Carved Cup

View of carved cup made out of rhinoceros horn

Southern German, possibly by Georg Pfründt (1603–63)
Carved Cup
Second half of 17th century
Rhinoceros horn
H. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm); diam. 4 13/16 in. (12.2 cm)
Gift of Alexis Gregory, 2021
Photo Joseph Coscia Jr.


Carved cups made from exotic materials were highly sought after during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. At the time of this cup’s making, rhinoceros and “unicorn” horns—likely narwhal tusks—were believed to be antidotes to poison. This cup depicts a procession in which the main figure holds a staff and wears a tunic, crown, and necklaces. An attendant is fanning him, and several figures are holding or playing musical instruments, while others carry a dish and a ewer for what seems to be a banquet. The bottom part of the body of the cup is decorated with garlands of fruit, and the foot of the cup depicts several men hunting an elephant and a rhinoceros.

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