Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Beaker with Apes

ca. 1425–50
Made in probably the Burgundian territories
South Netherlandish
Silver, silver gilt, and painted enamel
Overall: 7 7/8 x 4 5/8 in. (20 x 11.7 cm)
Credit Line:
The Cloisters Collection, 1952
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 14
One of the finest surviving examples of medieval enamel created for a princely table, this beaker was probably made for the Burgundian court. It illustrates a popular legend that remarks on the folly of man. A peddler is robbed by a band of apes as he sleeps. The peddler, seen just above the base, fails to stir even as the apes strip away his clothes. Other apes, having taken his goods, cavort in the branches overhead. The beaker, which originally had a cover, is decorated with "painted" enamel, so called because the material was applied freely over the silver, without the grooves that separate the colors in champlevé enameling or the incised patterns that provide guidelines for the application of translucent enamels. The unusual and adept grisaille (shades of gray) enamel technique is found on several other surviving objects, all of which have been associated with the courts of the dukes of Burgundy.
Inscription: Inscribed at top: ARTIBVS QVISTA GLORIA
Piero de Medici, Florence (in 1464?) ; Earls of Arundel, England (from 1585?-until 1889?) ; Karl Thewalt, Cologne (by 1900-1903) ; [ Jacques Seligmann, Paris and New York (purchased 1903)] ; J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (by 1908 - 1928?) ; [ Duveen Brothers, London, Paris and New York (sold 1928)] ; [ Julius Böhler Kunsthandlung, Munich (1928)] ; Alfred Rütschi, Zurich (before 1929 - by descent to 1952) ; [ Rosenberg & Stiebel, New York (in 1952)]
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