Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Ewer and basin - Lomellini Ewer and Basin
  • Lomellini Ewer and Basin
    Tavarone, Lavazzo, born 1556 - died 1641
  • Enlarge image

Lomellini Ewer and Basin

  • Object:

    Ewer and basin

  • Place of origin:

    Genoa (made)

  • Date:

    1621-1622 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Tavarone, Lavazzo, born 1556 - died 1641 (designer)
    Aelbosca Belga, Giovanni (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver, cast, chased and embossed

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with assistance from The Art Fund

  • Museum number:

    M.11&A-1974

  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 6, The Lisa and Bernard Selz Gallery, case CA2 []

This ewer and basin together weigh almost ten kilos and were intended for display, together with similarly grand pieces of tableware, during banquets. The arms held by one of the figures on the ewer are those of the Grimaldi family of Genoa, and the scenes of soldiers, ships and prisoners commemorate the victory of General Giovanni Grimaldi over Venetian forces in 1431. The prominent coats of arms, surmounted by a crown, applied to the shoulder of the ewer and to the centre of the basin belong not to the Grimaldi, however, but to another Genoese family, the Lomellini. It is likely that the ewer and basin were a gift from the Grimaldi family to the Lomellinis during the early seventeenth century. By adding their arms to the Grimaldi ewer and basin, the Lomellini family made the set match two similar ewers and basins they had commissioned to celebrate a marriage at a slightly earlier date. These pieces, decorated with scenes from Classical mythology, also bear the Lomellini arms and are now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and Birmingham City Art Gallery.
The ewer and basin at the V&A is significant not only as a rare survival of domestic silver made in seventeenth-century Genoa, but also because the source of some scenes embossed on the basin and ewer can be traced. Surviving sketches for now-lost frescos in the Palazzo Grimaldi by the prolific Genoese artist Lazzaro Tavarone (c. 1556 - c. 1641) correspond to elements of the narrative embossed and chased on the silver. This ewer and basin, made for Genoese patrons by the Flemish goldsmith Giovanni Aelbosca to designs sketched originally for frescos, embodies the international nature of seventeenth-century patronage and the variety of sources used by goldsmiths for their work.

Physical description

A silver ewer and basin, the ewer cast, raised, embossed and chased, the basin embossed and chased; both decorated with scenes that show the Genoese army and navy victorious over the Venetian Republic.

Place of Origin

Genoa (made)

Date

1621-1622 (made)

Artist/maker

Tavarone, Lavazzo, born 1556 - died 1641 (designer)
Aelbosca Belga, Giovanni (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silver, cast, chased and embossed

Object history note

The basin (marked for 1621) and ewer (marked for 1622) were made by the Flemish goldsmith Giovanni Aelbosca Belga, who is documented working in Genoa between 1617 and 1638. The pieces were originally made for a member of the Grimaldi family, tentatively identified as Onorato II of Monaco (Boggero and Simonetti: 2004, p. 117). The scenes embossed on both pieces commemorate a 1431 victory over the Venetians by Giovanni Grimaldi, a direct ancestor of Onorato, and the Grimaldi coat of arms surmounted by the imperial eagle appears on the body of the ewer. The Venetian flag with the winged lion of St Mark is visible in the sea battle on the sides of the ewer. At a slightly later date, the arms of the Lomellini family were applied to the shoulder of the ewer and centre of the basin, and the objects passed into the possession of the Lomellini family. This was probably the result of a marriage between the two families, and the new owner may have been Giacomo Lomellini di Nicolò (Boggero and Simonetti: 2004, pp. 117 and 127). The Doge's crown which surmounts the Lomellini arms was probably added after 1625, when Giacomo was elected Doge of Genoa. Nevertheless, none of the silver listed in the summary 1652 inventory of Giacomo's possessions corresponds to this ewer and basin.

Around 1807, the ewer and basin were bought in Naples by the fifth Earl of Shaftesbury. The purchase is mentioned by the poet Samuel Rodgers in a letter to the Countess of Dunmore, Lady Fincastle, dated 8th November 1807: “The Shaftesburys are making magnificent preparations. The plate Lord S. bought at Naples for £300 is the hansomest I ever saw – three vast dishes and three ewers richly sculptured like the Shield of Achilles with battles, processions &c. I saw it at Rundalls yesterday”. (Maxwell: 1898, p. 11). The other two pairs of ewers and basins mentioned by Rogers are now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and the Birmingham City Art Gallery. They bear the Lomellini arms, applied in the same position as on the London set, and are unmarked, though the Oxford basin is engraved with the date '1619'. Both sets are embossed with tales from Classical mythology and figures such as Neptune and Venus, and were probably commissioned to celebrate Giacomo's marriage to Barbara Spinola in around 1620 (Boggero and Simonetti: 2004, p. 117).

Shaftesbury had a square silver base added to the foot of all three ewers, and engraved the underside of the pieces with his own arms (Ashley-Cooper) impaling Webb, for Barbara, daughter and heiress of Sir John Webb, 5th Baronet and his wife, Mary, eldest daughter of Thomas Salvin and one of the co-heiresses of the Barony of de Mauley. Their marriage took place in 1786 and the pieces descended through their only daughter to the last owner, the 5th Lord de Mauley. In 1973 all three sets were sold at auction at Christie's, London.

Descriptive line

Basin, silver, Italy (Genoa), 1621, mark of Giovanni Aelbosca, Belga. Lomellini coat of arms applied to centre.

Ewer, silver, Italy (Genoa), 1622, mark of Giovanni Aelbosca, Belga. Lomellini coat of arms applied to shoulder; Grimaldi arms embossed on the body.

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

Macandrew, Hugh. Genoese silver on loan to the Ashhmolean Museum. The Burlington Magazine. September 1972, vol. CXIV, no. 834. pp. 611-20.
Newcome, Mary. Drawings for Genoese Silver. Antichita Vivà. 1992, vol. 31, no. 1. pp. 29-36
Hayward, J. F. Virtuoso Goldsmiths and the Triumph of Mannerism 1540-1620. London: Rizzoli International / Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1976. ISBN 0856670057
Boggero, Franco and Farida Simonetti. Argenti Genovesi da Parata tra Cinque e Seicento. Turin: Umberto Allemandi, 1991.
Kunst in der Republik Genua 1528-1815. Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Sept. 5-Nov. 8, 1992. Frankfurt am Main: Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, 1992.
Boccardo, Piero, ed. L'Età di Rubens: dimore, committenti e collezionisti genovesi. Catalogue of an exhibition held in Genoa at the Palazzo Ducale, and simultaneously at two other locations in Genoa: the Galleria di Palazzo Rosso, and the Galleria Nazionale di Palazzo Spinola, Mar. 20-July 11, 2004. Milan: Skira, 2004. ISBN 888491745X.
Boggero, Franco and Farida Simonetti. Grandi argenti per le dimore genovesi: le committenze Pallavicino e Lomellini. In: Piero Boccardo, ed. L'Età di Rubens: dimore, committenti e collezionisti genovesi. Catalogue of an exhibition held in Genoa at the Palazzo Ducale, and simultaneously at two other locations in Genoa: the Galleria di Palazzo Rosso, and the Galleria Nazionale di Palazzo Spinola, Mar. 20-July 11, 2004. Milan: Skira, 2004. ISBN 888491745X, pp. 113-120.
Verdi, Richard. Saved! 100 years of the National Art Collections Fund. Catalogue of the exhibition held at the Hayward Gallery, 23 Oct. 2003 - 18 Jan., 2004. London: Scala, 2003. ISBN: 1857593049.
Highly Important Continental Silver. Auction catalogue, Christie's London. 28 November 1973, lot 164.
Maxwell, Herbert. The Honourable Sir Charles Murray KCB: A memoir. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood & Sons, 1898.
Medlam, Sarah and Lesley Ellis Miller, eds. Princely Treasures: European Masterpieces 1600-1800 from the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Publishing, 2011. ISBN 9781851776337
Schroder, Timothy. British and continental gold and silver in the Ashmolean Museum. 3 vols. Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2009. ISBN 9781854442208

Labels and date

Ewer and basin, silver, Genoa, 1621-22
Maker's mark, GA over B, possibly for the Flemish goldsmith, Giovanni Aelbosca belga, possibly after designs by Lazzaro Tavarone
The ewer bears the arms of the Grimaldi family and, on the foot, the arms of the Lomellini family of Genoa. Both pieces are decorated with scenes probably commemorating the victory by Giovanni Grimaldi, Prince of Monaco, over the Venetians at the battle of the Po in 1431.
Purchased with assistance from the National Art Collections Fund
M.11&A-1974 []

Materials

Silver

Categories

Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.