Ensemble de quatre écussons en vermeil et argent destinés à des membres d'une corporation de fondeurs par  Christoph Ritter III, Nuremberg, circa 1656photo Sotheby's

A set of four German parcel-gilt silver shields for members of a founder's guild, Christoph Ritter III, Nuremberg, circa 1656

repoussés, ciselés et gravés sur fond amati du nom de l'artisan accompagné de ses emblèmes, datés 1656 et des noms Hanns Beck Geschworne, Georg Bernhart Weinmann, Hanns Spachel et Sigmund Bonifacius Lündner, le bord percé d'une frise de petits trous pour les coudre sur du tissu ou du cuir, quatre anneaux au dos de chacun 

embossed and chased with images of metal objects relating to the guild and guild member names with date 1656, Hanns Beck Geschworne/Georg Bernhart Weinmann/Hanns Spachel/Sigmund Bonifacius Lündner, borders pierced for pinning to material, reverses with fixing rings

Diam. 27 cm, 1 657 g ; 10 5/8 in, 53 oz 5dwt. Lot 117. ESTIMATION 60,000-90,000 EUR

PROVENANCE: Baron Karl von Rothschild
Baronne James de Rothschild
Sothebys Londres, 13 février 1969
Sothebys Genève, 24 mai 1993, lot 189
Albrecht Neuhaus Kunsthandel
Collection privée européenne Private European collector

EXHIBITED: Ein Rheinischer Silberschatz. Schmuck und Gerät aus Privatbesitz, Cologne, 1980, nos 289-292

LITTERATURE: E.A Jones, Catalogue of the objects in Gold and Silver amd the Limoges enamels in the Collection of the Baroness James de Rothschild, London, 1912, Pl. XCI
Nürnberger Goldschmiedekunst 1541-1868, German Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, 2007, no 730/10. Illus. 749 and 750
Ralf Schürer, dissertation, Die Goldschmiedefamilie Ritter, university of Würzburg, 2004, pp. 323-326

NOTE DE CATALOGUEThese shields were clearly made as a group in celebration of a bronze workers founder's guild, probably the founder's guild of Nuremberg. The presence of a skull and cherub on one of them might indicate that they were made as `coffin shields', as they always have been described, although the overwhelming impression they give is of celebration not death. It seems likely that the people mentioned were either the donors of the shields, or people that the guild wished to thank and commemorate. Perhaps in memory of the reprieve that Nuremberg experienced from the bubonic plague epidemic which effected other areas, such as Italy where in Naples half the population died from the desease in 1656. A satirical print by Paul Furst, Dr Schnabel von Rom, published in Nuremberg in 1656 alludes to this event and shows a detailed knowledge of the accoutrements of a plague doctor.

Sotheby's. Importante Orfèvrerie Européenne, Boîtes en Or et Objets de Vitrine. Paris | 18 avr. 2012, 10:30 AM www.sothebys.com