The Limoges service of the Tucher family

The so-called Tucher service is one of the most important ensembles of enamel art from the workshop of Pierre Reymond in Limoges. It consists of eight vessels: a basin dated 1558, an accompanying jug – dated later with 1562 – and four tazze (flat bowls) and two lidded bowls. The latter bear the signatures of Reymond, as do the jug and basin. The jug's silver mountings show the marks of Wenzel Jamnitzer, the most important German goldsmith of his time.

The basin from 1558 and the two lidded vessels were in the house of the patrician and highest official of the city of Nuremberg Linhart II Tucher (1487–1568) in 1560. In a letter dated 6 September 1560, the scribe and arithmetic master Johann Neudörfer the Elder assures the addressee Linhart that he has never seen a more lovely piece. Linhart must then have decided to add a jug and four footed bowls to the existing pieces to create a representative showpiece service. A letter from his son Herdegen dated 6 December 1561 states that he handled the commission for Linhart. The copper vessels, which were probably prepared in Nuremberg in the Jamnitzer workshop, were enamelled in Limoges. Linhart's coats of arms and those of his two wives Magdalena Stromer and Katharina Nützel are only on these new parts, which were completed in 1562. Basins and lidded goblets probably came from the free market.

All pieces are almost completely covered by the finest enamel painting in black and white with slight tinting of the incarnate parts and gold accents. The decoration is dominated by scrollwork with masks and putti, supplemented by tendrils and antique bands. The figurative decoration based on graphic designs is outstanding. Old Testament and mythological representations and hunting scenes are represented. For example, the basin thematises the Fall of Adam and Eve, which is contrasted with the "Cupid and Psyche" story based on "Metamorphoses" by the ancient writer Apuleius on the four footed bowls. This other kind of "fall from grace" was interpreted by the Christian author Fulgentius as meaning that Psyche, meaning the "soul", must suffer punishments as a result of its lust before it is pardoned in the Council of the Gods. She is finally allowed to marry Cupid, so the soul is united with divine love. The deer and bear hunt on the service's jug can again be interpreted in the Christian sense as a victory over evil.

>> This collection is part of the holdings of "The art collection belonging to the Tucher von Simmelsdorf family" of the Tucher’sche Kulturstiftung (Tucher Cultural Foundation) and is located in the Museum Tucherschloss und Hirsvogelsaal.

Letters: Stadtarchiv Nürnberg, E 29/IV, 232 and 1629.
Weingärtner, Helge: Das Tucherservice, in: Mitteilungen des Vereins für Geschichte der Stadt Nürnberg 95 (2008), p. 63–92.