The Reichsadler-humpen: A test and a masterwork
The Reichsadler-humpen is a style of enameled German glass, which displayed the Heraldic representation of the parts of the Holy Roman Empire. It was an important piece to the patron, the recipient, and the artist. The double headed eagle was used as the centerpiece to represent the Holy Roman Empire and signified with its’ outstretched wings the embracing of all of its parts. “The breast bears either a crucifix, indication of the God-willed protectorate of the Emperor or, more frequently, the orb of state, the Emperor’s secular symbol.”
“The wings are usually covered by fifty-six shields; flaming coronal motifs, symbols of the Order of the Golden Fleece, are put along their edges. With the exception of the top row which includes the seven Electors and, for the sake of symmetry, the Apostolic See, they have shields are arranged in vertically oriented groups of four. They represent the Quaterniones Inperii, the ‘reichsständige Quatuorvirate.’ The idea was to have four representatives of each category and profession within the structure of the Holy Roman Empire, thus forming on great ‘democratic’ body”
The Quaterniones Inperii, the ‘reichsständige Quatuorvirate is a collection of engravings and woodcuts. The first known copy dates to 1460 in Peter von Andlau’s De Imperio Romano.
The ribbons above each shield are the names of those arms listed and the ribbons at the bottom of each row identify the particular group. The symbols of the Order of the Golden Fleece most often found are the flaming and crowned flint stone. Many Reichsadler pieces bear the names, coats of arms, initials and other designations of the owners. Ninety-five percent of the known pieces where enameled on the humpen style glass. The theme of these pieces was enameled with different stylistic motifs. Glass Curators can categorize the known period pieces by these features and can identify the location and/or school of origin.
To the artist, this was an important piece. As this piece was very difficult to complete, their Masters used it as a test for apprentices as a final piece. Glass enamellers were given the task of enameling the piece in one and a half days. If the piece was completed in time and to the expected level of expertise, the student was then elevated to the rank of Master Glazier (glass enameller).
Saldern, Axel von. German Enameled Glass. The Edwin J. Beinecke Collection and Related Pieces. New York: The Corning Museum of Glass, publ. 1965
About the Artist: Cyndi Maners
Cyndi Maners has been studying 16th century German art since 1999. Her love for German enameled glass began after viewing a private art collection in Worms, Germany. Mrs. Maners enjoys other art forms as calligraphy, illumination, enameling, beading, fiber arts and sewing. Cyndi is known as Frieherrin Adelheid Leinwater in the Society for Creative Anachronism.