Ivory, Gold, Diamonds, Copper, Enamel
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Let’s say you’re a wealthy prince in the Seventeenth Century. How will you pass your time? One of the least objectionable ways for princes, nobles and scholars to tick down the hours was to collect nifty and precious items like this, and, then, display them and talk about them with other princes, nobles and scholars. Often, these prized objects were commissioned, but, sometimes, they were hunted down for fun.
This ivory ship, is made all the more precious by the addition of gold, diamonds, enameled decorations and applied figures rendered in enamels. It’s certainly the kind of thing which would have appealed to a wealthy collector,
Sadly, we know nothing of the circumstances by which this model was commissioned. According to the V&A, “A similar, though larger, ivory and gold model frigate is preserved in the collections of the Dukes of Saxony, in the Green Vault at Dresden. The Dresden example (dated 1620) was made by Jacob Zeller for the Prince Elector Christian II of Saxony.”
Since this example is so similar to the one from the court of Christian II, we might guess that this one was commissioned as a companion to it. It was made sometime between 1620 and 1650.