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Beaker
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Unknown
Probably northern Bohemian or Saxon, 1599
Free-blown cobalt-blue glass with gold leaf and enamel decoration
H: 4 1/2 in.
84.DK.557

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As painted on this beaker, the biblical figure of Elijah sits at a table with his arm lifted toward a raven descending with a basket in its beak. Behind this scene in large enamel letters are the words: Elijah in the desert, in the year 1599.The subject illustrates a verse from the Book of Kings in the Bible: "And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank of the brook." Scholars have no way of knowing whether the quotation held other symbolic importance to the seventeenth-century drinker beyond the obvious reference to nourishment.

Cobalt-blue glass was invented by the ingenious glassmaker Christopher Schürer, who in the middle of the 1500s obtained cobalt oxide in order to produce certain ceramic pigments and colored glass.


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