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Goldsmith’s Art

The Rotberg chalice from the treasury of Basle Münster

Key data

Basle, ca. 1451

Silver, embossed, cast, chased, gilded, with niello and enamel

height 21.6 cm

Inv. 1894.346.


The appeal of this well proportioned communion cup does not depend upon a wealth of decoration but on its simplicity and elegance. It has an eight lobed foot with a wide rim which has high, openwork sides. The foot rises steeply to join the octagonal stem, which develops into a knop with enamelled lozenge shaped bosses. The smooth cupa (bowl) is rather steep sided. The particular significance of the chalice derives from the two small nielloed plaques with coats of arms that are attached to the foot. The coat of arms of the Rotberg family (or, a fess sable) and that of the diocese of Basle (argent, charged with the Basle crosier) show the chalice to have belonged to Bishop Arnold von Rotberg and suggest a date around 1451, the year of his consecration as bishop. He bequeathed the cup to the Munster in 1458, where it took the place of the Eptingen chalice. It is likely to be the work of the Basle goldsmith Heinrich Schwitzer, who worked for Bishop Arnold on several occasions.

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Basel Historical Museum
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