UNKNOWN GOLDSMITH, German
(active 1560-1580 in Leipzig)

Ostrich Egg Standing Cup

1560-80
Ostrich egg, gilt silver, height 34 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Along with the feathers of the ostrich, the great eggs of the flightless bird played an important role in the long-distance trade of the Middle Ages. Ostrich eggs found use in the secular world in the art and marvel cabinets of princes as well as in sacristies and reliquaries. In the present example, the Christian iconography pairs with the profane. Profane ornamentation dominates most of the silver mounting, however, the three brackets, with which the ostrich egg is bound to the foot, are decorated with miniature, winged angel heads. On the lid, a nest with three small ostrichs is portrayed.




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