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Allegory of Winter from a Series of the Four Seasons

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Christoph Ertel, ca. 1670-1719ca. 1706Zittauivory, painted, silver, gilt, enamel, lead glass, sea shell cameos, agateH 19,2 cm; B 9,6 cm

This cabinet piece belongs to a splendid group of the four seasons. A female goddess embodying winter is enthroned under a baldachin, reminiscent of Baroque stage sets in structure and decor. In order to avoid a chill, the sparsely clad woman with an ermine fur draped over her legs, warms herself up over a basin with hot oil. A bundle of wood to stoke the fire with is placed by her feet. This little gem is a masterful example of courtly treasury art. Yet this masterpiece would not have been created without the examples from the goldsmith workshop of the brothers Johann Melchior (1664-1731) and Georg Friedrich Dinglinger (1666-1720) in Dresden. Nevertheless, Ertel’s work stands out from comparable ones: its jewel-like effect is not achieved by using precious materials, but through their masterful imitation, produced from simple elements.
Photo: Roman Raacke