Jamnitzer workshop, Nuremberg, ca. 1570/80
Cast lead, height 11 cm
The two halves of the model were used to cast an octagonal handle for a dagger in bronze or silver. The model was probably designed either by the Nuremberg master Bartel Jamnitzer (1548-1596) or in the workshop of his famous father, Wentzel Jamnitzer. This delicate piece of small sculpture is an outstanding example of the refined courtly taste of the Renaissance in Germany, and is typical in its fascination with the antique, both formally and iconographically. The inspiration of the antique dictates every element of the decoration of this volute shaped handle, and the Roman deities Minerva and Mercury and Mars and Venus occupy the niches of the upper and lower registers respectively. Further standing and reclining figures and a frieze with puttos make the handle resemble a richly populated miniature.