Drinking vessels, 16th-17th century
In this post, I would like to collect those Hungarian / Transylvanian drinking vessels that were created in the 16th-17th century. These late Renessaince pieces of treasure are usually scattered all over the world, in several museums. It means, that many cups, goblets, beakers, and glasses are going to be added to this article, usually with the description given by the particular museum.
Drinking Vessel in the Form of a Hussar, around 1582
The Kunstkammer of Ferdinand II of Tyrol contains various objects that are closely connected with the archduke. These include his portrait in wax, his seal stamp, and the drinking vessel showing his son and heir Karl of Burgau as a Hussar. Ferdinand himself is believed to have made the somewhat unsuccessful lidded glass beaker. It was surely given the especially precious gold and jeweled mount for this reason.
This gilded silver vessel was made by Johann Zechel in Innsbruck. Dimensions: Height: 53,3 cm, Length: 25 cm
Footed beaker, the second part of the 16th century
Maker: Attributed to Paulus Brölfft (active 1574–1602); Culture: Hungarian / German Saxon, Nagyszeben (Sibiu, Hermannstadt in Transylvania); Medium: Silver, partially gilded; Dimensions: Overall: 7 15/16 x 3 1/4 in. (20.2 x 8.2 cm); Metropolitan Museum
In terms of silver content, one of these beakers was considered equal to ten of the Show-Thaler coins, though their overall value is amplified by ornament and craftsmanship. Just like the northern counties of the Kingdom of Hungary, Transylvania supplied much of Europe’s silver and gold at the time. Alchemists regarded silver as the moon’s metal, imbued with magic powers. It was also the currency of cash, in particular the Thaler: a coin minted throughout sixteenth-century Europe. In an era marked by the constant threat of war, precious silver vessels were literally worth their weight in currency—easily melted down in times of need.
Footed beaker, late 16th century
A set of 5 cups, 1620
These silver cups are from Transylvania, their creator was Simon Berwert, a Saxon master from Nagyszeben. Splayed cylindrical forms the beakers are engraved with slightly stylized leaves and floral decoration. There is one cover for the set the cast finial is in the form of a standing putto. Marked with maker’s sign. They are on display in the Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest.
Dimensions: height: 18 cm; base diameter: 4 cm; diameter: 6 cm; weight: 400 g
Footed beaker, mid-17th century
A Tankard from Debrecen, Hungary (1627)
Maker: Michael Beri (active ca. 1627) Date: ca. 1627 Culture: Hungarian, Debrecen Medium: Gilded silver
Dimensions: Overall: 7 1/16 x 4 7/8 in. (18 x 12.4 cm) It is in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, not in view…
The Museum’s description:
“Prints were a key source for Beri in fashioning this tankard. Its form was made popular through the printed designs of Bernhard Zan. Scrollwork cartouches frame three oval reliefs filled with animals: a unicorn before an urban structure, a grazing horse in a landscape, and a recumbent lioness or panther near a well and tower. These animal scenes follow prints from a Thierbuch (or book of animals), published by Jost Amman and Hans Bocksberger in Frankfurt in 1579, that was an especially common source for metal-workers.”
A silver cup from Transylvania, 1648
Dimensions: height: 19,5 cm; opening diameter: 13,5 cm It is on display in the Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest.
The side is decorated with the engraved marital arms of János Kemény and Zsuzsanna Kallai, ensigned with a coronet and surrounded by a wreath. There is also an inscription around the coats of arms: IOHANNES KEMENY ANNO 1648, SVSANNA KALLAI ANNO 1648. The rim has an engraved VII, which refers to the number of the beaker series. Marked with the maker’s signature on the base as yet unidentified.
Feeding bowl set, 1690
Canister,1681 (Metropolitan Museum)
Saxon Tankard, ca. 1650 (Metropolitan Museum)
Silver wine glass from 1632
In the 17th century, there were similar silver glasses in each noble household. This glass is on display in the Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest.
A footed beaker, 1670 (Metropolitan Museum)
A footed beaker with cover, 1682 (Metropolitan Museum)
This monumental beaker is one of the largest known of its type. It has a hollow base and an undulating ring that marks the actual bottom of the vessel on the outside. Both of these features are characteristic of Hungarian and Transylvanian production. The inscribed coat of arms at left indicates that it belonged to a member of a princely Transylvanian family, Count Mikes, who came from one of the most ancient dynasties of the Székely people.
Together with the Saxons, the Székelys were crucial for the defense of Hungary’s eastern border against the Ottomans. The number “XX” may indicate that the beaker was the largest in an assembled set from which two smaller beakers are now preserved in the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest. The lute-playing angel garbed in peasant costume is very close to a similar figure decorating a silver-gilt tankard by Michael Schellung, made in Brassó about 1640. Both were likely inspired by the same printed design source.
Maker: Johannes (Hans) Mautner (master 1670, died 1694) Date: 1682 Culture: Saxon / Hungarian, Brassó Medium: Gilded silver
Dimensions: Overall: 15 3/4 x 6 11/16 in. (40 x 17 cm) Classification: Metalwork-Silver
Credit Line: Gift of The Salgo Trust for Education, New York, in memory of Nicolas M. Salgo, 2010
A silver cup – with the arms of Bethlen Miklós and Rhédey Júlia (around 1693)
It was made by the Saxon Sebestyén Hann in Nagyszeben, Transylvania, and it is in the Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest. This item, representative of Transylvanian Renaissance goldsmith art, used to be in the possession of Benjámin Kállay. It is a member of a set of beakers fitting into each other. The 6 or 12-piece sets were made for special occasions, engagements, and nuptials.
The surface of the beaker, slightly widening in a curve, is decorated with a special punching tool and resembles shark skin. There are coats of arms and signs on its side, in two oval fields. To the left, Bethlen’s coat of arms with the snake and the crown and the inscription “NICOL DE BETHLEN CONT EN CAN REG COM M C E IHVST C S”. To the right, there is a bird in a coat of arms field with a helmet, and the name “IVLIA REDEI”, referring to the Transylvanian councilor and his wife. The bottom base edge features a later chiseling: “PRO SPONZA-BARBARA BETHLEN ANNO 1693”, according to which Bethlen gave it to his daughter from his first marriage.
Its pendant can be found in the collection of the National Museum. Its mouth and base edges and the oval fields of the coats of arms are gilt.
It is marked on its bottom with the initials SH in an oval field – a monogram of Sebestyén Hann (1644–1713), the most significant master of Hungarian Baroque goldsmith art.
Dimensions: height: 19 cm; opening diameter: 12,6 cm; base diameter: 8,9 cm; weight: 528 g;
A Charger, 1794
Although it is not a drinking vessel, it certainly fits here. It is from Transylvania, it is made of silver, and partly gilded. Dimensions: Overall: 17 1/8 x 17 1/2 in. (43.5 x 44.5 cm) It is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Museum’s description:
Allegorical figures of the Four Elements, labeled within ribbons as IGNIS (fire), AQUA (water), AER (air), and TERRA (earth), occupy the oval cartouches. Cycles of the Four Elements, the Four Seasons, the Four Times of the Day, and the Four Ages of Man were important and commonly depicted subjects in Baroque art. Numerous animals, including a mythological unicorn (symbol of purity), an exotic camel, a bear (warning of gluttony), and a wild boar (symbol of endurance and strength), among others, are dispersed throughout the frieze ornament and interlacing floral decoration. The tulip motif is derived from the plants first cultivated in the Balkan region and the Ottoman Empire.
A charger like this one would have been displayed on a festive buffet. It is unclear if it was intended as a stand for a matching ewer, in which case it would have served as part of a lavabo set used for washing hands during meals. The name of its owner, Gyerofi Borbara, and the date it was made in 1694, is inscribed in the center. The numbering on the back indicates that the piece was once in the Andrássy treasury.
A mid-17th century beaker, Metropolitan Museum
Title: Footed beaker; Maker: Franciscus Rether (active 1634–84, master 1635); Culture: Hungarian (Saxon), Brassó; Medium: Silver
Dimensions: Overall: 8 3/8 x 4 5/16 in. (21.2 x 11 cm) (Presently not on view.)
Trumpet-shaped beakers with high hollow bases were one of Salgo’s great passions, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art selected several examples from his collection to document their variety of sizes, artistic quality, and type of decoration. Hunting scenes and a lion, elk, and rampant horse are all powerfully depicted in this piece. The applied, molded ring marks the actual bottom of the liquid-containing part of this piece.
A Beaker, late 17th century
This beaker was made in Hungary, in Rimaszombat. Floral decoration was very popular in goldsmiths’ work in the later seventeenth century, culminating with the use of large, swirling blossoms and foliage, as seen on this beaker that is elevated on ball feet. Objects with this form belonged to a standard type and were produced in large quantities throughout Central and Eastern Europe.
Medium: Silver, partly gilded; Dimensions: Overall: 4 1/2 x 4 in. (11.5 x 10.1 cm)
It is on display in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
A Footed Cup, late 17th century
This silver vessel was made in Transylvania, in Brassó by the Saxon artist Michael Neustadter, and it is in the Museum of Applied Arts, in Budapest. The dimensions are: height: 13,6 cm; base diameter: 6,5 cm; opening diameter: 6,9 cm; weight: 120,4 g;
Tapering, cylindrical body with everted rim. The footband is decorated with bent, chased flowers. The foot is connected to the body with a wavy belt, on which there are three stylized flowers in three cartouches. The master’s and the city’s marks are punched on the rim of the foot.
Maker: Georgius Olescher Jr. (master in 1721, died 1761) Culture: Hungarian / German Saxon Medium: Silver, partly gilded
Dimensions: Overall: 7 7/8 x 4 13/16 in. (20 x 12.2 cm) It is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (not in view)
The Museum’s description: “An elegant rhythm is created in this beaker by alternating gilded vertical concave flutes with silver panels containing finely embossed and chased ornament on a matte ground. Georgius Olescher Jr., the maker here, was probably inspired by the work of Michael II May, who spent several years in France becoming familiar with Regence ornaments, returning to Brassó by December 1731. Other Transylvanian beakers are similarly decorated, including examples with this typical bell-shaped form.”
“And it was May who produced several such large beakers, all of which are similarly ornamented (István Heller. Ungarische und siebenbürgische Goldschmiedearbeiten: Vom Ende des 16. Jahrhunderts bis zum Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts. Munich, 2000, pp. 106–8, nos. 31 and 32). Some were produced with a lid. The Regence strapwork is an adaptation of French and German silver ornament but was also one of the main patterns featured on porcelain from the influential Viennese DuPaquier manufactory. The number of surviving examples made in Brassó indicates that this type of drinking vessel, all partially gilded, was extremely popular in the region.”
I can make this content available only through small donations. If you like my writings, please feel free to support me with a coffee here:
This article contains Amazon ads. By purchasing through these links, you can help my work at no added cost to you. Thank you!
My work can also be followed and supported on Patreon:
Become a Patron!