Relief mounted as a mirror frame

Wenzel Jamnitzer German

Not on view

Wenzel Jamnitzer was the greatest Mannerist goldsmith in the German-speaking areas. The city of Nuremberg appointed him a coin and seal die-cutter in 1543 and, in 1552, master of the city mint (Clara Rosenberger, 17.190.468), thus recognizing him as the foremost among all Nuremberg goldsmiths. As an imperial goldsmith to the Habsburg court, he served no fewer than four emperors. Much of his fame was based on highly inventive objects and mounted naturalia for princely curiosity cabinets. The design of this relief frame, with personifications of four of the seven liberal arts-Arithmetic, Geometry, Perspective, and Architecture-was adopted from the title page of Jamnitzer's treatise Perspectiva corporum regularium (1568). The ovoid mirror with faceted edges is distinguished by a crowning lion in repoussé silver-a clear reference to Jamnitzer's maker's mark, the letter "W" above a lion's head. A portrait of the artist or of a princely first owner may have been mounted in the oval below. The object was part of a precious silver book cover that was subsequently reconfigured as a mirror. The relief was originally most likely the cover for a parade edition of Jamnitzer's book. It could have framed a portrait of Jamnitzer himself or its first owner, executed in a different medium such as enamel, miniature portrait painting, or exotic materials. One such edition of the famous treatise is recorded in Dresden in 1587, where it was kept in the Kunstkammer of the Elector of Saxony.

Relief mounted as a mirror frame, Wenzel Jamnitzer (German, Vienna 1507/8–1585 Nuremberg), Gilded silver, ebony, mirror plate, German, Nuremberg

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