Josephskanne, Bergkristall, Saracchi-Werkstatt, Mailand 1579
The jug made of rock crystal is one of a series of magnificent crystal vessels in the treasury at the Munich Residence, which Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria (reigned 1550-1579) acquired in Milan, the leading centre of lapidary art at the time.
The body of the jug was carved from a single piece of rock crystal at the famous Saracchi brothers' workshop. In keeping with the preciousness of the large crystal block, representations were engraved into the jug's wall with the highest technical and artistic effort: people, animals and plants. The frieze of figures surrounding the receptacle's body depicts two scenes from the story of Joseph from the Old Testament, which gave the magnificent jug its name.
The lid of the jug, which is also cut from a single piece of rock crystal, shows the half figure of a lion and thus refers to the Bavarian client's heraldic animal. The eyes of the lion are inserted rubies. It is wearing a precious ring in its mouth. The edge of the lid as well as the handle and the foot of the magnificent jug were elaborately designed from gilded metal and decorated with coloured enamel, precious stones and pearls.