Artibus et Historiae no. 48 (XXIV)

2003, ISSN 0391-9064

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LUBOMÍR KONEČNÝ - Augustine Käsenbrot of Olomouc, his Golden Bowl in Dresden, and the Renaissance Revival of "Poetic" Bacchus

Augustine Käsenbrot's Golden Bowl of 1508 in the Grünes Gewölbe in Dresden ranks among the most important artworks associated with the Early Renaissance in Central Europe. However, its sources, function and meaning have not been so far interpreted in due detail. As this study intends to demonstrate, the plaquette used as the bowl's bottom may have been acquired by Käsenbrot while he studied in Padua in early 1490s, and may be attributed to a late fifteenth-century sculptor active in Padua or in Veneto. This exquisite piece depicts Bacchus as a winged genius, thus obviously harking back to Pausanias' description of the god, for "wine lifts and eases the spirit in the same way as wings lift birds". Thus the bowl, due to its iconography and inscriptions, relates to Bacchic mysteries as revived by Renaissance humanists, and ultimately refers to Platonic (or Neo-Platonic) theories of inspiration as "divine madness". This corresponds with what Käsenbrot opined in his early, Paduan, Dialogus in defensionem poetices, as well as with activities of one of his Paduan Professors, Niccolo Leonico Tomeo - not to speak about writings of Augustine's humanist friends in Buda, Vienna and Olomouc.

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