Two-handled cup and cover

probably English (London)
about 1660

Object Place: Europe, Probably London, England


H. 20 cm (7 7/8 in.); W. 19.1 cm ( 7 1/2 in.); D. 14.3 cm (5 5/8 in.); Weight 855.4 gm (27 oz 10 dwt)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View





The cup is of bombé shape and rests on a low modeled foot. The two high car-shaped handles are in the form of intertwined serpents. The body of the cup is embossed overall with abstract auricular patterns incorporating grotesque masks and faces. The removable cover has an irregular outline and rises to a high finial in the form of a hooded, squatting grotesque figure. The cover is embossed with abstract auricular patterns. The body of the cup is raised, embossed, and chased. The foot is cast and applied; the handles are formed of two heavy tapered wires, twisted, with the cast serpent’s heads applied. The cover and finial are raised from a single sheet, embossed, and chased. Two short wires are soldered to the front and back interior of the cover to act as stops.

The decoration on this cup with grotesque faces hidden in the abstract undulations of the surface, reflects the influence of Dutch goldsmith Christian van Vianen (1598-1667), who worked in London from 1632 until 1643 and again in the 1660s. The van Vianen family of goldsmiths is credited with the invention of the style of this cup, called auricular for its resemblance to the human ear, in the early seventeenth-century Utrecht.


Armorials: Engraved on the rim, the arms and crest of Evelyn impaling another


Possibly John Evelyn (b. 1620 - d. 1706) and his wife, Mary Browne, London. 1963, sold by John Hunt (b. 1900 - d. 1976) London and Dublin, to the MFA for £2,800. (Accession Date: September 18, 1963)

Credit Line

Theodora Wilbour Fund in memory of Charlotte Beebe Wilbour