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Communion alms dish
  • Communion alms dish
    Portal, Abraham, born 1726 - died 1809
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Communion alms dish

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1763-1764 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Portal, Abraham, born 1726 - died 1809 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver, raised and engraved

  • Museum number:

    M.16C-1986

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries, case 2C

The alms dish is part of a communion set presented by the banker and philanthropist Sir Thomas Hankey to the Asylum for Female Orphans at Vauxhall, London. Its beautifully engraved cartouches are decorated with children holding a communion cup and paten.

The asylum had been established in 1758 by Sir John Fielding with the aim of preventing prostitution. The girls were taught to read the Bible and later apprenticed or engaged as domestic servants.

Physical description

Of standard plate form, the alms dish has a convex centre and a double line chased round the rim. The rim is engraved with scrolls and flower sprays and 'To the Chapel of the Asylum 1764'.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

1763-1764 (made)

Artist/maker

Portal, Abraham, born 1726 - died 1809 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silver, raised and engraved

Marks and inscriptions

Mark of Abraham Portal. (Compare to the ewer and basin bearing the same mark, 1768-9, Catalogue of the Jewish Museum, London, 1794, pl.LXXI)

Engraved with flowers and scrolls and the inscription: "To the Chapel of the Asylum 1764".

London hallmarks for 1763-4

Dimensions

Diameter: 23.5 cm

Object history note

Presented to the Asylum for Female Orphans by Sir Thomas Hankey, banker and philanthropist

Historical significance: The Asylum for Female Orphans was established by Sir John Fielding in 1758 at Vauxhall. The girls were taught to read the Bible and later apprenticed or engaged as domestic servants. The chapel plate was commissioned by a banker, Sir Thomas Hankey.

Historical context note

Gifts to Charity
Public benefactions were seen as evidence of the donor's faith. In 18th-century London, leading citizens founded institutions to assist the poor, sick and isolated. Prevention was better than a cure, and in 1758 the Asylum for Female Orphans was founded to prevent prostitution. In the same year the Magdalen Hospital was established to reform repentant prostitutes.

Hospital governors recognised the importance of religion in educating and nurturing those for whom they cared. Regular communion was considered part of the healing process. In poorhouses parish officers saw that communion was celebrated and prayer books distributed.

Descriptive line

Silver, London hallmarks for 1763-4, mark of Abraham Portal

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Burlington Magazine, May 1989, pp.385-92, fig. XI

Labels and date

Asylum Chapel Plate

The alms dish is part of a communion set presented by the banker and philanthropist Sir Thomas Hankey to the Asylum for Female Orphans at Vauxhall, London. Its beautifully engraved cartouches are decorated with children holding a communion cup and paten.

The asylum had been established in 1758 by Sir John Fielding with the aim of preventing prostitution. The girls were taught to read the Bible and later apprenticed or engaged as domestic servants.

London, England, 1763–4; by Abraham Portal
(1726–1809). Silver
Museum nos. M.16 to C-1986 [22/11/2005]

Materials

Silver

Techniques

Engraving (incising)

Subjects depicted

Scrolls; Flowers

Categories

Metalwork; Christianity; Religion

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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