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Unicorn Lake as a drinking vessel, Elias Geyer (Goldsmith), Leipzig, 1600. Turbo snail shell, silver, gilt, remains of cold enamel. H 20.0 cm, W 22.0 cm, D 8 cm above. IV 133. Green Vault. © Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden 2013

The sea-unicorn, which in 1602 acquired Elector Christian II at the Leipzig merchants Veit Bottiger, is like the other such works by Elias Geyer equipped with a detachable head, which seems to point to a possible use as a drinking vessel. On closer examination, this turns out, however, as little sense as the filled liquid between shell and silver mounts would run out. Even if the mythical creatures are recorded in the art collection inventories as drinking vessels, they may have been, therefore, hardly used as such. You see yourself as ingenious goldsmiths sculptures that defy mere utilitarian function and refer to the intrinsic connection between nature and art.