The J. Paul Getty Museum

Covered Standing Cup

Object Details


Covered Standing Cup


Marcus Heiden (German, active by 1618 until at least 1664)




Coburg, Germany (Place Created)


1631; probably with later 17th century figural elements



Object Number:



63.5 × 11.7 cm (25 × 4 5/8 in.)

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Object Description

Turned ivories, or ivory objects worked on a lathe to create varying geometric forms, were popular among European princely collectors in the 1600s. The sense of precarious balance caused by carving the cup so that its components seem to spin around a shifting vertical axis would have been a source of amusement for these aristocrats. The chubby, nude infants that play musical instruments around the body and on the stem of the vessel and the cherub with his bow and arrow on the top were probably added later in the century.

This stemmed cup was made as a work of art to amaze and astonish and was never actually used. Only highly skilled craftsmen could produce such fragile, intricate forms, and much ivory, an extremely costly and rare material, must have been wasted before a perfect vessel was produced. So valued were these ivory objects that on at least one occasion in the 1630s, a German collection of them was seized as war booty by the invading Catholic army and carried off to Florence as the victor's reward.

- 1632

Presumed to have been made for duke Johann Casimir of Saxe-Coburg, 1564 - 1633, seized by Colonel Giovanni Giovacchino Keller of SchaiKaine during the sack of Coburg in 1632.

- 1990

Private Collection (Germany), sold to Same Art Inc., 1990.

1990 - 1991

Same Art Ltd. Zürich, Switzerland, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991.


E. von Philippovich, "Elfenbein" (Bibliothek für Kunst-und Antiquitäetenfreunde, vol. XVII), (Munich, 1982), p. 422, fig. 372.

K. Maurice, "Der Drechselnde Souverän, Materialien zu einer fürstlichen Maschinenkunst" (Zürich, 1984), pp. 74 and 152, fig. 78.

"Report 1991-1992." The J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles: 1993, p. 15.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 4th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 258, ill.

Fusco, Peter. Summary Catalogue of European Sculpture in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 28, ill.

Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Decorative Arts (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), pp. 40-41, no. 29.

Fusco, Peter, Peggy Anne Fogelman, and Marietta Cambareri. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: European Sculpture (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1998), pp. 60-61, no. 18, ill., entry by Peggy Anne Fogelman and Peter Fusco.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 258, ill.