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  • Place of origin:

    Germany (made)

  • Date:

    16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brass, repoussé and chased

  • Museum number:


  • 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. The raised centre of this dish is surrounded by a band of Gothic simulated inscription, the whole set within a punched band of small leaf-shaped ornaments.

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.

Physical description

The raised and gadrooned centre is surrounded by a band of Gothic simulated inscription; the whole within a punched band of small leaf-shaped ornaments. The side is gadrooned; the centre bears a shield of arms in engraved silver.

Place of Origin

Germany (made)


16th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Brass, repoussé and chased

Marks and inscriptions

Inscription; decoration


Diameter: 18 in

Descriptive line

Brass dish, in the centre is a shield of arms surrounded by a Gothic inscription, German, 16th century




Repoussé; Chasing

Subjects depicted

Coats of arms; Leaves




Metalwork Collection

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