Object number #196

Nuremberg, ca.1610

City hallmark: N in the round, Nuremberg approx. 1610 (p.641, BZ13 Nürnberger Goldschmiedekunst 2007)

Maker’s mark: Esaias zur Linden (R3 MZ4135; Nürnberger Goldschmiedekunst 2007, p. 256, MZ0527a); a stylized linden tree with 3 gnarled roots in a vertical oval.

Height: 37.5 cm (15 3/4 in.) Diameter of foot: 9.3 cm diameter of lip: 9.3 cm

Weight: 575 g

Prov: COLLEZIONE S. BULGARI ROMA in the glued-on round collector’s mark, with handwritten inscription: “Nuremberg 1610 Esaias zur Linden”, on the inside of the lid.

Detailed Information


The large, silver-gilt ‘grape cup’ stands on a round, multi-profiled base. Which is structured by smoothly polished semi constructed balls in front of a punched background. The upper part of the foot widens into a spherical nodus from which a gnarled vine appears to be growing. A silver leaf cuff formed from thinly cut foliage serves as a transition between the smoothly worked foot and the unspoilt grapevine emerging from it. Consisting of leaves which are, asymmetrically arranged, curled, bent in different directions, and of varying lengths. The irregular arrangement is continued in the intergrowths of the vine, the deliberately used asymmetry of which promotes the impression of the original growth, inconsistency, and naturalness of the vine. It stands in clear contrast to the completely symmetrical decoration of the foot and the grape-shaped cuppa above it. This contrast is intensified by a spirally rising vine tendril that wraps around the cast figure of a wine grower. Compared to the mighty trunk of the vine, the small figure of the winegrower appears helpless and powerless. This impression is negated with tension by the sharpened axe in the right hand of the “wine chopper”, with which he is swinging. The winemaker, who is busy with the cutting and the care of the wine, is hereby much more influential than expected. He is dressed in peasant clothes – a belted tunic, trousers and boots and wears a cap to protect against the weather. A wreath of rolled, asymmetrically attached, silver leaf tendrils serves as a horizontal structure and as a transition between the tubular shaft, which is formed as a gnarled vine and the cuppa, and finely shaped into humps. The cuppa and lid are decorated with lavishly embossed bosses, which were cleverly attached, offset and manufactured so that the transition from the cup to the lid can hardly be seen with the naked eye. The edge of the lips is veiled by drawn-down humps. Whilst the cuppa and slip lid together form a completely symmetrical, downwardly tapering, large cluster. A finely crafted, tall vase with delicate cast volutes as a handle serves as a knob, which is crowned by a finely cut silver bouquet, the “Nuremberg taste” typical of Nuremberg goblets. The exciting interplay of symmetry and asymmetry, of naturalness and artificiality is just as emphasized in Elias zur Linden as in designs by Albrecht Dürer or goldsmiths objects by Wenzel Jamnitzer.

Grape cups and their distribution

Grape cups are a special form of the so-called hump cup, which were particularly popular in Nuremberg, but also in other places such as Lüneburg, Hamburg and Breslau from the last third of the 16th century to the middle of the 17th century. The cup in the form of grapes is directly related to the wine that was drunk from it by princes and envoys on festive ceremonial occasions. The elaborately crafted drinking vessels were often used as a gift of honour on private and official occasions. The creation of a Grape cup was laborious and demanding work. The finely crafted, virtuously driven humps not only ensured greater stability of the vessels, but also reflected the candlelight in a fascinating way. Mogul cups were widespread in Nuremberg – there, since the end of the 15th century, the masters had to make an Akeleipokal as a masterpiece, from which further, nature-oriented cup shapes developed: This is the grape cup with Büttenmann and Kiepe, the winemaker as a shaft figure and the winemaker with ax or “asthauer” as a staffage figure in the grapevine here – not far from the Franconian wine-growing regions – are particularly common. Grape cups required a high level of skill on the part of the goldsmith and were made by the Nuremberg goldsmiths Hans Pezolt, Hans Beutmüller, Paulus Bair, Georg (Jörg) Rühl, Hans Weber and Esaias zur Linden, among others. The gnarled goblets were popular all over Europe, so today grape goblets can be found in numerous European museums that emerged from former princely collections: such as the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Moscow Kremlin, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the art collections Dresden. August the Strong valued the grape cups very much – on the occasion of his coronation as King of Poland in Krakow in 1697, he had ten gold and silver-gilded grape cups set up on his buffet, along with numerous other vessels made of precious metal. In 1730 there were dozens of these “gnarled” goblets in the silver-gilded room of the treasury of the Green Vault in Dresden. These were especially crowned in Nuremberg with the “Schmeck”, a bouquet of cut silver flowers and leaves, which was partly cold-painted and, according to Kitzlinger (p. 201), were made by special master goldsmiths, the “flower makers”. The Dresden Art Collections, the Germanic National Museum in Nuremberg and the Moscow Kremel have large collections of grape cups.


From the goldsmith Esaias zur Linden, small, silver-gilded ships, so-called nefs, have been preserved, and have served as table decorations or display objects on the buffet at royal courts since the 14th century. Table ships from Nuremberg have been known since the beginning of the 16th century. Many of these preserved ships come from Esaias zur Linden. In addition to drinking ships on wheels and ship goblets, the important Nuremberg master created several tankards, sideboards, two rock crystal goblets, a rhinoceros horn bowl and several grape goblets. Of particular interest is a cup in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Inv.-Nr.M370 & A-1910, from 1609, which is almost identical to ours. Although it is a grape cup, it is officially referred to on the website as the “Pineapple Cup and Cover”: Like the present cup, it consists of a round foot with semi-circular humps, a gnarled vine, a winemaker armed with an axe, a slightly less tapered grape, as well as a crowning handle vase with “Nürnberger Schmeck” and at 35 cm tall is only slightly smaller than our grape cup. It is possible that both grape cups were originally intended as a counterpart. Esaias zur Linden’s goldsmith’s work is now largely spread over large European art collections: In addition to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, his objects are in the National Museum in Copenhagen, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the Kremlin in Moscow, the Stuttgart State Museum, the Zurich Swiss State Museum, the Hessisches Landesmuseum Kassel, the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, the Krakauer Wawel and other important European collections.


At the beginning of the 20th century, the grape cup was in the COLLEZIONE S. BULGARI ROMA, which belonged to the Greek goldsmith, jewellery and antique dealer Sotirio Bulgari (d. 1934). He came to Rome in 1881, founded an “Old Curiosity Shop” in 1905, which mainly attracted customers from the USA and Great Britain, before starting in 1915 he mainly devoted himself to the sale of jewellery. The trophy was last displayed in the private collection of Ezra & Cecile Zilkha in New York. Their apartment on Fifth Avenue, with a view of Central Park, was furnished in the style of a Parisian villa, with furniture from the 18th century, paintings by old masters, and European silver from the 16th to 18th centuries. Century and Chinese porcelain. The Zilkhas, a prominent international banking family, whose appreciation and passion for art, history and culture is reflected in each of their furnishings, welcomed international diplomats, artists, politicians and business people into their home. Together with other goldsmiths’ work and sculptures, the grape goblet was an important exhibit in the Green Salon of the New York apartment, which was furnished as a total work of art.

For drinking habits and goblets in the Renaissance and Baroque periods see: ‘Goblet shaped like a Shell’


Bachtler, M., Syndram, D. and Weinhold, U. (eds.): The fascination of collecting: Masterpieces of goldsmithing from the Rudolf-August Oetker collection, cat. Munich / Dresden, Munich 2011, pp. 114–115, cat. No. 20. (Esaias zur Linden)

Bott, G. (Ed.): Wenzel Jamnitzer and the Nuremberg goldsmith’s art 1500–1700. Goldsmith’s work – drafts, models, medals, ornamental engravings, jewelry, portraits, cat. Nürnberg, Munich 1985, p. 269, cat. No. 96; P. 286, cat.no.141. (Grape cup)

Kitzlinger C .: Nature as a model – fruits, plants and animals as shapers in goldsmithing, in: Cat. Faszination des Sammelns, 2011, pp.198–221, especially p. 201 (The Grape Cup), pp. 210–211, cat. No. 51; Pp. 212-213, cat. No. 52.

Oman C .: Medieval Silver Nefs, Victoria and Albert Museum, London 1963. (Fig. 7, to Esaias zur Linden).

Rosenberg M .: The goldsmith’s mark, 4 vols., [Reprint. the edition] Frankfurt / M. 1922-1928. (MZ4135)

Schürer, R .: The Akeleypokal, reflections on a masterpiece, in: Wenzel Jamnitzer, cat. Nuremberg 1985, pp. 107-122.

Trebbe, K. u.a .: Nürnberger Goldschmiedekunst 1541–1868, Volume I, Meister, Werke, Marken, Part 1: Textband, Nürnberg 2007, pp. 256-258, MZ0527a; P. 641, BZ13.

Trebbe, K. et al .: Nürnberger Goldschmiedekunst 1541–1868, Volume I, Meister, Werke, Marken, Part 2: Tafeln, Nürnberg 2007, fig. 124, 125, 127 (ships from Esaias zur Linden), fig. 419–428, Fig. 432. (Grape Cup)

Trebbe, K. u.a .: Nürnberger Goldschmiedekunst 1541–1868, Volume II, Goldglanz und Silberstrahl, Nürnberg 2007, p. 153, fig. 118. (Esaias zur Linden)

Trebbe, K .: Drinking and dining. Silver vessels for profane use, in Nürnberger Goldschmiedekunst 2007, Vol. II, pp. 165–195, especially pp. 167–182, Fig. 154. (Grape Cup)