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Bowl

  • Place of origin:

    Burgundy (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1550 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver, parcel-gilt, raised, embossed, chased matted and punched.

  • Museum number:

    M.239-1924

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 62, case 12

A banquet proclaimed a host’s wealth. Across Europe, this was partly achieved by displaying valuable glass, ceramics or silver, like this drinking bowl, on a makeshift, stepped structure. In Italy, this was called a ‘credenza’ (meaning ‘trust’,a reference to the practice of testing food for poison), while in France and England it was a ‘buffet’. Sometimes food and functional objects were included on the bottom tier. Once dinner was over, the shelves were dismantled and the valuables locked away.

Physical description

Bowl, silver, parcel-gilt. The plain shallow bowl of rather sharply sloping profile, has a steeply-domed base, with a raised central circle embossed and chased with a shell on a matted ground. The rest of the base is divided into segments by arcs of strap work, alternately large and small, each segment containing a punched circle. The spandrels above the small arcs are gilt, and each contains two punched circles. The entire background is matted and the whole design is enclosed in a beaded edge. The circular slightly sloping foot (separately made) has a moulded rim, and is decorated with a band of egg and dart ornament, so coarsely cast as to be almost illegible. The inside of the bowl appears originally to have been decorated with bands of ornament of which only the faintest traces now remain.

Place of Origin

Burgundy (made)

Date

ca.1550 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Silver, parcel-gilt, raised, embossed, chased matted and punched.

Dimensions

Height: 5.6 cm, Diameter: 18.3 cm, Weight: 0.2 kg

Historical context note

The bowl was stated by the vendor to have come from Saulieu, in Burgundy. The decoration is fully Renaissance, and of a type current in the middle of the 16th century. A date ca.1550 is therefore plausible, accepting that the bowl, though extremely attractive, is of provincial origin. Not improbably it was made at Saulieu, but at some other town of Burgundy, for example Dijon, is also a possible place of origin. The piece was tested in 1968 at Goldsmiths' Hall, when the composition of the silver was found to be in keeping with a 16th century date.

Descriptive line

Bowl, silver, parcel-gilt, France, Burgundian, ca.1550

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

Ronald Lightbown, French Silver, London, HMSO, 1978. pp.42-43. ill. ISBN: 0112902502

Materials

Silver; Gold

Techniques

Raising; Chasing; Amalgam gilding; Embossing; Matting; Punching

Subjects depicted

Egg and dart; Spandrels; Shell; Strapwork; Beading; Moulding

Categories

Eating; Metalwork; Silver

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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