Object number : 243

Nuremberg, 1569–1576

Master: Primus Dortaller

Maker’s mark: X-shaped house mark with bars in a circle (Tebbe / Timann / Eser 2007, p. 96, No. 162, R3, No. 3903)

Silver, gilded, chased, hallmarked, engraved, etched

Height: 11 cm (4 1/3 in.); Weight: 148 g (5.2 oz.)

Detailed Description

Detailed information

Nuremberg vermeil silver beaker with finely crafted Mauresque fittings and snakeskin decoration

A mug like from a thousand and one nights: the Nuremberg trumpet beaker impresses with its elegant, elongated shape. It rises above a round base, the floor of which is curved inward and is intricately decorated with snakeskin decoration.

The exuberant decor of the cup wall in the Moorish style, decorated with fittings and scrollwork decor, combined with high-quality fire gilding, can only be found in this form on a few objects of the Nuremberg goldsmith’s art. The motif of the Mauresque, adopted from Islamic / Moorish art, consists of stylized tendrils, leaves and flowers. It had already immigrated to the art of the West in the 12th and 13th centuries and was a popular decorative element, especially in the Renaissance period between 1520 and 1600, because it looked exotic.

A wide band surrounds the cup below the edge of the lip. From this structural element, geometrically arranged, rolled spirals and ornamental tendrils develop upwards and downwards. They undercut, shape playfully cut hearts and form a six-petalled flower towards the center of the cup. Deliberately asymmetrically arranged, delicately rolled flowers and leaf tendrils grow out of the wider ribbons and spirals.

The alternation of apparent symmetry and tense asymmetries invites you to take a closer look at the cup. Etchings by Virgil Solis, in particular, come into question as graphic templates, whose Mauresque designs are surrounded by geometrically arranged, wide scroll and ribbon ornaments, the finest rolled, stylized tendrils, leaves and flowers. Virgil Solis teases the play of symmetry and asymmetry, of overcutting and undercutting of the tendrils and the artistic arrangement of the ribbons as a structuring element in his series “Detail details too big and small works”. His designs could have served as a model for Primus Dortaller.

Nuremberg goldsmith’s art around 1570

Etched Mauresque fittings and scrollwork decor on the edge of the lips were very popular on Nuremberg cups and goblets between 1560 and 1580. In contrast to Paulus Tullner, who uses the etched Mauresque decor, as most of his contemporaries mainly used on the lip of his cups and goblets, Dortaller completely covers his slim trumpet goblet with the exotic decor. Another special feature of the cup, which is decorated with overflowing ornamentation, is the base of the cup, which is covered with snakeskin decoration. The drinking cup created by Dortaller can therefore be described in several respects as a qualitatively and compositionally excellent object of the Nuremberg goldsmith’s art.


Primus Dortaller was a goldsmith based in Nuremberg between 1550 and 1578, who served as a juror from 1561 to 1565. In 1563, at the same time as Paulus Tullner, Gregor Türck and Peter Treptau, he valued the treasures of a debtor: his close connection to these goldsmiths is evident from the sources. As with numerous masters of his time, only one trophy from the armory of the Moscow Kremlin was known from Dortaller. The cup of that goblet is also decorated with humps, plastic heads and the Mauresque ornament that was very popular around 1560.


Tebbe, Karin, Timann, Ursula, Eser, Thomas: Nürnberger Goldschmiedekunst 1541–1868, Volume I, Meister, Werke, Marken, Part 1: Textband, Nürnberg 2007, pp. 95f., MZ 0162, p. 501, BZ 07 please to match, I couldn’t see it well, thanks

Tebbe, Karin, Timann, Ursula, Eser, Thomas: Nürnberger Goldschmiedekunst 1541–1868, Volume I, Masters, Works, Brands, Part 2: Tafeln, Nürnberg 2007

Tebbe, Karin: Nürnberger Goldschmiedekunst 1541-1868, Volume II, Goldglanz und Silberstrahl, Nürnberg 2007 (on cups and beakers around 1560 with engraved fittings and mural decoration on the lip edge, see p. 800, especially no. 262, p. 811, No. 285-286, p. 816, No. 297-298, p. 847 No. 372, p. 848, No. 373, p. 849, No. 376, p. 932, No. 572 (for trumpet beakers with engraved decoration around 1558/1562, see p. 935, no. 583) (cups covered with fittings, scrollwork and mural decoration too large, see p. 761, no. 158, p. 763, no. 169)

Marc Rosenberg: Der Goldschmiede Merkzeichen, Volume 3, Germany N – Z, Frankfurt am Main 1925, p. 91, MZ 3903 (see: / last accessed on December 11th, 2021)