An attractive medieval German gilt-brass chalice

Image of An attractive medieval German gilt-brass chalice

An attractive medieval German gilt-brass chalice

Region of Mutschau, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany; early 15th century
Gilt brass; approximate size: 19.2 cm (h)

The present chalice, elegant in its unpretentious character, features a cup secured to a hexagonal stem with a decorative ovular knob. Its polylobed base is engraved: "Die gemeine zu Mutschau 1773,” referring to the community of Mutschau, Germany.

This chalice once belonged to a small German settlement established in 1080 which lasted a millennia before the village’s inhabitants were relocated and the town subsequently destroyed for the purpose of mining industry. The village of Mutschau was publicly deleted from the German registers on 1 December 1962.

Local history documents the presence of a medieval church within the village that was destroyed on 24 June 1774 when a fire vanquished it along with twenty-one local farmsteads. If our chalice belonged to this church, its provenance may have been entirely lost if its patrons had not recorded it months prior, in 1773, engraving its base with the marking of the community to which it belonged.

The simple design of this chalice associates it with similar surviving chalices from the beginning of the 15th century, like one example in the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin (Inv. O-1969,29). These chalices were created not as much for function as intended to be placed upon the graves of deceased clergymen of high office. Its polylobed base recalls others emanating from North Eastern Germany during the 15th century.