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Currently on view at: Getty Center, Museum North Pavilion, Gallery N104
Joke Glass (Scherzgefäss)
German or Netherlandish
Free-blown pale green glass with applied decoration; silver and silver-gilt mounts
34.3 x 10.8 x 10.8 cm (13 1/2 x 4 1/4 x 4 1/4 in.)
This rare glass was designed to be as difficult as possible to drink from without spilling the alcoholic beverage within. The tube attached to the head and terminating in the man's open nose could serve as a straw. The goal was to amuse the onlookers at the expense of the imbiber: in drinking competitions, the drinker had to guess how to drink from the vessel; if any liquor was spilled, he was required to start again with a full glass.
Called a "joke glass," this is the world's only intact example resembling a man. These glasses more commonly took the form of a stag, another animal, a horn, a penis, or a boot. This man's elaborate decoration in glass and silver is also unusual. Delicate
"Acquisitions/1984." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 13 (1985), p. 254, no. 239.
Ricke, H. ed. Reflex der Jahrhunderte: Die Glassammlung des Kunstmuseums Düsseldorf mit Sammlung Hentich, eine Auswahl (Dusseldorf, 1989), p. 66, no. 107.