The two elegant baroque beakers are clearly designed as a counterpart. They rise above a flat base and curve slightly conically outwards towards the top. The wall of the beaker, which is left in polished silver, ends in a lip rim with multiple profiles. An effective, original gold plating serves as a decorative element, which surrounds the lower end of the cup in a narrow band and the lip edge of the cup in a wider band. The inside of the beaker is also gilded – the alternating silver and partly gilt surfaces stand in exciting contrast to one another and give the pair of mugs a noble simplicity.
Coat of arms
In the center of both beakers is a lavishly engraved coat of arms of the Bråkenhielm family with the initials P and BH in a vertical oval, which appears to stand out vividly thanks to the combination of masterly engraving and cleverly used gilding. Elaborately rolled up and interwoven acanthus tendrils in the background of the coat of arms emphasize this impression even more: on the coat of arms shield itself, the crossed swords, the arm below with arrows and bows and the upright sword, each surrounded by two flags on the helmet ornament, show defensibility and the courage of its owners, that of Bråkenhielm.
The special emphasis on the coat of arms was intended by the client and is probably related to the ennoblement of the House of Bråkenhielm in 1683: The military career of Peder Svensson Bråk (1646-1720) began in the service of Count Wittenberg, with whom he initially worked in 1776 fought with the French army in Germany and later with the Swedish army near Skåne. He took part in the Battle of Lund and was raised to the nobility in 1683 in gratitude for his military achievements. The cups are mentioned in 1737 in the inventory of his son Hans Georg Bråkenhielm (1684–1736). The superbly crafted silver cups certainly held a place of honor among the family silver of the Bråkenhielm family, as they impressively displayed the newly acquired nobility of the house in an impressive, simple way.
Between 1690 and 1726, Nathanael Schlaubitz was one of the leading goldsmiths in the important economic center of Danzig, which was known for its high-quality silver work. The extremely versatile and successful Gdańsk master made both utility silver and elaborate representational objects artfully decorated with biblical scenes, figurative scenes, tendrils and portraits. Schlaubitz was married three times, in 1691 his first marriage to Anne Konstanze, the daughter of Peter Röd II, and his third marriage to Catarine Elisabethe Holl – both members of the most important goldsmith families in Danzig. He ran one of the largest goldsmiths’ workshops in the history of Gdańsk and trained numerous students. His works were shown in the exhibition: “Polish Silver from the 17th century to the first half of the 19th century in the Collection of the Hermitage, Ermitage St. Petersburg 2004/2005”, which had set itself the goal of objects from the heyday of Polish goldsmithing in a stylish way in the blue bedroom of the Winter Palace. 18 of his works alone are in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg today, including an elaborately chased plate, bottles, vases with handles, a terrine, several mugs, a jug and cooling vessels. More of his nearly 200 surviving works can be seen in the Museum of historical treasures of Ukraine in Kiev as well as in the Wilanów Palace Museum in Warsaw, in the Wawel Castle in Krakow, in the National Museum in Danzig and in the Germanic National Museum in Nuremberg.
The pair of cups, one of Nathanael Schlaubitz’s early works, was in the private collection of the well-known Swedish noble family von Barbro and Henry Montgomery: Henry Montgomery, Swedish lawyer and politician, was the son of John Montgomery-Cederhielm and his wife Ebba, née Silfverstolpe. He married Barbro Söderberg, the daughter of the well-known Swedish businessman and patron Ragnar Söderberg and Ingegerd, née Wallenberg, in 1952 and together with her acquired an important silver collection.
Czihak, Eugen von, The art of fine forging in Prussia, West Prussia, III Danzig, Leipzig 1908 (on Danzig and Nathaniel Schlaubitz, pp. XVIII, XIX, pp. 69-70)
Gradowski, Michał; Kasprzak-Miler, Agnieszka, Złotnicy na ziemiach północnej polski I, Województwo pomorskie, kujawsko-pomorskie i warmińsko-mazurskie; Goldsmiths of Northern Poland, Part I, Central and Eastern part of the region, Warszawa 2002, pp. 119-120, G 494 (Nathaniel Schlaubitz)
Gradowski, Michał, Znaki probiercze na zabytkowych srebrach w Polsce, Warszawa 1988, pp. 13-16 (Gdansk, on the city mark of Danzig)
Hernmarck, Karl, The Art of European Gold- and Silversmiths from 1450-1830, Munich 1978, pp. 78-80
Löhr, Alfred (Hrsg), Danziger Silber, Die Schätze des Nationalmuseums Gdansk, exhibition catalog Bremer Landesmuesum / Focke-Museum (Focke Museum booklets No. 87), Bremen 1991
Pechstein, Klaus (ed.) Treasures of German goldsmithing from 1500 to 1920 from the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg, Berlin 1992, pp. 97-99 (on Danzig); Pp. 202-206 especially cat.no.86 (on Nathanael Schlaubitz)
Rosenberg, Marc, The goldsmith’s mark R3, Volume II, Germany D-M, Frankfurt a. Main 1923, pp. 2-3, p. 13
Tucholka-Wlodarska, Barbara, goldsmithing from the 14th to the 20th century in the collections of the National Museum in Gdansk. Gdansk 2005