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  • Place of origin:

    Germany (South, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1526 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved mother of pearl, in a wood mount

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr T. Whitcombe Green

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 62, case 7

Semi-precious materials such as this were often associated with a particular geographical region and highly valued because of their rarity. Many of the religious objects were portable, as were the small portraits. They were often made near to the source of the material and then taken elsewhere. Count Schlick discovered an important silver mine in the Ore mountains in Germany.

Physical description

Bust of a Man, perhaps Graf Stephan Schlick of Passau (1487-1526). The head is bearded and depicted in profile facing left; the hair is covered by a close fitting embroidered cap and following the outline of the head is a wide-brimmed hat trimmed with tufts of ostrich-feather. The man wears a thin shirt with a high closed collar; the collar of the doublet is open and lies flat on the shoulder.

Place of Origin

Germany (South, made)


ca. 1526 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved mother of pearl, in a wood mount


Height: 4.5 cm, Width: 4 cm

Historical context note

In the late 16th century, collecting became popular amongst the nobility of Europe and many important collections were established at major courts. One of the largest of these Kunstkammern was established by Emperor Rudolf II at the Hradschin Palace in Prague; and other notable collections were in Vienna and Munich. These collections attempted to encompass the wonders of the natural world (naturalia) often carved or embellished with other materials. They also collected objects created by the artistic and scientific genius of man (arteficialia and scientifica). These collections included hundreds of pieces of gold, silver, bronze, rock-crystal and colored precious stones, ivory and mother-of-pearl.
During this period, European voyages of exploration provided increased access to exotic materials such as mother-of-pearl, from warm seas where it was present as the iridescent lining of shells of certain marine moluscs. The raw material was transported to carving centres in Europe where they were shaped and then diseminated to collectors.

Descriptive line

Head of a man perhaps Graf Stephan Schlick, mother of pearl relief, South German, ca. 1526.

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

Jahrbuch der preussischen Kunstsammlungen. 57, 1936. pp. 35-36.
Cf. Königliche Museen zu Berlin. Beschreibung der Bildwerke der christlichen Epochen. 4. Die deutschen Bildwerke und die der anderen cisalpinen Länder. Berlin : Reimer, 1910. no. 942.
Cf. Bange, E. F. ed. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Die Bildwerke des Deutschen Museums. Zweitter Band. Die Bildwerke in Bronze und in Anderen Metallen. Berlin and Leipzig, 1923. no. 1542
Cf. Bange, E. F. Die Kleinplastik der deutschen Renaissance in Holz und Stein. Firenze; Munich, 1928.

Labels and date

About 1526

Count Schlick discovered an important silver mine in the Ore Mountains in Germany.

Southern German
Mother of Pearl

Given by Mr T. Whitcombe Green [2005]

Production Note

Bust of a Man, perhaps Count Stephan Schlick of Passau (Born 24.12.1487 Schlackenwerth (today Ostrov), Westböhmen - died 29.8.1526 Battle of Mohács (Hungary). A similar mother of pearl relief, inscribed with Graf Stephan's name, is in the Staatliche Museen Berlin.


Mother of pearl


Portraits; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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