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Nautilus Cup
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Nautilus Cup

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description Shells of the pearly chambered nautilus were imported from the Indian and Pacific Oceans as natural marvels because of the lustrous beauty of the shell when polished and its amazing interior structure. A luxurious drinking vessel for court feasts, this cup underscores the host's magnificence and power over nature. Goldsmiths designing the mounts for these shells gave free rein to their imaginations, fashioning figures such as Atlas, a legendary titan of Greco-Roman mythology, who was said to balance the heavens on his back. The artist playfully calls attention to the artful contradictions of the piece. Although the shell is very light, Atlas' muscles are flexed in strain.
Date Description Narrative
10/01/1947Treatmentcleaned; coated
9/23/1986Examinationexamined for condition
9/29/1986Treatmentcleaned; stabilized; loss compensation; coated; other
2/09/1988Examinationexamined for condition
5/02/2005Treatmentcleaned; coated; other
  • World of Wonder. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1971-1972.
Provenance Caspar Bourgeois and Stephen Bourgeois, Cologne, by purchase; Sale, Cologne, October 19, 1904, no. 554; Raoul Heilbronner, Paris [date of acquisition unknown], by purchase; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1908, by purchase, Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1908

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ca. 1630 (Baroque)
nautilus shell, gilded on silver mounts
(Gold, Silver & Jewelry)
Accession Number
8 11/16 in. (22.1 cm)


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