KEBERLIN, Michael
(active 1560s in Augsburg)

Coconut Cup

1568-70
Coconut, gilt silver
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Coconut was prized not only because of its exoticism, but also for its purported medical properties. Coconut milk alleviated, among other things, tapeworm, fever, kidney and bladder afflictions and served as an aphrodisiac as well. The nut's shell was rumoured to possess the ability to reveal poisons. This particular attribute of the fruit of the coconut palm predetermined its use as the cup element in drinking vessels. The design of the standing cup is typical of southern Germany in the second half of the sixteenth century.

Germany has traditionally been known as a leader in silver- and goldsmithry. In the 16-17th centuries masters from the two most prolific centres, Augsburg and Nuremberg, with their numerous Italian artisans, produced silverware of remarkable quality and elegance, especially drinking vessels in the impressive variety. Michael Keberlin was a goldsmith active in Augsburg.




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