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Spoon

  • Place of origin:

    Netherlands (possibly, made)
    France (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca.1430 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver, silver gilt; enamel; niello

  • Museum number:

    C.2-1935

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 10a, The Françoise and Georges Selz Gallery, case 3

Some richly decorated objects were intended for display rather than use. The painted enamel used on this spoon was technically difficult and therefore much prized. The quality and material of this spoon suggest that it must have been the property of a person of rank and not intended for daily use.The bowl shows an ape riding a stag through a forest, in a playful scene from a lost romance.This scene is closely related to similar scenes on an enamelled cup, 'The Monkey Cup', in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The colours and distinctive technique of the enamel make it very likely that they were made in the duchy of Burgundy in the 15th century.

Physical description

Spoon, silver, silver gilt. Enamelled on the bowl with a monkey riding through a forest, the back of the bowl with scrolling foliage, all painted in a palette of grey, black, white and highlighted in gold. The handle with an animal mask adjoining the bowl, the shaft decorated with bands of niello, and terminating in an oval knop.

Place of Origin

Netherlands (possibly, made)
France (possibly, made)

Date

ca.1430 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Silver, silver gilt; enamel; niello

Dimensions

Height: 24.6 cm, Width: 5.1 cm, Weight: 0.04 kg

Object history note

Charles the Bold Exhibition RF.2006/635

Historical context note

Spoons are among the earliest domestic objects. As opposed to dishes or knives which were shared, spoons were treasured individual possessions. The quality and material of this spoon suggest that it must have been the property of a person of rank and not intended for daily use.
By the mid 15th century the duchy of Burgundy was the major centre for the production of a specific variety of pictorial enamel in a style of grisaille, perhaps extending to Brabant and Flanders subsequently. The work was on small objects of silver or silver-gilt with a dark grounding over which white enamel was partly applied. Highlights were added in liquid gold.

Descriptive line

Spoon enamelled with a scene of a monkey riding through a forest,possibly Netherlands, mid-15th century.

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

Speel, Erika, The Dictionary of Enamelling. History and Techniques. Hants: Ashgate, 1988, p. 108.
Campbell, Marian. [Catalogue entry]. In: Charles Le Téméraire (1433-1477): Faste et Déclin de la cour de Bourgogne. Brussels: Fonds Mercator, 2008. p.290, no.114, ill. Catalogue of the exhibition held Musée Historique de Berne, 25 April - 24 August 2008 and at Bruggemuseum & Groeningemuseum Bruges, 27 March - 21 July 2009.
Williamson, Paul (ed.), The Medieval Treasury, London: V&A Publications, 1998, p. 236

Production Note

Probably Franco-Flemish

Materials

Enamel; Silver; Niello; Gold

Techniques

Enamelling; Gilding

Categories

Access to Images; Images Online

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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