Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Table decoration in the form of a peacock

Hungarian, Munkács
Silver, partly gilded
Height: 10 1/2 in. (26.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of The Salgo Trust for Education, New York, in memory of Nicolas M. Salgo, 2010
Accession Number:
2010.110.65a, b
Not on view
Festive drinking cups were produced in an astonishing range of animal forms, such as bears, rampant stags, owls, and unicorns, during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Usually the head could be removed—as is the case here—and both parts of the cup could be filled with an alcoholic beverage. As customs changed, their ceremonial purpose shifted and during the eighteenth century these objects were mainly seen as humorous table ornaments, comparable to porcelain statuettes. Peacock cups like this were typically made in Hungary. Any drink poured into its detachable head had to be drunk at once, since it cannot be set down while full. The partial gilding emphasizes the "eyes" on the peacock's tail feathers, symbols of pride.

Works of Art. Sale cat., Sotheby’s, London, December 8, 1983, p. 31, no. 93.
Judit H. Kolba. Hungarian Silver: The Nicolas M. Salgo Collection. London, 1996, p. 123, no. 101.

Elemér Kőszeghy. Magyarországi ötvösjegyek a középkortól 1867-ig / Merkzeichen der Goldschmiede Ungarns vom Mittelalter bis 1867. Budapest, 1936, nos. 1255 [town mark], 1256 [town mark].
A similar peacock-form table decoration or drinking cup was offered by Bonhams, London, July 9, 2015, no. 117.

[Wolfram Koeppe 2015]
Marking: In the feathers and on the rim of the base: 1]the town mark of Munkács for 1787 (unknown to Köszeghy) and 2] the unknown maker's initials "BZK"
Lord Walston ; Paul Wallraf ; [ sale, Sotheby's, London , December 8, 1983, lot 93; to Salgo ] ; Nicolas M. Salgo (from 1983) ; Salgo Trust for Education (until 2010; to MMA)
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