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  • Place of origin:

    Augsburg (marked)

  • Date:

    ca. 1685 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Drentwett, Philipp Jacob III (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cut from sheet silver, raised, partially gilded silver (parcel-gilt) and nielloed silver

  • Credit Line:

    The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.606:1 to 4-2008

  • Gallery location:

    Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 70, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries, case 3, shelf 2 []

Canisters of this type were used for storage. This example has a screw cover to keep its contents airtight. The style and subject matter of this piece is typical of the German Augsburg silversmiths. Famous Roman figures and politicians which decorate the canister are frequently found on embossed plate of the period.

Outside the wealthiest court circles, 17th-century silver was used primarily for eating and drinking. The dining table was the heart of social activity, and novelty items were made for fashionable new drinks flavoured with spices and drinking games. The range of British silver for the home from this period (the first for which a representative quantity survives) demonstrates increasing foreign influences from France, the Netherlands and Portugal. The rising demand for fashionably decorated European silver from the 1660s onwards reflects Britain’s new wealth and political stability.

Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world’s great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.

Physical description

Hexagonal canister, with straight sides with large rectangular niello panels reserved within gilded borders and engraved with ovals containing portrait medallions of Roman Republicans surrounded by scrolling foliage and birds. The domed screw-on cover has a niello engraving of a laurel wreath and a hinged handle of hexagonal section.

Place of Origin

Augsburg (marked)


ca. 1685 (made)


Drentwett, Philipp Jacob III (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Cut from sheet silver, raised, partially gilded silver (parcel-gilt) and nielloed silver


Height: 19.9 cm handle lying flat, Weight: 1020 g

Object history note

Provenance: Purchased from S.J. Phillips, Ltd., London, 1985.

Descriptive line

Silver, parcel-gilt and niello, Augsburg, ca.1685, mark of Philipp Jacob Drentwett

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

Schroder, Timothy. The Gilbert collection of gold and silver. Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) 1988, cat. no. 151, pp. 557-59. ISBN.0875871445

Labels and date

(Gallery 70, case 3)
2. Canister with Roman figures
About 1685
Canisters with a screw top were often used for storage and were typical products of Augsburg goldsmiths in the 17th century. Busts of statesmen, generals and philosophers served as character models, sometimes based on ancient Roman examples that would have been familiar to elite patrons.
Augsburg, Germany; Philipp Jacob Drentwett III (about 1643–1708)
Partially gilded silver and niello
Depicted: Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 BC), Cato the Younger (95–46 BC), Gaius Marius (86–57 BC), Titus Quinctius Flaminius (about 229–174 BC), Gnaeus Pompeius (106–48 BC) and Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (236–183 BC)
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.606:1 to 4-2008 [16/11/2016]


Silver-gilt; Silver; Niello


Metal-cutting; Raising; Parcel gilding; Niello


Containers; Food vessels & Tableware; Metalwork


Metalwork Collection

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