Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Nautilus cup

Dutch, Utrecht
Nautilus shell, with gilded silver mounts
Overall: 11 × 6 5/8 × 4 1/4 in. (27.9 × 16.8 × 10.8 cm)
Metalwork-Silver In Combination
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 521
Over the course of the sixteenth century, rulers like Albrecht V, Duke of Bavaria (who claimed to spend annually on his collections the equivalent of yearly salaries for one thousand soldiers), increasingly supplemented treasuries of precious metals with natural wonders, or naturalia. These collections were assembled in suites of rooms called Kunstkammern, or curiosity cabinets. Set in fantastical mounts, lustrous nautilus shells like this one brought the distant Indian Ocean to the North. Building on the belief that owning a universe in microcosm indicated actual dominancy, Albrecht and his contemporaries opened up their Kunstkammern for the admiration and erudition of their guests.

[Elizabeth Cleland, 2017]
Inscription: Rectangular paper label (removed from underside of foot): printed in black ink: 458; further inscribed in pencil: P.M. 1022

Marking: [1] unidentified maker's mark;
[2] Utrecht mark, end 16th century–first quarter 17th century;
[3] G encircled (Utrecht date letter for 1602);
[4] O crowned and encircled (Dutch verification mark for old work, 1807–10);
[5] V encircled and crowned (Dutch import mark for large work in gold or silver, 1859–1909);
[6] cock in a vertical octagon (mark of French provinces second standard silver, 1809–19);
[7] Boars head (Paris mark for silver, restricted warranty, 1838 to present);

Location of marks:
[1]–[3] under lip (difficult to decipher);
[4], [5] on top of foot rim;
[6] on top of lip;
[7] on top of lip and, twice, on foot rim
Mr. Eugen Gutmann , Berlin (by 1903) ; J. Pierpont Morgan (until 1917; to MMA)
Related Objects

Cup with cover

Artist: Hans van Amsterdam (recorded 1535–65) Date: 1533/34 Medium: Silver gilt, coconut shell Accession: 17.190.622a, b On view in:Not on view

Holy-water stoup with relief of Mary of Egypt

Artist: Giovanni Giardini (Italian, Forlì 1646–1722 Rome) Date: ca. 1702 Medium: Lapis lazuli, silver, and gilded bronze Accession: 1995.110 On view in:Gallery 550


Artist: First scene after a print by Jan van de Velde II (Dutch, Rotterdam or Delft ca. 1593–1641 Enkhuizen) Date: probably 1629, with later inscriptions Medium: Silver Accession: 40.54 On view in:Gallery 636

Brandy bowl

Date: 1682 Medium: Silver Accession: 13.135.4 On view in:Gallery 636

William III, Prince of Orange (1650–1702), at the Age of Four

Artist: Pieter van Abeele (Dutch, 1608–1684) Date: 1654 Medium: Silver: two cast chased shells soldered together Accession: L.2013.46.2 On view in:Gallery 636