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Updated: 14 April 2015
Dish; silver-gilt; embossed figures of wild men, centaurs and dogs in foliage. The wild men are shown eating grapes, drinking and dancing. The centaurs are shown hunting; one carries a crucifix. Dogs, birds and other animals are shown in the desnse foliage which forms a honeycomb effect on the border. Engraved coat of arms in centre. Portuguese.
- 1550 (circa)
- 1800-1900 (?)
- Made in: Portugal
- Diameter: 30.4 centimetres
- Depth: 5.2 centimetres
- Weight: 910 grammes
This kind of dish is known as a salva, distinguished by its raised centre. This was used for offering a drink of wine to a person of standing and also for display on a buffet. The arms have been tentatively identified as those of De Castro of Portugal. Other objects in MME, such as maiolica pilgrim flask in the Waddesdon Bequest, see Thornton and Wilson 2009 cat. 242, and a seal matrix, bear arms of other members of this family. Given the absence of tinctures and the schematic nature of the engraving, this identification is unlikely to be proven, though Castro arms are argent six hurts.
Compare pieces in VAM in Oman, Hispanic Silver,cat 81-4, one with lions and thistles but not quite wildmen, dating may be earlier for this dish, mid 16th C?
The meaning of wild men as a motif is discussed by J. O. Caetano in the catalogue of the collection of the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (J. O. Caetano, Inventario do Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon, 1995, p. 148-155). He suggests that the wild-men motif was popularised by thePortuguese exploration in the New World at the time.See wild men dish marked for Lisbon and indistinctly for a maker, and dated 1508 on underside in dotted numerals with a owner's initials: Christie's London sale of 29 November 2011 lot 523.Adish with raised centre, same de Castro arms and wild men is in museu de Arte Antiga in Lisbon, cat. 39 in book above where several others are mentioned.
one in private collection in Lisbon, also unmarked, almost identical. Given several variants of this design survive it is possible that this object is a 19th C copy or recreation of a 16th C type. Coarse and heavy work might also corroborate this origin.
Britain, Europe and Prehistory
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Object reference number: MCT14199
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