A Russian Imperial presentation covered gilded silver cup, Gavrila Gavrilov Zon, Moscow, 1762. The baluster-form cup, domed foot, and cover chased and repoussé with multiple teardrop-shaped lobes, each lobe chased and repoussé with matted scroll- and shellwork, the stem formed as a wild man in a tree finely engraved in imitation of bark, the wild man brandishing a hatchet, and the area above and below with curling silverwork suggesting the leaves of a forest, the slip-on cover surmounted by a gilt Imperial double-headed eagle with additional curling silverwork at its base, struck with maker’s mark, and Cyrillic initials AG of an unidentified Moscow assayer. Height 13 3/8 in. (35.3 cm).
The wild man was a mythical woodland creature frequently used in Central European goldwork. Rooted in the Classical tradition of the satyr and faun, his appearance in medieval art was meant to symbolize a brutish or irrational force; by the 16th century, the meaning had changed and now symbolized fortitude, might, and other characteristics of a successful military leader. Numerous pieces of Nuremburg silver and gold presented to Russia’s tsars and held in the Kremlin Armory introduced the form to gold- and silversmiths active in the Armory Workshops in the 17th and early 18th centuries.
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