HOLBEIN, Hans the Younger
(b. 1497, Augsburg, d. 1543, London)

Jane Seymour's Cup

c. 1536
Pen, indian ink, and watercolour, 37,6 x 15,5 cm
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Since his youth Holbein had been involved in the design of artifacts and it is not surprising that the English court, following the King's lead, should have set him to further practice. Besides this cup, other articles included elaborate centre-piece. designs (of fountains and basins) for court banquets, convoluted decorative `parade daggers', and a case for a clock for Sir Anthony Denny not dissimilar in design to the Queen's cup, of which the British Museum has another version.

Near the top the Queen's motto, `Bound to Obey and Serve', can be seen, and `H' and `J' love-knots embellish the central panel.

The actual piece was sold in Holland in 1625 on Charles I's orders, and was described as `a faire standing Cupp of Goulde, garnished about the cover with eleaven Dyamonds ... seaventeene Table Dyamonds and one Pearle Pendant uppon the Cupp ... weighing Threescore and five ounces and a half'. Possession of such objects carried inordinate prestige in courtly circles.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 12 minutes):
Gaetano Donizetti: Anna Bolena, Act II, Jane Seymour's aria