Chalices, goblets between the 15th and the 17th centuries


Hungarian masterpieces in the museums of the world…

I thought it would be appropriate to show you some masterpieces from the period to demonstrate the richness of the culture of the Hungarian Kingdom and the Transylvanian Principality…

The experts of the Metropolitan Museum say this chalice is from Southeastern Europe but I presume it is from the Hungarian kingdom or more precisely, from Transylvania. The description of the Museum is below:

Date: 1462
Medium: Gilded silver, filigree enamel, pearls
Dimensions:Overall: 8 7/16 x 5 1/2 in. (21.5 x 14 cm)
diam. of cup: 4 3/16 in. (10.6 cm)

High-ranking church officials would have used this flamboyant Gothic chalice on special occasions, and the object’s colorful and glittering appearance would have been in divine harmony with the multicolored sunlight coming through the stained glass windows. The grandeur of the delicate filigree enameling became associated with the term “modo transilvano”, or, “in the Transylvanian fashion.”

Along with bejeweled examples, ostentatiously colorful, enameled chalices, such as this one, were the pride of church treasuries in Central and Southeastern Europe and Northern Italy, including Venice, which had a common border with the fifteenth-century Hungarian Kingdom. The majority of ecclesiastical silver was destroyed during the Reformation in the sixteenth- century. The chalice bears the date 1462 and names the otherwise unknown donor Nicolas Cynowec. The object itself is equally illustrious as its distinguished provenance, from the collection of Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild in Vienna.

Chalice, 1460-1480, Hungary

This chalice is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, but presently is not on view. 

Medium: Cloisonné enamel, silver gilt; 

Dimensions: Overall: 9 3/8 x 5 3/8 x 5 in. (23.8 x 13.7 x 12.7 cm) cup: 3 3/8 x 4 3/16 in. (8.6 x 10.6 cm)

The Latin inscription on the bowl identifies the owner as John Benedict of Breslau. Around 1462 he was preaching in the city of Kassa (Kaschau, Kosice) in Upper Hungary, where this chalice was presumably made. The goldsmith technique of using filigree and enamel originated in Italy and was adopted elsewhere.

Chalice, mid-15th century, Hungary

Here is the description, given by the Metropolitan Museum where you can view it:
Chalice, mid-15th century, is from Central European (Hungary)
Date: mid-15th century
Geography: Possibly made in Hungary
Culture: Central European

Medium: Silver, partly gilded, glass, semiprecious stones(?), with filigree and another enameling
Dimensions:Overall: 8 1/2 x 5 3/16 in. (21.6 x 13.1 cm) diam. of cup: 4 7/16 in. (11.2 cm)

Credit Line: Gift of The Salgo Trust for Education, New York, in memory of Nicolas M. Salgo, 2010
“The two Gothic chalices from the Salgo gift were both formerly in the collections of Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild in Vienna and Thomas F. Flannery in Chicago. Salgo prized these works because most similar vessels are still part of ecclesiastical treasuries.
Repairs to and replacements on this object were inevitable due to its age and the delicacy of the enamel and other fragile materials.
A fall may have damaged the upper part, including the gilded pierced border above the basket as well as the cup, which no longer fits tidily. A Hungarian mark dating from 1800 to 1828 could have been made by a proud goldsmith who restored the chalice.”


A Double Cup, ca. 1600

It is in the Metropolitan Museum, too. They say: Culture: Hungarian; Medium: Gilded silver; Dimensions: Overall: 11 x 2 3/4 x 2 3/4 in. (28 x 7 x 7 cm) Classification: Metalwork-Silver

Credit Line: Gift of The Salgo Trust for Education, New York, in memory of Nicolas M. Salgo, 2010

Both parts of this double cup have tall lips that fit into one another. The cups can be stacked and displayed as decorative objects when not in use. The double cup was a form produced only north of the Alps, and these ceremonial items served frequently as wedding gifts. The scrollwork and cherub ornament can be directly related to prints by Paulus Flindt (German, 1567–1611) His designs, published in Nuremberg and Vienna in various editions, were among the most influential decorative sources for European goldsmithing around 1600.

Judit H. Kolba. Hungarian Silver: The Nicolas M. Salgo Collection. London, 1996, p. 138, no. 116.

Eva Toranová. Goldschmiedekunst in der Slowakei. Translated by Helene Katrinaková. Hanau, 1982, p. 96, no. 178.
A similar double cup was sold at auction by Van Ham in Cologne, on November 15, 2014, no. 1350.
A cup with a similar vasiform stem was sold by Dr. Fischer Kunstauktionen in Heilbronn, on May 12, 2012, no. 583.

Source: Wolfram Koeppe 2015

A goblet from Transylvania (about 1500)

In the Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest

The former possession of the Reformed church of Körtvélyes (Szatmár county) was acquired by the Museum of Applied Arts from Henrik Egger’s collection. It is an early representation of the so-called Transylvanian flower Renaissance style that became popular at the end of the 15th century.

The late Gothic shape is reflected by the structure and the proportions of the elongated, pear-shaped body. Its sectioned stem, its central part, and the rim of the mouth feature open-worked, applied ornaments: a lily and leaf rings made of white silver. On its bottom, chiseled initials – HP.D. – can be found.

Dimensions: height: 29 cm; base diameter: 13,4 cm; weight: 555,5 g

Standing cup, early 17th century (Metropolitan Museum)

Date: early 17th century
Culture: possibly Hungarian
Medium: Gilded silver
Dimensions: Overall: 9 1/16 x 3 5/8 in. (23 x 9.2 cm)
Classification: Metalwork-Silver
Credit Line: Gift of The Salgo Trust for Education, New York, in memory of Nicolas M. Salgo, 2010

Related vessels from Augsburg or Nuremberg date between 1580 and 1620. Standing cups like this one are often depicted in still-life paintings and in views of ceremonial buffets or stepped sideboards. These images underline the prestige of this type of drinking vessel, characterized by tapering sides, a waisted domed foot, and a baluster stem. Many of these cups have lids, though there is no sign that this example ever had one. Having served a secular function, standing cups might quite often be later donated to Protestant churches to be used for communion. A base metal weight has been added to this example to give it extra stability, perhaps an indication of its change in function.

A goblet from Transylvania, 17th century

It is a gilded goblet from the middle of the 17th century (1664-1665). It was made in the Transylvanian Principality by a German Saxon master called Marcus Schoppel who lived in Brassó /Brasov / Kronstadt / Kruhnen. The goblet is 17cm high and its width is 7.7cm on the top. It is on display in the Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest.

A goblet with a lid, 17th-century

Dimensions: height: 33,6 cm, base diameter: 9,9 cm, opening diameter: 7,8 cm, weight: 448,4 g,

It is in the Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest.

A glass cup, a so-called Humpen (beer stein), depicts a fight between Turkish and Hungarian soldiers (1612)

Techniques: blown; painted in enamel; Place of production: Hungary; It can be found in the Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest.

Dimensions: height: 28,8 cm; opening diameter: 12,2 cm; base diameter: 22,2 cm;

The “glass” used for drinking beer or wine is molded by blowing and decorated with colored enamel paint and a hot-formed glass fiber decoration on the base. The shape of the vessel is cylindrical, with a slightly inwardly curving mouth rim.

The ‘cup’ is decorated on both sides with a depiction of a battle between a Hungarian and a Turkish soldier, one side bearing the date 1612. In its figurative design, the Humpen closely follows the patterns of the Rhineland, but its subject matter makes it likely that it was made in Hungarian territory.

The date of manufacture, the material, and the decoration of the object make it a so-called ‘Waldglas’ (forest glass), brownish or greenish in color, often bubbling or banded with impurities. The French term “verre de fougere” (fern glass) refers to the same type of glass. They are usually decorated with colored enamel, and in less technically developed areas with cold painting.

A Golden Cup from Transylvania, 17th century (British Museum)

The cup is in an excellent state of preservation, apart from a little damage to the equestrian figure of the Turk (on the cover) and some minor losses of enamel on the cover and on the eight jewels sewn to the sides of the bowl and the four jewels sewn to the sides of the foot.

Height: 19 centimeters (total); Diameter: 11.7 centimeters (cover) Weight: 766 grams (total)

The bowl is covered in gold brocade, embroidered with seed pearls, and set with brooches and gems. Its richness identifies it as Transylvanian. It was made when the Ottoman Turks controlled most of Hungary, apart from mountainous Transylvania. The courts of Dresden and Vienna had a particular taste for this kind of exotic jeweled work.

Curator’s Description:
Standing cup and cover; gold; enameled and jeweled; outside of bowl and foot covered with a ground of gold thread on canvas foundation; on the bowl: four lyre-shaped garlands of seed pearls laid on a silver thread; quatrefoil ornament in openwork high relief within each garland, each with a central diamond, four pearls, and enameled petals; between the garlands, four aigrette-shaped ornaments of similar style;

The upper and lower edge of the bowl: a row of pearls; the foot is ornamented similarly with gold thread, pearls, and cartouches, enameled and jeweled with rubies and diamonds; the bottom of the bowl and lower part of the foot: is applied borders of scrollwork, enameled and set with rubies, diamonds, and pearls; cover ornamented with applied plates of scroll design, enameled and set with four rubies, twelve square table diamonds, and eight pearls; center: raised stand with four rubies and enameled mounted figure of a Saracen with a lance; inside: gold medal of Rudolph II, bust to right, bare head with ruff, wearing armor and Golden Fleece; inscribed.

This object was collected and bequeathed to the British Museum by Ferdinand Anselm Rothschild.

Standing cup (half of a double cup)

It is in the Metropolitan Museum. They say: Maker: Michael Czikos de Tarcal (active 1601–12) Culture: Hungarian, Kassa; Medium: Silver; Dimensions: Overall: 5 3/4 x 2 3/4 x 2 3/4 in. (14.6 x 7 x 7 cm)

Classification: Metalwork-Silver

Credit Line: Gift of The Salgo Trust for Education, New York, in memory of Nicolas M. Salgo, 2010

The punched intersecting lines on this silver cup are inspired by the Renaissance glass pattern reticello (meaning netlike), in which narrow opaque white glass rods form a fine lattice design with tiny air bubbles at the center of each diamond. In metalwork, the intersecting lines are punched with a light-catching dot. The tall lip indicates that the cup was originally one half of a double cup, like an intact pair in the Museum’s collection, acc. no. 2010.110.68a, b. When displayed, its pair would be placed upside down on top of it like an enormous lid.

Detail of a Standing cup, early 17th century, Hungarian

Catalog of Fine European Silver. Sale cat., Sotheby’s, Geneva, November 10, 1981, p. 67, no. 170.
Judit H. Kolba. Hungarian Silver: The Nicolas M. Salgo Collection. London, 1996, p. 35, no. 13.

János Visegrádi. “Egyházi ötvösművek Zemplén vármegyéből.” Múzeumi és könyvtári értesítő 6 (1912), p. 30.
Elemér Kőszeghy. Magyarországi ötvösjegyek a középkortól 1867-ig / Merkzeichen der Goldschmiede Ungarns vom Mittelalter bis 1867. Budapest, 1936, nos. 813 [town mark], 869 [maker’s mark].
A Viennese standing cup with a similar decoration was with Galerie Neuse (Silber. Dealer’s cat. Text by Bernhard Heitmann. Bremen, 1994, pp. 18–9, no. 7).

Source: Wolfram Koeppe 2015

Coconut cup, ca. 1650, Transylvanian late-Renaissance

Maker: Johannes Fridericus Benedick (active ca. 1632–51)
(Metropolitan Museum)
Culture: Transylvanian-Saxon, Nagyszeben (Sibiu, Hermannstadt)
Medium: Gilded silver, coconut, turquoise
Dimensions:Height: 7 3/16 in. (18.3 cm)
Classification: Metalwork-Silver

Credit Line: Gift of The Salgo Trust for Education, New York, in memory of Nicolas M. Salgo, 2010
The hunting scene engraved on the lip may refer to the cup’s use after hunting trips when a welcome drink was offered to the most prestigious guests. The decoration is inspired by Virgil Solis’s prints, which were available to craftsmen in pattern books. By adding turquoise, the goldsmith catered to the local taste of the Ottoman. Marked coconut cups from the Hungarian/Transylvanian region are extremely rare. Of the twenty cups preserved at the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest only one is marked.

Standing cup, ca. 1670

It can be found in the Metropolitan Museum. Here is their description:

Maker: Georgius May I (active ca. 1655–84)
Date: ca. 1670
Culture: Transylvanian-Saxon, Brassó
Medium: Gilded silver
Dimensions: Overall: 9 1/8 x 5 in. (23.2 x 12.7 cm)
Classification: Metalwork-Silver
Credit Line: Gift of The Salgo Trust for Education, New York, in memory of Nicolas M. Salgo, 2010

The dolphin, a symbol of a long life, is also an attribute of Venus, goddess of love, as is the shell which is evoked by the form of the wine bowl. In ancient mythology, the dolphin is also a companion of Bacchus, the god of wine and erotic ecstasy (Wolfram Koeppe. Die Lemmers-Danforth Sammlung Wetzlar. Heidelberg, 1992, pp. 444 and 452, nos. GO 11, GO 33; Wolfram Koeppe. “Möbel und Schaustücke” in Liselotte von der Pfalz. Madame am Hofe des Sonnenkönigs. Exh. cat. Heidelberg, 1996, pp. 188 and 263). The cup’s form and imagery allude to the dangers of living in a war-torn region and celebrating love and a long, prosperous journey through life. The sophisticated program and quality of the craftsmanship suggest that the maker traveled through South Germany, where comparable vessels were made in Ulm and Augsburg.

Detail of the Standing cup, ca. 1670
Hungarian, Brassó, 

Magnificent Silver / Magnifique Orfèvrerie. Sale cat., Christie’s, Geneva, April 27, 1976, p. 13, no. 20.
Judit H. Kolba. Hungarian Silver: The Nicolas M. Salgo Collection. London, 1996, p. 76, no. 54.

Elemér Kőszeghy. Magyarországi ötvösjegyek a középkortól 1867-ig / Merkzeichen der Goldschmiede Ungarns vom Mittelalter bis 1867. Budapest, 1936, no. 225 [maker’s mark].
This cup is by the same master as that of a tankard with the story of Ahasverus in the Musée National du Moyen Age, Thermes de Cluny, Paris (see Oberschall Magda Bárányné. “Magyar és magyar vonatkozású művészeti emlékek Párisban.” Pt. 2. Magyar művészet 7, nos. 9–10 (1931), p. 550; Erdély régi művészeti emlékeinek kiállítása az Iparművészeti múzeumban / Ausstellung alten Kunstgewerbes aus Siebenbürgen. Exh. cat. Museum of Applied Arts. Budapest, 1931, p. 21, no. 73).
For a similar dolphin-form stem on a Hungarian nautilus cup, see Important English, Continental, and American Silver and Gold. Sale cat., Christie’s, New York, May 17, 2011, no. 104.

Source: Wolfram Koeppe 2015 and


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