Peterhans I and Peterhans II Segesser, Basel, 1603
Silver with gold-plating; enamel; cut garnets
H 38.7 cm, dia. 12.2 cm
Historisches Museum Basel
The merchant Andreas Ryff (1550–1603) of Basel travelled extensively not just on business, but as a diplomat, too. He represented Basel at the Tagsatzung (the legislative and executive council) of the Swiss Confederacy and he was a member of several diplomatic missions. Just how important his services as a mediator were is evident from this costly cup, presented to him shortly before his death as a token of thanks. The cup is decorated with hunting scenes spread over three registers showing fishing, hunting for wildboar and wolves, and a stag hunt at the top, while there are scenes of bird hunting on the lid. The five heraldic beasts of the cities of Bern, Basel, Schaffhausen and Zurich are a reminder of the cities that commissioned the cup. Together with the city of St. Gallen, these four Swiss cities in 1591 lent King Henry IV of France 70,000 crowns, which in those days was a huge sum of money. The interest payments soon began to falter, however, and it was thanks only to the diplomatic skills of Andreas Ryff that the sum was eventually repaid.