PROPERTY FROM THE LATE LUDWIG THEODOR VON RAUTENSTRAUCH COLLECTION
Ernst of Bavaria was created Bishop of Munster in 1585, making that date the earliest possible year for the addition of the armorial disc to the bowl. It is probably that this transformation, occurred sometime around 1585 and included the addition of its high foot1, elevating it as a piece of sideboard or alter plate fitting the exalted status of its owner. Ernst of Bavaria was the son of Albert V, Duke of Bavaria and Anna of Austria. His maternal grandfather and great uncle therefore were Holy Roman Emperors Ferdinand I and Charles V. So many offices were accumulated by prince Ernst, including the electoral see of Cologne, the Bishoprics of Liege, Freising, Munster, Hildesheim, and the Abbeys of Stavelot, -Malmedy as well as possessions from his secular heritage of Westphalia, Bouillon Arnsberg, Logne, Horn, Looz, Franchimont, Engern and the Palatinate, that `with his election to the episcopal throne of Münster he presided over a territory almost as large as the Dutch Provinces’ (David M. Luebke, Hometown Religion: Regimes of coexistence in early modern Westphalia, University of West Virginia, page following footnote 26.)
A Reichsthaler of 1608 minted in Moritzberg in the diocese of Hildesheim, where Prince Ernst was created bishop in 1573, similarly represents his armorial achievement (see for example Auktion Fritz Rudolf Kunker 223, The Popken Collection Berlin, 2013, nr. 391). The coats of arms on the coin are in the same order as on the bowl except that those of the bishops of Munster and Hildesheim have been transposed2.
A possible function of this drinking bowl, has been described, on the basis of 16th century documents, by Hugo Miguel Crespo, in At the Prince's table, dining at the Lisbon Court (1500-1700), Lisbon, 2018 pp. 68 et sec. Bowls such as this, were known as taças para salva, or bowls for the ritual of assay or saving, where drink was tested for poison before being offered to the prince. While other items were also used in this ritual, such as washbasins for water, trencher dishes for bread and other food, and spoons for sweet items, the drinking bowl took on the name of the ritual, in the word Salva or Salver. The royal drink, in a two handled cup, would be brought in by the official cup-bearer, on a bowl such as the present example which also acted as a stand. The cup-bearer would pour some of the liquid into the bowl from the cup and taste it before offering the cup to his master and transferring the bowl to the display cupboard. The bowl is surprisingly effective as a means of pouring for tasting. The highly embossed ornament creates conduits for the liquid to accumulate in one spot and while passing over the plain channel, which is a feature of all bowls of this type, the liquid could be inspected for colour and impurities
The provenance of the bowl following the death of Ernst of Bavaria is unknown, but at some point it became the property of the Rautenstrauch family. Rautenstrauch tradition locates it within the family from at least the 18th century, probably with Franz Stephan Rautenstrauch (1734-1785) who became abbot of the Benedictine monastery of Břevnov, near Prague, in 1773. He was an important Catholic theologian, jurist and figure of the Enlightenment, whose Synopsis Juris ecclesiasti publici et privati of 1769 which omitted Papal Infallibility and the doctrine of Immaculate Conception, became the yardstick for catholic teaching in Maria Theresa’s Austria. (New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2003, Encylopedia.com)
1The fluted foot is similar to the original bases of the Aldobrandini Tazzas of 1587-99. See: The Silver Caesars, a Renaissance Mystery, Julia Siemon ed., Metropolitan Museum, 2017, plates 2, 4, 5 etc.
2 For this very rare coin see also Manfred Mehl, Die Münzen des Bistums Hildesheim – Der Prägezeitraum 1599 bis 1783’, Hamburg, 2002
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