Attributed to Nicholas Pfaff (German, 1566–1612)
Overall: 15.5 x 8.9 x 7 cm (6 1/8 x 3 1/2 x 2 3/4 in.)
Medium or Technique
Alyce Morrissey Gallery (Kunstkammer) (Gallery 143)
Beaker, carved from a single piece of ivory, rests on an oval foot surmounted by two intertwined dolphins. Surface of the vessel carved in low relief with abstract organic decoration incorporating a horse’s (?) skull, a winged female, drapery and a lion’s
Pfaff specialized in small, often bizarre ivory carvings, prized both for the sculptor’s virtuosity and for the beauty of the material. This extraordinary cup is carved with a lion’s head its jaws wide open and its hide hanging down the back a mermaid with wings outspread at front, and a foot of coiled dolphins. In the 18th century, it formed part of a Kunstkammer assembled in Baden-Baden, Germany, by Sibylla Augusta (1675-1733), Duchess of Sachsen-Launenburg.
Sibylla Augusta (1675-1733), Duchess of Sachsen-Launenburg and widow of Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm of Baden Baden (1655-1707); by descent through Margraves and Grand Dukes of Baden [to Max Margrave], and housed at Neues Schloss, Baden-Baden, Germany; October 5, 1995, sold at Neues Schloss sale, Sotheby's, Baden-Baden, lot 282 and bought by J. Kugel Antiquaires, Paris; 1996, sold by J. Kugel and bought by the MFA through the John H. and Ernestine A. Payne Fund, Mary S. and Edward J. Holmes Fund, Beatrice Haines Fund and Frank B. Bemis Fund. (Accession Date: March 27, 1996)
John H. and Ernestine A. Payne Fund, Mary S. and Edward Jackson Holmes Fund, Beatrice Haines Fund and Frank B. Bemis Fund