Ostrich egg flask

Unknown Maker

Not on view

In sixteenth-century Europe, ostrich eggs, like the Seychelles nut or the iridescent nautilus shell, were prized for their obscurity, their exotified rarity, and their status as wonders of nature. They were mounted by expert goldsmiths and integrated into elaborate drinking vessels and showpieces. Their status as luxury goods and curious collectibles made them a perfect addition to the Kunstkammern of the period. Part natural marvel, part virtuoso craftsmanship, objects like this were meant to impress and easily found their place within noble and royal collections. This ostrich egg has been transformed into a screw-top flask and mounted in silver gilt, with elegant, pierced-work details. With the restrained use of silver, the speckled surface of the eggshell is presented as the central feature of the object. Although strange and fragile, it has been transformed into a (putatively) useful object.

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