Turned cup. German, 17th century

ivory. 23.5cm., 9¼in. Estimate 25,000—35,000 GBP. Sold 79,250 GBP


Turned cup. German, 17th century

ivory. 25cm., 9 3/4 in. Estimate 20,000—30,000 GBP. Sold 49,250 GBP

NOTE: These two intricately turned ivory cups are an excellent example of a noble tradition in European art. The turner's lathe captured the imagination of the aristocracy from the late Renaissance through to the 18th century. The remarkable manipulations of the ivory represented man's conquest over nature. The more complicated the turned ivory object was, the greater the fascination became for both sculptor and collector. In the 17th century the turning of such ivories became a favourite pastime of princes, who would employ master turners as their teachers. By the 18th century the popularity of the craft had spread and many of Europe's aristocrats were using newly published manuals (such as the ones by Plumer from 1701 and Bergeron's from 1796) for instruction and inspiration. Many of these rulers worked under the guidance of highly specialised craftsmen, who were responsible for some of the most elaborate masterpieces in turned ivory.

RELATED LITERATURE: O. Beigbeder, Ivory, London, 1965, p. 110; H. Bredekamp, La nostalgie de l'antique. Statues, machines et cabinets de curiosités, Paris, 1996; Magie de l'orfèvrerie. Faste et élégance, Antwerpen, 2004; Moritz der Gelehrte, Kassel, 1998; G. Laue, Gedrehte kostbarkeiten, Munich, 2004; K. Maurice, Der Drechselnde Souveran, Zurich, 1985; E. Tartaglia, Les ivoires tournés. MS Université Paris I, Paris, 2005


Goblet. German, 16th century

jasper, with gilt bronze mounts. 14cm., 5½in. Estimate 20,000—30,000 GBP. Sold 22,500 GBP


Four oval bowls. Italian, 18th-19th century

agate. high: 3.5 to 4.5cm., 1 3/8 to 1¾in.; wide: 9.5 to 12.5cm., 3¾ to 5in. Estimate 3,000—5,000 GBP. Sold 3,750 GBP 

RELATED LITERATURE: D. Alcouffe, Les Gemmes de la Couronne, Paris, 2001, p. 464, no. 234

Sotheby's. Old Master Sculpture and Works of Art. 09 Jul 09. London  www.sothebys.com