15 June, 12:05

Pleasure and discretion: the ivory cup of Balthasar Griesmann

Pleasure and discretion: the ivory cup of Balthasar Griesmann
17th-century German artist Balthasar Griesmann is the creator of intricate ivory sculptures. For a long time, very little was known about him, until in the 90s of the last century a biography of the master was found in the archives of Salzburg (Austria). According to records, Griesmann settled in Salzburg in the 1670s, and here he probably created one of his most beautiful works - a bowl with antique motifs. In his work, the artist often borrowed subjects from the paintings and engravings of Annibale Carracci, Lucas Cranach the Elder, and others.
This bowl is one example of borrowing. Here Griesmann draws on Otto van Veen’s painting “Allegory of the Temptations of Youth.” The central character is a young man around whom the ancient gods gathered. While the goddess of wisdom Minerva squeezes the man's left hand, calling for restraint, on the other hand Bacchus holds out a goblet of wine to him. Little Cupid holds the young man's head so that he looks at Venus, who promises carnal pleasures. Thus, the composition encourages moderation during pleasures.
Griesmann used every centimeter of available surface - Bacchic motifs cover the entire bowl. The leg is decorated with bunches of grapes, and little putti frolic on the base and lid. The absence of handles or a smooth surface indicates that this is a decorative element and not a utilitarian item.

To participate in the discussion, please log in.
We use essential cookies for the proper functioning of the website and additional ones to make interaction with the site as convenient as possible. It helps us personalize your user experience as well as obtain analytical information to improve the service. If you agree to accept all cookies, click "Accept all"; if not, click "Only essential". To learn more, view the Cookie Policy.