Discover entertaining essays on a wide variety of artworks from our extensive collections in the section Art Stories.
During his lifetime Georg Petel, who was born in Weilheim in Upper Bavaria, visited among other places Antwerp, Paris, Genoa, and Rome. After his wanderings he settled down in Augsburg, which at the time was a leading exporter of handcrafted luxury goods
Petel was close friends with the most famous painter of the Baroque north of the Alps, Peter Paul Rubens.
Ruben’s example and aesthetic inspired the motifs that wind and twist without end around the vessel. At the centre stands the drunken Silenus, goat-legged satyrs, male and female, struggle to prop him up. Music and dance heighten the collective delirium. Those who indulge to excess risk stultification, coarsening, and inopportune lust.
The artistic interpretation echoes these themes rather than merely soberly representing them. Ivory is a luxurious material; the intertwined, forceful sculptural forms, naturalistic surfaces, and uncompromisingly realistic figures adorn this magnificent drinking vessel.