Elegant Imbibing — Baroque Silver from a Basel Collection

Historisches Museum Basel, Barfüsserkirche
Until January 31, 2023

How can water be turned into wine? How can one conjure pleasant smells on a festive spread? How can you “imbibe elegantly”? This special exhibit at the Historisches Museum Basel presents one of Switzerland’s most important private collections of Baroque silver to the public for the first time. It offers a fascinating insight into the sheer variety of drinking vessels, their manufacture and use, and it reveals that for all the differences, there are also parallels between imbibing today and imbibing 300 years ago.

Sailing ships filled with wine that “sail” across the table, joke cups fitted with windmills and blowpipes, “miracle” wine cups and lidded jugs for up to 2.5 liters of warm beer—they are all vivid and entertaining testimonials to past drinking customs. These artfully designed silver vessels also tell of the functions for which they were made and their role as prestige objects. Also shown is a silversmith’s workbench that helps to explain how these beautifully hand-crafted objects were made. On select Sundays, a goldsmith will be on site to explain and demonstrate the various processes.

The more than 150 silver vessels from the 16th to 18th century—including many unique items—are of an elegance that ennobles the act of imbibing. The exhibition thus sheds light on the many different facets of Baroque silverware and the cultural history of drinking.

The exhibit is accompanied by a catalog that shows this private Basel collection for the first time to the public. The lavishly illustrated work is published by the Christoph Merian Verlag.

The exhibition at the Historisches Museum Basel will be flanked by an extensive program of events and can be experienced with the aid of an eGuide in German, English, and French.

https://www.hmb.ch/en/news/exhibitions/elegant-imbibing/

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