Design for a Large Goblet

Attributed to Jost Amman Swiss

Not on view

The southern part of modern-day Germany was an important center for gold- and silversmith’s work during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Today only a fragment of the many splendid vessels, plates, caskets, and sculptural centerpieces, created for numerous princes, government officials, and wealthy merchants, survives. Even rarer are drawings related to this industry. This sixteenth-century to-scale design for a large lidded goblet or cup was preserved as a result of its early storage in an album. More than likely, it was (meant to be) executed in silver. The knob and bottom part of the cup are decorated in high relief. The decoration on the knob is characterized by horse heads set in strapwork, surrounded by fruit garlands. Above, two purely decorative handles have been placed which culminate in elegant hybrid creatures. The base of the cup shows a frieze with lions caught in strapwork, combined with garlands of fruit. The lid of the cup is crowned by the fully three-dimensional figure of a man leaning on a long spear, accompanied by a dog, which indicates that the goblet was meant as a hunting trophy. A surprisingly large part of the surface of the vessel is left undecorated, which is uncharacteristic for the time. It is unclear whether this was how the finished piece was meant to look or whether these surfaces might have been intended for engraved decorations. Such decorations were not part of the initial forging and sculpting process (and therefore perhaps not depicted), but were very common on silver goblets of the period. The design has been cautiously attributed to the Swiss artist Jost Amman or his direct circle, but a related vessel has not been identified.

Design for a Large Goblet, Attributed to Jost Amman (Swiss, Zurich before 1539–1591 Nuremberg), Pen and black ink, washes in several gray tones

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