Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Balance standard

  • Place of origin:

    Nuremberg (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1550-1600 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gilt bronze, cast and chiselled

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs M. Russell

  • Museum number:

    M.121-1953

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 63, The Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery, case 6

Goldsmiths used a balance standard to weigh out amounts of silver and gold in the workshop. This one has a stem supporting an arm in the shape of a dragon poised on a central pivot, with holes for supporting weights at one end and a hook for hanging the weighing pan at the other.

The base crawls with snakes, a frog, snail and twisted tree roots, possibly inspired by the innovative techniques of the Nuremberg goldsmith, Wenzel Jamnitzer, who made silver casts of real insects, shells and plants. The baby clutching a skull is perhaps a symbol of the vanity of human life, a much-depicted theme of the period.

Physical description

Gilt bronze with circular base, cast and chiselled with a putto, its hand resting on a skull, the standard composed of three figures with vases between, the figure of a crowned dragon on top with a hook

Place of Origin

Nuremberg (possibly, made)

Date

1550-1600 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Gilt bronze, cast and chiselled

Marks and inscriptions

Unmarked

Dimensions

Height: 31 cm, Width: 10 cm, Diameter: 7 cm

Object history note

Acquisition RF: 53/3486
Russell Gift (Bought from the Rosenheim Collection)

Exhibitions:
Burlington Arts Club, 1906

Sold Sotheby's May 9 - 11/1923, Lot 400; a similar example in the Cleveland Museum is complete with scales. See Helen S. Foote 'Goldsmiths' scales in gilt bronze' Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, Vol. XLI (1954) pp. 26-28

Descriptive line

Scientific instrument

Labels and date

Silver Gallery:
Goldsmiths used a balance standard to weigh out amounts of silver and gold in the workshop. This one has a stem supporting an arm in the shape of a dragon poised on a central pivot, with holes for supporting weights at one end and a hook for hanging the weighing pan at the other. The base crawls with snakes, a frog, snail and twisted tree roots, possibly inspired by the innovative techniques of the Nuremberg goldsmith, Wenzel Jamnitzer, who made casts of insects, shells and plants. The baby clutching a skull is perhaps a symbol of the vanity of human life, a much-depicted theme of the period. [26/11/2002]

Production Note

Possibly inspired by the work of the Jamnitzer workshop in Nuremberg

Subjects depicted

Snail; Dragons; Frog (amphibian); Snake (animal); Tree

Categories

Metalwork; Tools & Equipment; Science

Collection

Metalwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.