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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Cup in the form of a shoe

late 16th century
Leather, with silver mounts
Overall: 5 3/8 × 8 1/8 in. (13.7 × 20.6 cm)
Metalwork-Silver In Combination
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.190.608a, b
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 521
Worlds apart from the rock crystal bird (see 17.190.534a, b), this unlikely vessel—called a blackjack—is similarly worked from a natural material: soft, pliable leather. The form was cut, sewn, and molded together, and then temporarily filled with molten pitch or resin to render it watertight. Elevating the lowly base material are silver mounts: the tiny bell would tinkle as the cup was used; the two figures on the lid struggle under the weight of an armorial shield bearing a triskelion, or triple-spiral motif. Leather shoe cups are traditionally associated with craft guilds (such as the shoemakers’), whose members passed them around as each drank allegiance to the guild.

[Elizabeth Cleland, 2017]
Baron Albert von Oppenheim , Cologne (until 1906; sale, April 13, 1906, no. 187; sold to Mr. Morgan); J. Pierpont Morgan , London and New York (1906–17; to MMA)
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