Oval dish on a stem
Jacob Heise (verified 1654-1667 in Königsberg)
Königsberg, ca 1660
Height 7.7 cm, width 10.5 cm
Published in: Laue, G.: Tresor. Treasures for European Kunstkammer, Munich 2017, pp. 156-157, pp. 234-235, Cat. No. 44; Werner, M./Laue, G.: Bernstein - Sigmar Polke - Amber, New York 2006, p. 76, p. 104; Laue, G.: Bernstein. Kostbarkeiten Europäischer Kunstkammern. Amber. Treasuries for European Kunstkammer, Munich 2006, pp. 200-201, cat. no. 1; Seipel, W. (ed.): Bernstein für Thron und Altar. Das Gold des Meeres in fürstlichen Kunst- und Schatzkammern. Exhibition at the Alte Geistliche Schatzkammer, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna 2005, pp. 60-61, cat. no. 30
Exhibited at: Michael Werner Gallery New York, „Bernstein – Sigmar Polke – Amber“, November 7, 2006–January 13, 2007; Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Alte Geistliche Schatzkammer, „Bernstein für Thron und Altar. Das Gold des Meeres in fürstlichen Kunst- und Schatzkammern“, October 5, 2005- January 29, 2006
Worked from a single piece of transparent amber, the oval bowl of the dish rises above a clear, balaster stem. The everted lip is made of several joined pieces of cloudy amber. An oval medallion of transparent amber is set into the floor of the bowl. It covers a carved ivory relief showing a recumbent nude female figure with a raised wine cup – an allegory of Abundance. Marine scenes are carved in high relief in the clear amber wall of the bowl. Winged putti on scaly sea monsters populate a turbulent marine landscape. A border of floral and foliate decoration runs all the way round above the scenes, which are punctuated at intervals by horned mascarons.
Both the exceptionally high quality of the workmanship distinguishing this small dish and the marine representations point unequivocally to the Königsberg master in amber Jacob Heise. The attribution to him is based on comparison with a signed magnificent vessel in the form of a nautilus shell made by Jacob Heise in Königsberg in 1659 that has survived in the Grünes Gewölbe in Dresden in almost pristine condition. Originally conceived as a diplomatic present of the first order, it was sent in 1662 as such a state present by Friedrich Wilhelm, Elector of Brandenburg, to Johann Georg II, Elector of Saxony (inv. no. IV 340). A nautilus vessel in Königsberg Palace comparable to the one in Dresden has been listed as lost since 1945. The magnificent vessel made by Heise in 1654 in turn shows virtually identical marine scenes with winged putti on sea monsters (Rohde 1937, nos. 130 and 131, pl. 55). Yet another dish on four ball feet, signed by Jacob Heise and dated 1663, which bears similar marine representations, came from the treasury of the Princes Esterházy and is now in the Budapest Applied Arts Museum (Rohde 1937, nos. 137 and 138).
The little dish represents a significant addition to the known work of the important master in amber Jacob Heise.