Germany. Cowhorn, gilt-brass.
Private collection, Great Britain
While the shape of the flask and the style of the engraving place this flask towards the end of the 18th century, it would seem most likely that the armoured figures are drawn after earlier portraits of German historical figures, in commemoration of their alliance perhaps. The arms included above one of the figures closely resemble those of Pfalz and Mainz (the lion quartered with the wheel). One figure wears the collar of a Chivalric Order about his neck and the slightly fanciful depiction of the two armours is very typical of the armour included in German commemorative portraiture over the hundred years beginning in the latter part of the 16th century. The fashion for historical revivalist work, most frequently seen on powder-flasks and bone hunting-swords, existed throughout Northern Europe from the mid-18th century up to circa 1840.
With horn body of flat-sided triangular form, fitted with gilt-brass base and top each etched with scroll-work, the etched design on the base also involving an oval filled with a boar suckling its young, and the top mount with standing turned brass nozzle. The body engraved over its length on both sides with a framework filled with a decorative cartouche enclosing the finely drawn bust portrait of a nobleman dressed in armour of the late 16th century, the busts differing over the respective sides, and each with a related coat-of-arms quartered on a shield above. Preserved in very fine untouched condition.
Size: Height 19 cm / 7.5 in, Width 8.7 cm / 3.4 in