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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Diana and the Stag

Joachim Friess (ca. 1579–1620, master 1610)
ca. 1620
German, Augsburg
Partially gilded silver, enamel, jewels (case); iron, wood (movement)
Overall: 14 3/4 × 9 1/2 in. (37.5 × 24.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
Not on view
This object was prized, though not unique; other versions survive, all targeted at the wealthiest clientele. A wind-up mechanism once moved the group forward on hidden wheels, making it vibrate as if with life. Uniting modern technology, precious casework, and visual appeal, automatons were celebrated as a novelty entertainment for guests of the most moneyed classes. Removing the stag’s head reveals a drinking vessel; the diner in front of whom the piece stopped had to drain the cup. The Habsburgs bolstered their uneasy truce with the infringing Ottoman Empire through sizable gifts of automatons like this.

[Elizabeth Cleland, 2017]
Marking: [1] Pinecone (Augsburg town mark in use between 1620 and 1625);
[2] Roman capitals I F within a rectangle (cameo) (maker's mark of Joachim Friess or Fries, born in Lubeck about 1579 master goldsmith in Augsburg in 1610, died 1620);
[3] A Roman capital B below a crown and within a shield (cameo), unidentified;
[4] A Roman capital E below a crown, and within a shaped reserve (cameo) (French guarantee mark for Foreign silver in use between 1809 and 1819);

Location of marks:
[1] On the neck and inside the neck, and on the base;
[2] Twice on the neck, on top of the base, under the front feet of the deer;
[3] Inside and on the outside of the neck;
[4] Inside the neck
Mr. Eugen Gutmann , Berlin (before 1907) ; J. Pierpont Morgan (until 1917; to MMA)
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