Sale 6727, Lot 162
An important German silver-gilt double cup
Mark of Hans Petzolt, Nuremberg, dated 1596
Estimate: £150,000-250,000

By Anthony Phillips

The three pieces of silver-gilt from the Gutmann collection are, quite simply, superlative. Each is by a highly significant maker and of the greatest artistic importance.

In 1912 the distinguished art historian Otto von Falke wrote in The Art Collection, Eugen Gutmann that the ewer by Johannes Lencker and the cup by the Ulm maker, Hans Ludwig Kienle (now written as Kienlin), demonstrate the style of the High Renaissance at its highest perfection.

More recently, John Hayward's classic work, Virtuoso Goldsmiths and the Triumph of Mannerism, 1540-1620, calls the lithe nymph on the back of the triton that forms the body of Lencker's ewer 'the epitome of Mannerist sophistication'.

It is a sublime work of both the sculptor's and the goldsmith's art and one of the greatest pieces to be made in Augsburg at the start of the second quarter of the 17th century when the city was supplanting Nuremberg in producing the finest silver in Germany, if not all of Europe.

The partly gilded Kienlin cup, formed as a nude male on a galloping horse, is proudly signed by the maker and dated 1630. It is also of great beauty. Indeed, Falke noted that it 'had a touch of Leonardo's genius about it'. It is most certainly proof of just how important an artistic centre Ulm, only 30 miles or so west of Augsburg, was at this period. Few, if any, pieces of comparable importance made in this city survive.

The third silver-gilt item, the wonderful double cup by Hans Petzolt, one of the greatest Nuremberg makers working at the end of the 16th century, is a perfect example of the short-lived return to the Gothic style of a hundred years earlier.

This use of the Gothic style with added Renaissance ornament was an unusual artistic development, which Petzolt seems largely to have introduced. Made for Jacob Starck of Nuremberg and his wife, Elisabeth in 1596, the double cup eventually became part of the distinguished collection of Baron Karl von Rothschild of Frankfurt, before being acquired by Eugen Gutmann.

Eugen Gutmann's silver collection was, in its entirety, an astonishing achievement, clearly put together by a collector with a quite extraordinary eye for the best.

Anne Webber, historian & co-chair of the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, spoke recently at Christie's New York about The Gutmann Collection.

These three breathtaking pieces of silver survive as a testimonial to the genius and passion of father and son as collectors.

Anthony Phillips, International Department Head, Christie's Silver Department

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