Silver-gilt tazza with a scene showing Vulcan's Forge

From Augsburg, Germany, about AD 1575-1600

This object is now on display in a new gallery on the ground floor, Room 2a: The Waddesdon Bequest.

This silver-gilt tazza (footed bowl) bears the mark of a member of the Spitzmacher family of goldsmiths, possibly Salomon II Spitzmacher (master 1566, died 1611). The decoration in relief was produced by raising the surface of the silver from the reverse (embossing), after which the surface was worked on the front (chasing). The embossing and chasing on the central roundel of the bowl is of very high quality, and reveals a sophisticated understanding of techniques and spatial arrangement of figures.

The scene shows Venus and Cupid at Vulcan's forge. In Greek mythology, Vulcan is the god of fire and the blacksmith who forged weapons for many of the gods and heroes. His assistants are the Cyclops – one-eyed giants, although usually depicted with normal eyes, who tend the furnace or wield hammers. In this rendition of the mythological scene, Venus and Cupid watch Vulcan at work. The roundel may be related to the work of the celebrated goldsmith Hans Jamnitzer (about 1538-1603), and is based on an engraving dated 1546 by the Antwerp master Cornelis Bos (about 1510-1556).

Tazze were often the product of two workshops, with the stem and the bowl being made separately. Here the stem is formed of a fantastic creature, comprising three birds heads above female torsos encased in strapwork, with lion masks in high relief. Its design and execution are typical of sixteenth-century work in the Mannerist style by goldsmiths in Augsburg and Nuremburg.

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More information


H. Tait, Catalogue of the Waddesdon B-1 (London, 1988)


Height: 12.700 cm
Diameter: 20.000 cm (bowl)
Diameter: 20.000 cm (bowl)
Weight: 444.000 gm

Museum number

M&ME Waddesdon Bequest 98


Bequeathed by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild


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