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  • Date:

    early 19th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver, pierced

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and The Art Fund

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Oval, silver mazarine pierced with dolphin motifs and handles in the form of shells; the pierced plate rests in deeper serving dish to hold fish out of cooking liquid.


early 19th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silver, pierced

Object history note

This silver service was intended to glorify the Triple Alliance between Britain, Spain and Portugal and to celebrate their joint Victories against the French between 1808 and 1814. To the Portuguese, the Peninsular War was a war of Independence and this was their great gift to the man who had ensured its survival, the first Duke of Wellington.

The service was designed and executed under the control of Domingos Antonio de Sequeira (1768 - 1837), court painter to Dona Maria I. As far as is known, Sequeira had never designed anything in silver before receiving the commission for the service and designed only two pieces of silver subsequently. Sequeira remained loyal to his constitutional principles and after Dom Jaoa VI abandoned the Constitution in 1823 he left Portugal and eventually settled in Rome where he died. His work is at its most creative and original during the Peninsular War.

Although plans for the production of the service were well advanced by March 1811 the actual date when the decision was taken to present the service is unknown. The earliest evidence for Sequeira's involvement is a drawing dated 29th April 1812. By 1813 production was in full swing, partly in Sequeira's own house and partly in neighbouring workshops which had been specially rented. The bullion was supplied by the mint which obtained it by melting down coins. Progress on the project can be documented in detail by through the State Archives and Sequeira's designs. The artist kept running into practical problems such as the call up for military service of his craftsmen. In September, 1816 the service was finally shipped to Britain. The total cost of the service was about £27,000. Interestingly, the Duke acquired additional items from Garrard so that the service met British dining practices.

[From justification for acquisition by Timothy Stevens, 31/03/1995]

Descriptive line

Silver mazarine, 'Portuguese Service', unknown maker (not part of original shipment from Portugal), probably early 19th century.

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

Delaforce, Angela and James Yorke. Portugal's silver service : a victory gift to the Duke of Wellington London : Victoria and Albert Museum, 1992. 143 p., ill. ISBN 1851771034

Production Note

Unmarked, and not part of the original shipment from Portugal.

Subjects depicted

Dolphin (animal); Shell (motif)


Metalwork; Tableware & cutlery


Metalwork Collection

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