During the Renaissance, the art of cutting and engraving gems known as glyptic reached a new peak with the rise of the princely Kunst- und Wunderkammern (cabinets of arts and marvels). Artistically designed 'wonders of nature' such as this oval lidded bowl made from a large, rare smoky quartz were particularly in keeping with the character of these collections. To be able to work the gemstones, the highest level of craftmanship was required in the technique of cutting and polishing. The Milanese families of Sarachi and Miseroni led the way throughout Europe. The latter worked as court artists for Emperor Rudolf II in Prague. It is possible that this imaginatively formed vessel with the mascaron ornament even came from his famous Kunstkammer and was presented to the Munich court as a gift.