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Tankard with Silenus and bacchic revels

  • Object:

    Tankard

  • Place of origin:

    Augsburg (made)

  • Date:

    1651 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Straus, Bernhard (maker)
    Wickert, Andreas (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved ivory mounted in silver gilt

  • Museum number:

    4529-1858

  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 6, The Lisa and Bernard Selz Gallery, case CA6

Hercules in combat with the centaur Nessus is shown as a freestanding ivory group on the lid. Round the ivory drum of the tankard are carved mythological scenes: Venus and Cupid, Minerva, Ceres, the drunken Silenus supported by bacchantes, Triton, and Neptune and Amphitrite riding on a chariot. A moustachioed man in contemporary dress is also depicted, seemingly gesturing towards a statuette of Hercules in a niche; this may well be a self-portrait of the artist. He is next to Minerva, goddess of the arts, who protectively holds out her hand. Behind the figures is a rusticated stone archway. The metal mounts show auricular masks and foliate forms.

The tankard is signed on Neptune's chariot: 'Bernard Straus goldschmid fec.' and signed again and dated on the underside of the silver gilt lid: 'ANNO 1651. Bernard Straus. Goldschmidgesel, Von Marckdorf am Bodensee, Fecit, A. Vinde''. 'A. Vinde' is the abbreviation for 'Augusta Vindelicorum, the Latin name for Augsburg. 'Goldschmidgesel' should be translated as 'goldsmith's apprentice', and may imply that Strauss was learning to be a goldsmith at this point, and that possibly the lid pre-dates the tankard proper, given the slightly different form of signature on the ivory drum.

The Hercules and Centaur group on the lid seems to be an adaptation of Giambologna's monumental marble group, Hercules slaying a Centaur of c.1595-1600 in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence. Strauss probably knew this in a reduced bronze version, of which there were examples in German courts. The figures around the drum are ultimately inspired by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640).

This remarkable work is one of the great examples of baroque ivory carving in the collection, and a harmonious combination of sculpture and goldsmith’s work. The silver marks are those of Andreas I Wickert of Augsburg (1600-1661). Other ivory tankards with mounts by him are in the Badisches Landesmuseum, Karlsruhe, the Kunsthistorischesmuseum Vienna, the Staatliche Museen Kassel, the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin, the Schlossmuseum in Gotha, and the Hermitage in St Petersburg; a silver and silver gilt tankard by him is in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in Munich. The present tankard was also reproduced in an electrotype version by Franchi and Son in Clerkenwell, London in 1859.

Physical description

Hercules in combat with the centaur Nessus is shown as a freestanding ivory group on the lid (Hall 1980, pp. 152-3). Round the ivory drum of the tankard are carved mythological scenes: Venus and Cupid, Minerva, Ceres, the drunken Silenus supported by bacchantes, Triton, and Neptune and Amphitrite riding on a chariot. A moustachioed man in contemporary dress is also depicted, seemingly gesturing towards a statuette of Hercules in a niche; this may well be a self-portrait of the artist. He is next to Minerva, goddess of the arts, who protectively holds out her hand. Behind the figures is a rusticated stone archway. The metal mounts show auricular masks and foliate forms. A gilt winged putto is seen on the lid, and a bare-breasted female herm on the silver gilt handle.

The tankard is signed on Neptune's chariot: 'Bernard Straus goldschmid fec.' and on the underside of the silver gilt lid: 'ANNO 1651. Bernard Straus. Goldschmidgesel, Von Marckdorf am Bodensee, Fecit, A. Vinde''. 'A. Vinde' is the abbreviation for 'Augusta Vindelicorum, the Latin name for Augsburg. 'Goldschmidgesel' should be translated as 'goldsmith's apprentice', and may imply that Strauss was learning to be a goldsmith at this point, and that possibly the lid pre-dates the tankard proper, given the slightly different form of signature on the ivory drum. The lid inscription is now hidden beneath the metal mount.

Place of Origin

Augsburg (made)

Date

1651 (made)

Artist/maker

Straus, Bernhard (maker)
Wickert, Andreas (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Carved ivory mounted in silver gilt

Marks and inscriptions

'Bernard Straus goldschmid fec.' [and] 'ANNO 1651. Bernard Straus. Goldschmidgesel, Von Marckdorf am Bodensee, Fecit, A. Vinde'.

'Goldschmidgesel' should be translated as 'goldsmith's apprentice' [and may imply the Strauss was learning to be a goldsmith at this point, and that Possibly the lid pre-dates the tankard proper, given the slightly different form of signature on the ivory drum]

on Neptune's chariot [and] on the underside of the silver gilt lid
'A. Vinde' - is the abbreviation for 'Augusta Vindelicorum, the Latin name for Augsburg.

The Hercules and Nessus group seems to be an adaptation of Giambologna's monumental marble group, Hercules slaying a Centaur of about 1595-1600 in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence. Strauss probably knew this in a reduced bronze version, of which there were examples in German courts; the bronze and silver versions in Italian collections actually pre-dated the marble group (cf. Avery 1987, pp. 114-9). The figures around the drum are ultimately inspired by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640); similar figures of the drunken Silenus, derived from Rubens, are seen on ivory vessels by Georg Petel (1601/2-1634) in the Städtische Kunstsalmmlungen Augsburg and the Kunsthistorischesmuseum Vienna respectively (Seelig 2001, figs. 12 and 13).

A signed ivory tankard by Strauss is in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam (Leewenberg and Halsema-Kubes 1973, cat. no. 833 on p. 477), and a lidded goblet also signed by him is in the Kunsthistorischesmuseum, Vienna (Haag 2007, cat. no. 38 on pp. 114-5). 14

The silver marks are those of Andreas I Wickert of Augsburg. Other ivory tankards with mounts by him are in the Badisches Landesmuseum, Karlsruhe, the Kunsthistorischesmuseum Vienna, the Staatliche Museen Kassel, the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin, the Schlossmuseum in Gotha, and the Hermitage in St Petersburg; a silver and silver gilt tankard by him is in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in Munich (Seelig 2001, loc. cit.).

Dimensions

Height: 46.5 cm whole, Width: 29.2 cm, Depth: 19.7 cm, Height: 13.5 cm ivory group on lid, Height: 21 cm ivory drum

Object history note

This is one of the most magnificent examples of a characteristically German Baroque type of artefact. It is one of very few works signed by Strauss and the inscriptions provide much of the information known about him. The group on the lid showing Hercules slaying a Centaur is derived from Giambologna's celebrated marble sculpture (now in the Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence), which Strauss knew probably from a small bronze reduction, of which there were many at the German courts. The subjects round the sides include Venus and Cupid, Minerva (with helmet and spear), a man wearing contemporary costume and gesturing towards a statuette in a niche (possibly a self portrait by Strauss), the drunken Silenus supported by Bacchantes, Triton and Neptune and Amphitrite in a sea-chariot.

Bought for 200 in 1858 (vendor unrecorded). Formerly sold for 157 10s. at the Lord Kinnaird Sale (Charles, Baron Kinnaird (1780-1826), auction at Mr H. Phillips, 53 Lower Grosvenor Street, London, 4 and 5 March 1813, lot 28; subsequently in the collection of Philip Howard Esq., Corby Castle, Cumbria.

Historical context note

Ivory tankards were made in considerable numbers both in Flanders and in Germany during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Descriptive line

Tankard, carved ivory with silver and silver-gilt mounts, by Johann Bernhard Strauss and Andreas I Wickert, Germany (Augsburg), 1651

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Williamson, Paul, ed. European Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1996, pp. 136-7 (entry by Trusted)
Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1858. In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 28
Theuerkauff, C. "Zu drei Elfenbeinreliefs der Kirchberger Kunstkammer auf Schloss Neuenstein". Hofkunst in Hohenlohe, Vol. 44, p. 139, fig. 31, and p. 142 (Dept'l Article I v. 151)
Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. Part II. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1929, pp. 90, 91
Roth, Horvitz. L. (ed.). J. Pierpont Morgan, Collector…See catalogue entry in: Augsburger Barock, 15 June - 13 October, 1968, Augsburg
Seelig, L. "Zwei Augsburger Humpen mit der Darstellung des Trunkenen Silen nach Peter Paul Ruben's. In: Studien zur Europäischen Goldschmiedekunst des 14. bis 20. Jahrhunderts, 2001, pp. 51-74 (see p. 65, fig. 16 on p. 63)
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013, cat. no. 32

Materials

Ivory; Silver; Gold

Techniques

Carving; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Mythology; Figures; Bacchante

Categories

Sculpture; Myths & Legends; Drinking; Myths & Legends; Gender and Sexuality; Silver

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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