Silver Parcel-Gilt Beaker with Engravings of Architectural Settings
This silver, partly-gilt beaker presents a typical form for the German baroque period. The iconographical programme is developed on the exterior side of the corpus between two gilt rings on the rim and on the bottom of the beaker. Two sophisticated and with many details, engraved cartouches show different scenes with architectural settings, while in-between them, there are foliate scrolls and fruit pendants engraved. On the one, a gate and a small building behind it, against a mountainous landscape. On the other, a house and a part of a castle on the boards of a river, while around them there are trees and vegetation. The beaker is gilt inside.
The present beaker demonstrates the increased interest in landscapes during the seventeenth century. While during the middle ages and the Renaissance, landscapes had a connection to religious and mythological themes, in the seventeenth century, and in particular among the Dutch painters and printmakers, there is a tendency to use landscape as an account of nature. Hercules Seghers (c. 1589-c. 1638) pioneer in printmaking of the Dutch Golden Age, appreciated by Rembrandt (1606-1669) who also owned paintings and prints of Seghers, is one of the ground-breaking landscapists of the seventeenth century, who used landscape as such. Other pioneer artists who worked with landscapes are Albrecht Altdorfer (c. 1480-1538) and Joachim Patinir (c. 1480-1524).
French landscape painters, like Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665), were creating landscapes within the frame of the hierarchy of genres, giving them poetic and heroic tonalities. However, during the seventeenth century, the landscape developed into an independent genre and was not any more connected to religious or mythological (historical themes).
Travelling towards the South and in particular to Italy, it became after the Thirty Years War (1618-48) easier for artists and members of the upper class. Thus, Italian – mostly Roman – ruins inspired Northern European painters.
The silversmiths, following the artistic developments of their contemporaries adopted, pretty fast new habits, decorative elements and styles. Within the context of the development of landscape paintings, one can observe that many drinking vessels of the seventeenth century present engraved decoration based on architectural settings and or cityscapes. Thus, the present beaker of the maker Johann Jakob Petrus – a maker of objects of outstanding quality and provenance – is a fashionable object of the late seventeenth century.
Johann Jakob Petrus (Peters) was goldsmith, born in Augsburg. Petrus became a master maker around 1667 and he got married in this same year. There are several drinking vessels, such as beakers and tankards, known from him.