A Rare North East German Danzig Finely Carved Horn and Amber Powder Flask with Silver Mounts
An amber panel to the base set with an oval relief of a stag hunt beneath an amber jewel the horn profusely carved with a Ducal Coat of Arms and an Ornate Trophy of Arms the spout carved as a fantastical grotesque fish with amber eyes
1st Quarter of the 18th Century
Size: 20.5cm long, 3cm deep (max) - 8 ins long 1¼ ins deep (max)
Provenance: Ex Private collection
cf: St Petersburg State Hermitage Museum inv. no: 4760
Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum Kunstkammer inv. no: 8358 and 8359
The use of amber was an aristocratic privilege in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, and this powder flash is remarkable for the successful combination of various materials. There has been a long tradition of making accessories for sporting guns, and in particular powder flasks, decorated with mythical scenes or armorials. It is probable that this flask was commissioned from a maker of guns and accessories in north east Germany where work in Baltic amber was more commonly undertaken.
Used as a small container for gunpowder, essential for muzzle loading guns, powder flasks became elaborately decorated works of art, worn as emblems of power and status, when paraded as part of the ceremonial hunting dress of an aristocratic sportsman.