The elaborately engraved Bamberg monthly cup with depictions of the month of November and the associated inscription; Scenes based on graphic templates by the well-known engravers Jost Amman and Matthäus Merian the Elder. elders.
Silver, partially gilt, cast, embossed, engraved, punched
With a first glance the simple and elegantly formed shape of the cup, which stands on a flat base and widens conically towards the top, works in striking contrast to the elaborate engraving of the drinking crockery. The gilding on the inside and on the edge of the lip effectively emphasizes the all-round inscription, which is significant for the mug. It is:
“THE WINTER MOON GENERALLY TAKES THE FIELD AS ITS STRENGTH”
Even if the “winter moon” is less known within todays society in connection with the months, this term was common in southern Germany in the late Renaissance and Baroque periods: The Nuremberg master singer Hans Sachs (1494-1576) wrote:
“November, the winter moon, the eleventh month. / After November comes, the eleventh month brings nothing else, / Because frost, ice and the cold snow / There is no fruit to be hoped for, // Then one eats and consumes, / What one does in the summer won. / He who does not collect in due time / suffers great want in the month”
If you look at the four individual scenes on the silver cup, which are shown in great detail, you will notice: Three of the scenes show small staffage figures, who act in the midst of an autumn-winter landscape with partly bare trees. The farmer standing below the ship, on the other hand, is shown larger, with a flail laid casually over his right shoulder and placed in the foreground.
The representation of the farmer clearly goes back to Jost Amman’s etchings for the 12 months, which were published by Stephan Hermann in Ansbach in 1588. It is the 11th sheet of the series with the inscription “NOVEMBER II.” Not only the left leg in front, the entire posture, clothing, hat, pose and flail, even the bundle of corn at the feet of the farmer and the bare tree in the background , were taken directly from the graphic template by the engraver.
To the right of this, below the words “DER WINTERMOND” – at the top in the clouds – is a representation of the constellation Sagittarius (Sagittarius). Underneath, two forest workers in hats, in remarkably tight-fitting clothing, are sawing up a tree trunk in front of a partially defoliated piece of forest. A bare branch can be seen in the background between the two figures. An ax lies on the ground at the feet of the back figure.
Both lumberjacks, of which the back view of the lumberjack with emphasized buttocks particularly catches the eye, as well as the branch. The ax and the sign of the zodiac, are part of an engraving series with twelve monthly pictures with verses and zodiac signs by Matthäus Merian the Elder. Ä. taken from 1620-1622 and published by Peter Aubry. The engraver only used the lower right half of the sheet “NOVEMBER” and mixed an older Sumerian version of Capricorn (Capricornus), which was mainly found in historical star charts, with the Sagittarius constellation to depict the sign of the zodiac. He gave the shooting centaur near Merian the scaly tail of a “goat fish” and thus created a wintry mixed zodiac sign. By transferring the graphic template to the silver cup, the representation appears reversed.
The situation is similar with the woodcutter shown to the right, who is wearing a hat, is shown walking, with his ax raised and chopping down a tree:
A woodcutter in similar clothing, outfit and posture can be found again in an etching by Matthäus Merian the Elder. Ä. with the name “Biersee near Basel”, 1601-1625. However, Merian’s tree is completely cut off and shown lying down, while the bare tree on the cup stands upright. Either there was another unknown depiction of Merian, or the engraver brought his own ideas and conceptions into the composition of the picture.
The last of the four depictions shows a wild boar hunt with three biting hounds and a hunter with a hat and shirt pleated at the front stabbing the wild boar with an outstretched spear. This depiction is certainly based on the etching “Boar Hunt”, a town view with a depiction of a hunt in the foreground by Matthäus Merian the Elder. Ä.
The adoption of the autumnal-winter scenes did not result in a flat imitation of works by the famous engravers Jost Amman and Matthäus Merian the Elder. On the contrary, by interweaving the backgrounds and individual depictions, a new, excellently crafted work of art was created. The quality of the engravings is exceptional and there are hardly any comparable objects of a similarly high standard. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London owns a January month cup from Strasbourg, made around 1560 by Courakt Grenter. He used a woodcut from Hans Sebald Beham’s well-known series of seasons from 1546/1547 as a template. The mug also belonged to a series of twelve mugs. Engravings of this type and quality with well-known graphic templates are extremely rare and have rarely been preserved.
About the master “HP”:
The identity of this extraordinary goldsmith and engraver has so far remained obscure. The hallmark B indicates that the mug was made in Bamberg: According to Rosenberg (R3, p. 245, no. 1091 and p. 247, no. 1121), the combination of this hallmark and maker’s mark can be found on two other objects: a) a gold-plated, elaborately humped pineapple goblet with a “finely worked bouquet of flowers” (Schmeck) and a cold-enamelled vintner figure on the handle, which was sold by the Walter von Pannwitz Collection and was described in the 1905 catalog by Hugo Helbing, Munich, as a Nuremberg work from around 1600; and b) a partially gilded communion chalice with a hexalobe base and hexagonal nodus with an inscription from 1649 from the parish church of Menringen. Helbing attributed the pineapple cup to Nuremberg silver because of its high quality, while Rosenberg attributed the cup to Bamberg because of its stamps. The executive master of this cup was not only able to skilfully combine first-class templates, but also enabled them to implement them virtuously according to the wishes of his client.
The mug comes from the important collection of Robert G. and Ilse Vater, who assembled a high-quality collection of European porcelain, silver and gold boxes in Frankfurt in the 20th century.
Bartrum Giulia (ed.): The New Hollstein, German Engravings, Etchings und Woodcuts 1400-1700, Part I, Jost Amman, Rotterdam 2001, p. 25 no. 119 (on Jost Amman, November II, 1588)
Büsching, Johann Gustav: Hans Sachs serious tragedies, lovely plays, strange carnival games, entertaining conversations’, yearning lamentations, wonderful fables: together with other ridiculous farces and farces, Nuremberg 1816, pp. 277-278
R3, Rosenberg, Marc: The goldsmith’s mark, Volume 1, Germany A-C, Frankfurt am Main 1922, pp. 245-247. (esp. p. 245, hallmark for Bamberg, nos. 1088 and 1091: “B” in the round; p. 247, maker’s mark no. 1121: “HP” joined in the round).
Wüthrich, Lucas Heinrich: The printed work of Matthäus Merian d. Ae., single sheets and sequences of sheets, vol. 1, Basel 1966, p. 84, no. 362, fig. 158 (November); p. 97, no. 405, fig. 185 (boar hunt); p. 127, no. 499, fig. 279 (Biersee near Basel)
https://archive.org/details/hanssachsernstl00bsgoog/page/n310/mode/2up?q=wintermond (Hans Sachs, November)
http://kk.haum-bs.de/?id=j-amman-wb3-0096 (Jost Amman, etching 1588)
http://kk.haum-bs.de/?id=m-merian-ab3-0105 (Matthäus Merian, November, 1620-1622)
http://diglib.hab.de?grafik=c-geom-2f-00194 (Matthäus Merian, Biersee near Basel, 1601-1625)
https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/fabelwesen-im-sueden-der-uralte-steinbock-ziegenfisch-100.html (to the goat fish)
http://diglib.hab.de?grafik=c-geom-2f-00244 (Matthäus Merian, boar hunt, 1600-1625)
https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O91614/beaker-grenter-courakt/ (Courakt Grenter Monthly Beaker, Victoria & Albert Museum, c.1560