A new exhibit of the month is on view at the entrance to the UPM’s Permanent Collection:
Box and cover, containing a goblet and little cups
first half of the 17th century
maple, turned and carved
inv. no. 78 021
This cylindrical box, decorated with ringed lathe-work, with a stepped cover, a goblet on a finely turned foot, which amazingly contains 92 tiny cups. Pieces like this, decorated with subtle turning, were samples of the virtuosic craftsmanship of the sixteenth and seventeenth-century artisans and were, like objets d’art, items from nature (for example, minerals), also a collector’s curio. Such pieces were also part of the renowned collection of Rudolf II, the Habsburg emperor, at Prague Castle. They were made in the artisans’ workshops at the courts of noblemen and royalty. Sometimes these aristocrats even delighted in making such objects themselves.
This turned box comes from the Nostitz collection in Prague, which was established in the seventeenth century by Otto von Nostitz (1608–1664) and his half-brother, Johann Hertwig Nostitz-
Rieneck (1610–1683). Apart from a splendid picture gallery, it also contained objects from the Rudolfine collections. This box and several similar artefacts were transferred from the National Gallery in Prague to the collections of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague in the 1960s.
Lit.: Dana Stehlíková, Kabinety umění a kuriozit / Cabinets of Arts and Curiosities, exh. cat., UPM, 1995, no. 289. Daniela Karasová et al., Formas e ambientes/Shapes and Spaces, exh. cat., Prague and Lisbon: UPM and FRESS, 2005, p. 52.