Joke Glass (Scherzgefäss)

Object Details


Joke Glass (Scherzgefäss)




German or Netherlandish


Germany or Netherlands (Place created)


17th century


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.)

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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 pincered glass thread forms the hat brim, collar, vest, and ribbon trim on the breeches. The plumed hat band, belt, buckle and sword were added in silver.

Related Works

"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.

Bremer-David, Charissa et al. Decorative Arts: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1993), p. 248, no. 437.

Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Decorative Arts (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 39, no. 28.

Wilson, Gillian, and Catherine Hess. Summary Catalogue of European Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 230, no. 471.

Related Media
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    Audio: Joke Glass