Western European Metal Artworks

Travel set in leather suitcase (storage chest)

    Travel set in leather suitcase (storage chest)

    Germany, Augsburg

    1745-1761

    Gottlieb Satzger, Johann Wilhelm Dammann, Johann V Beckert, Johann Erhard II Hoglin, Adam Johann Jacob, Emanuel Drentvett

    Wood, leather, metal, velvet (suitcase), silver, wood, mirror; forging, cutting, carving, gilding, casting, chasing, engraving, punching

    40.7 x 87.5 x 60.7 cm (suitcase)

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    “Travel toilette service or "silver suitcase" is a large suitcase with the items for the morning toilette and meals, writing and sewing utensils. The first makers of such services that came to fashion in the 18th century were goldsmiths of the "free" imperial city Augsburg, one of the major artistic centers in Germany in the 16th-18th centuries, which was under the House of Habsburg until the 19th century.

    By the 1740s, Augsburg had reached the peak of its flourishing and acquired the fame of the major silver items supplier, which was facilitated by its advantageous geographical location on the trade routes passing from the south of Germany to the north of Italy, the availability of its own raw stuff - gold and silver ores and large number of skillful jewelers that worked in this period. Thus, in 1722, there were 254 artisans in the city, and in the 1740s, there were already 275. European royal houses were supplied with numerous products of Augsburg goldsmiths; representatives of prosperous wealthy burghers and aristocracy were among the customers. Masterly executed items made of precious metals, displayed in special multi-tiered constructions – sideboards (counters), were designed to demonstrate the wealth and status of their owner. Often they were presented as a reward for service or purchased for treasure houses and numerous cabinets of curiosities (Kunstkameras) that emerged in Europe in the 16th century.

    The travel toilette service that is presented in the museum Collection exposition is a rare example of Augsburg gold making in the 18th century. It was created in 1745-1761 by the artisans Gottlieb Satzger (1709-1783), Johann Wilhelm Dammann (1716-1784), Johann V. Beckert (1725-1777), Johann Erhard II Hreiglin (Hoglin), Adam Johann Jacob (1720-1791), Emanuel Drentwett (1679-1753). Currently, the service consists of forty items. They are - a mirror, a hand-washing set, toilette boxes of various sizes on the trays, flasks, décrassoir, pelote, snuffbox, vergette, candlesnuffers with tray, candlesticks, bowls with lids, tazza, flatware, goblets, сoquetier and soup bowl. All items are vermeil, realized in the Rocaille style and are located on two levels of the large wooden leather-covered suitcase. Its lower compartment is designed as a withdrawable drawer that can be pulled out if the suitcase front rectangular doors are opened.

    It is generally regarded that about thirty such Augsburg travel services have survived to our days. These "sets" differed from each other, the contents depended on the customer's requirements. This is evidenced by the "silver suitcases" stored Maximilian Museum in Augsburg (Germany) and the Metropolitan Museum in New York (USA), with slightly different items.

    As noted by the researchers, the high value of the travel service did not mean its use while traveling. Such sets carried out presentation function, being a part of a noble lady wardrobe. During the ceremony of morning reception and subsequent dressing ritual, when a lady welcomed her first guests, the service served as a kind of ceremonial "utensil". Usually a woman received such a valuable item as a wedding present from her father or as a “morning” gift from her husband. The imperial city of Augsburg endowed the highest persons with such valuable gifts as well, for example, the Habsburg princess, later - the French queen Marie Antoinette (1755-1793) that stayed in the city in 1770 during her trip to France. The travel service stored in the museum Collection, according to the legend, belonged to Johann Friedrich Karl von Ostein (1689-1763) - Archbishop of Mainz since 1743. If we consider that such suitcases were generally intended for women, then it can be assumed that the archbishop could have purchased it for his early widowed younger sister, Countess Marie Antoinette von Bassenheim, née Ostein (1710-1788), for whom in 1743, by his order, a palace was erected. It has survived to our days and is called the Bassenheymer-Hof.


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