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Before the introduction of silverware, hand-washing sets consisting of a pitcher and basin formed an essential part of every rich collection of table utensils. This war elephant is an aquamanile, a pouring vessel. A removable plate on the head allowed the vessel to be filled; the elephant’s trunk ends in two spouts, and the tail served as a handle. The accompanying basin with a depiction of the ancient military leader Hannibal, who crossed the Alps with elephants, has been lost since the 18th century and is known only from a copperplate engraving. The elephant was considered a symbol of rulership, and represented strength, power, and wealth. During the Renaissance and Baroque periods Nuremberg was a centre of German goldsmithing. Christoph Jamnitzer (1563–1618), grandson of Wenzel Jamnitzer, ranks among the most important masters of his craft. In this piece he created a depiction of this exotic animal that is surprisingly naturalistic for his time.

Details

  • Title: Pouring Vessel in the Shape of an Elephant
  • Creator: Christoph Jamnitzer
  • Creator Lifespan: 1563 - 1618
  • Creator Nationality: German
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Date: ca. 1600
  • Rights: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Karen Bartsch │ Text © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Susanne Netzer
  • Place of origin: Nuremberg, Germany
  • Physical Dimensions: w13 x h43 x d30 cm
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-018417
  • Provenance: Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Type: Hand washing vessel
  • External Link: http://www.smb.museum/museen-und-einrichtungen/kunstgewerbemuseum/home.html
  • Medium: Silver, gold-plated, partially painted

Additional Items

Gießgefäß in Form eines Elefanten

Pouring Vessel in the Shape of an Elephant

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