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A Dutch coconut cup with silver mounts

A Dutch coconut cup with silver mounts

Amsterdam, 1564
Height: 12.9in.; 33 cm

maker's mark a compass

The body chased with three scenes representing the Adoration the Magi, Esther facing Assuérus and Salomon Judgment, the cover finial shaped as a standing naked man holding a spear and a plain escutcheon.

Mounted coconut cups have been popular items since at least the 13th century. However, the expansion and popularization of these highly decorative vessels made from exotic materials came with the modern age, when European explorations to tropical destinations became increasingly common.

Some examples, such as the present one, have the shell carved to depict biblical or battle scenes, a Europeans' attempt to incorporate western culture into these exotic objects. The perfect fusion between tropical and continental objects, capable of evoking unfamiliar and unknown worlds, made these cups extremely attractive for European collectors, who commonly displayed them in cabinets of curiosities (kunstkammer or wunderkammer).
 

Margarete Oppenheim (born Eisner, formerly Reichenheim) (1857-1935); Involuntary estate sale of the above, Julius Böhler, Munich, May 18-22, 1936
Joseph Morpurgo Collection
Exhibited at the Historisches Museum, Amsterdam in 1980 
In 1981, Delft Antiques Fair (Kunst und Antiquitâtenmesse Delft), stand no. 15, Joseph M. Morpurgo, Amsterdam
Ritman Collection. Sale Ritman Collection, Sotheby's Geneva, 16 May 1995, n° 22. Sotheby's Geneva, 16 May 1995, n° 22.
Antony Embden Collection
 

This cup is illustrated in Rolf Fritz, Die Gefâsse aus Kokonuss in Mitteleuropa 1250-1800, Philp von Zabern, 1983, planche 53.
Catalogue du 33e Salon des Antiquaires de Delft, 4 novembre 1981, p. 53.
A similar coconut cup with silver mounts illustrated in Helmut Seling, Dir Kunst der Augsburger Goldschmiede 1529-1868, Verlag C.H.Beck, Band II, illu. 99
 

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