman, The Orpheus Clock: The Search for my Family’s Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis, Simon and Schuster, 2015.
The German 16th and 17th Century silver pieces mentioned above together with the present tazza, are unquestionably among the most important such items to appear at auction this century. They alone firmly establish Eugen Gutmann as one of the greatest collectors of German Renaissance and Baroque silver. With museum quality objects on virtually every page the catalogue of the seventy works of art, which comprise the collection, is astonishing. In his introduction to the Art Collection Eugen Gutmann published in 1912, the distinguished art historian Otto von Falke wrote of the Renaissance jewellery and European silver that the list of its makers, ‘the breadth of scope and multiplicity of form, makes (the collection) worthy to rank beside the treasure-chambers of princes.’
Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza
The Judgement of Paris tazza was subsequently acquired by Gutmann’s fellow collector Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza(1875-1947) and inherited by his son Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza (1921-2002). Their collections, formed from the 1920s onwards, were as equally wide-ranging as the Gutmann Collection. Whilst best known for Old Master paintings, the European silver, gold boxes, Renaissance jewellery and Faberge were of considerable importance. The silver collection is broader than that of Gutmann covering work from England, France, Hungary and the Netherlands as well as Germany and ranging in date from the 16th to the early 19th centuries.
The silver was catalogued by Hannelore Müller in 1986 (op. cit.) while Anna Somers Cocks’ and Charles Truman’s The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection-Renaissance jewels, gold boxes and objets de vertu was published two years earlier.
The acquisition of the Schenauer tazza by two of the greatest collectors in the last century of German Renaissance silver testifies to its importance, beauty and refinement.