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  • Place of origin:

    Germany (made)

  • Date:

    late 16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brass, hammered in relief and stamped

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

By the early 16th century, brass dishes became greater in diameter, the depressions shallower and the flanges of the rims correspondingly wider. 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 of either interlaced scroll like waves or lettering. This was not necessarily embossed with punches in the traditional manner but was often cast in the mould at an earlier stage in manufacturer. The inscriptions themselves were usually meaningless and merely incorporated into the overall design for their decorative value.

The iconographical subject of this dish depicts the myth of St Christopher. He is almost always artistically represented in the same scene: carrying the infant Christ on his shoulders across a river.

The production of brass bowls was centred in Nuremberg, but 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 that today it is difficult to assign a place of manufacture within Northern Europe to any dish produced during the 16th and 17th centuries. The dispersal of refugee craftsmen, after the downfall of Dinant in 1466 is one reason for this, as is the fact that dishes exported form their area of manufacture provided prototypes for others to follow.

Those exported to England 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 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.

Physical description

Around the central motif of St Christopher are two bands of inscription; the inner with 'GEAWART:DER.I:NFRID' repeated four times; the outer with the same words misspelt and with reversed letters.

Place of Origin

Germany (made)


late 16th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Brass, hammered in relief and stamped

Marks and inscriptions



Diameter: 16.5 in, Height: 1.75 in

Descriptive line

Brass dish depicting St Christopher, Germany, early 16th century




Hammered; Stamped


Food vessels & Tableware; Metalwork


Metalwork Collection

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