1588 - 1662
Court ivory tankard wall with putti as Nereids and Tritons
Schwäbisch-Hall, c. 1650
11 × 13 × 11.5 cm. (4 ⅓ × 5 ¼ × 4 ½ in.)
Monogram 'LK' on scallop-shell boat on the lower edge
Provenance: Germany, private collection.
Further information: Carved with consummate mastery into reliefs, this magnificent tankard wall shows a parade of marine deities and wingèd putti, who appear as naked children against a background of bulrushes. The anatomical conception and handling of the children's bodies, the standardised faces of the putti, their various hairstyles, and even the structure of this scene, inevitably lead alert viewers to associate this exquisite ivory with the work of the man who was probably the most important ivory carver of the seventeenth century: Leonhard Kern, who was specialising in precious works of sculpture for distinguished collectors and stood out among the sculptors of his day with his unique formal idiom. The monogram, i.e. the initials 'LK' in ligature incised on the prow of the scallop-shell boat, which is formed as a grotesque, shows that this fine ivory relief is indeed a work of Leonhard Kern's - one of the few sculptures signed by the celebrated artist.