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Dish

  • Place of origin:

    Germany (made)

  • Date:

    early 16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brass, hammered in relief and stamped

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Misses E. C. and A. F. Vernet

  • Museum number:

    M.332-1924

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

By the early 16th century, northern European brass dishes had become greater in diameter, the depressions shallower and the flanges of the rims wider than they had been in the 15th century. Pictorial themes continued to be used in decoration but the wider bases afforded scope for an increasing use of abstract decoration. A central motif might be bounded by one or two concentric bands of decoration - either interlaced scroll-like waves or lettering. This decoration was not necessarily embossed with punches in the traditional manner but was often cast in the mould at an earlier stage in the manufacture. The inscriptions themselves were usually meaningless and were incorporated into the overall design merely for their decorative value. On this example a running stag four times repeated surrrounds a cusp cinquefoil centre with stamped decoration on the rim.

Production of such bowls was centred in Nuremberg but not exclusively. Other centres of brass production were Dinant in Flanders and its immediate neighbourhood, from Bouvignes to Aachen. Techniques and styles were copied with equal facility everywhere so it is difficult to assign a place of manufacture within northern Europe to any dish produced during the 16th and 17th centuries. For example, not only did the export of dishes from the Dinant area provide prototypes for others to follow, but the downfall of the town in 1466 to Charles the Bold of Burgundy saw the dispersal of refugee metalworkers.

Those dishes exported to Britain were sometimes used as alms dishes. Elsewhere their function was primarily secular. European paintings of domestic interiors show that they were frequently used in conjunction with lavabos (basins) or ewers, also in brass, for washing hands after a meal. Before the 17th century, when forks became customary, such equipment was essential to any dining table.

In secular art the stag is the attribute of the huntress, Diana, who changed the hunter Actaeon into a stag. Known for its speed and sharp senses, which make it difficult to capture, the stag is an attribute of hearing, one of the five senses, and of prudence.

Physical description

The dish depicts a running stag four times repeated, surrrounding a cusp cinquefoil centre; stamped decoration on rim. Three iron lugs have been added on the rim.

Place of Origin

Germany (made)

Date

early 16th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Brass, hammered in relief and stamped

Dimensions

Diameter: 18.8 in

Descriptive line

Brass dish with running stag design, German, Early 16th century

Materials

Brass

Techniques

Stamped; Hammering

Subjects depicted

Stag; Cinquefoil

Categories

Food vessels & Tableware; Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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