Skip to main content
  • Want more images or videos?
    Request additional images or videos from the seller
1 of 6

Unknown
Spanish Colonial Silver Baptismal Dish

$35,000

About

Provenance: Acquired at auction in Argentina in the 1970’s by: Private Collection, USA (until 2018) Literature: Temples of Gold, Crowns of Silver: Reflections of Majesty in the Viceregal Americas, ed. Bélgica Rodríguez, Lenore D. Miller, and Barbara von Barghahn, Washington DC, 1991, p. 56, illus. Exhibited: “Temples of Gold, Crowns of Silver,” The Art Museum of the Americas, the Organization of American States, Washington DC, May 2-June 29, 1991; George Washington University Dimock Gallery, Washington DC, June 6-September 12, 1991. This impressive baptismal dish is a remarkable example of eighteenth-century silverwork from the viceregal Peru. From its roots as a synthesis of Spanish tastes and practices with those of indigenous peoples, the art of silversmithing in the Americas developed into a rich tradition that responded to the unique desires and needs of colonial society. Already in the mid-sixteenth century, there was great demand for silver objects both in Spain and in Latin America, due in no small part to the large amounts of base silver being mined and refined there. This demand remained constant through the eighteenth century, the last flowering of the colonial silversmithing tradition, which melted away with the political changes and the independence movements of the early nineteenth century. This baptismal dish dates from this final period of viceregal silverwork, and its form and style correspond with similar works produced at this time in Peru. The most striking feature of this baptismal font is its imitation of a scallop shell. The scallop shell was a common symbol in the Christian tradition from the medieval period on, probably originating with the shells worn by pilgrims on their return from shrine of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. These shells also came to be associated with the notion of rebirth by water, and thus, the sacrament of baptism. The scallop shell was a recurring motif in Peruvian silverwork of the eighteenth century, and several types of objects were modeled on its shape, including holy-water fonts, basins, shells for pouring water during baptism, and baptismal dishes like this one. This silver shell is adorned with 26 concave gadroons, or grooves, and its curved base is decorated with foliage, scrolls, and flowers. The undulating/scalloped rim of the basin contains a raised, C-shaped decoration that is repeated inside the shell along the base of the gadroons. The underside of the shell reveals signs of the techniques used in its creation, as well as one of the most fantastic aspects of the work: the three spiraled conch shells that serve as the feet of the dish. The dish’s elaborate backsplash features feathers emerging from cornucopia on the outer edges, and in the center, the Lesser Royal Coat of Arms of Spain/the Spanish Monarch, in use from 1700 to as late as 1868, although here with the lions and towers reversed. This crest includes a representation of the Pillars of Hercules with the words “Plus ultra” inscribed on banderoles. This motto was adopted by Charles V (1500-1588), Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, and later incorporated into the arms of Spain. It is an adaptation of the phrase “Non terrae plus ultra” (“No land further beyond”), which was thought to have been written on the Pillars of Hercules at the Strait of Gibraltar as a warning to all who would venture beyond what was then the known world. “Plus ultra,” meaning, “Further beyond,” is a clear reference to Spain’s discovery of the New World. The presence of this coat of arms suggests that this work may have been commissioned by or intended for a Spanish official or visiting dignitary. Silver was the material of choice for both ecclesiastical and domestic vessels in the New World, not only for its status as a precious metal, but also because of its abundance and durability. Baptismal dishes in the shape of scallops were common in Peru, a clear indication of their popularity and desirability. They were intended for ecclesiastical use as baptismal fonts, as well as for domestic use as decorative pieces placed on top of furniture. In the latter case, these dishes fall into the category of religio-domestic works—objects intended for the home that refer to religious activity. The scale and the secular coat of arms on this dish indicates that it was likely originally destined for a domestic setting. This work may be compared with a similar, scallop-shaped dish, which also displays Spanish heraldic imagery on the backsplash with the inclusion of the imperial double-eagle surmounted by a crown. This dish has traditionally been considered a work of the Cuzco school based on stylistic similarities. It does not have any marks on it, which would give a more precise indication of its date and place of origin. However, in addition to its style, the popularity of this kind of object in Peru gives a clear indication of its origin, and the presence of the Spanish royal crest helps us to place it firmly in the eighteenth century.

Details

  • Dimensions
    Height: 9.5 in. (24.13 cm)Width: 17.5 in. (44.45 cm)
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
  • Period
  • Condition
  • Gallery Location
    New York, NY
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU1024578331

Shipping & Returns

  • Shipping
    $110 Standard Parcel Shipping
    to anywhere in the world, arrives in 3-5 weeks.
    We recommend this shipping type based on item size, type and fragility.
    Ships From: New York, NY
  • Return Policy

    This item cannot be returned.

1stDibs Buyer Protection Guaranteed
If your item arrives not as described, we’ll work with you and the seller to make it right. Learn more
About the Seller
5 / 5
Located in New York, NY
Recognized Seller
These prestigious sellers are industry leaders and represent the highest echelon for item quality and design.
Established in 1997
1stDibs seller since 2012
12 sales on 1stDibs
Typical response time: 3 hours
More From This Seller

You May Also Like

Attributed to Cornelius de Neve, Portrait of John, Lord Belasyse
Located in London, GB
Attributed to Cornelius de Neve (circa 1612-1678) Portrait of John, Lord Belasyse (1614-1689) Oil on canvas; held in a period style carved polished wood frame. Dimensions refer to...
Category

Mid-17th Century Old Masters Portrait Paintings

Materials

Oil

Follower of Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer – Still Life Oil on Canvas
Located in London, GB
Follower of Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer (12 January 1636 – 20 February 1699) Still Life Oil on Canvas in Later Giltwood Frame Dimensions refer to size of frame. Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer ...
Category

Early 18th Century Old Masters Still-life Paintings

Materials

Canvas, Oil

Early 19th Century Pastel Depicting The Goddess Hebe
Located in London, GB
A fine early nineteenth century Regency Period pastel, depicting the goddess Hebe. Pastel upon paper, housed within a period circular mounted rectangular frame. In Greek mythology,...
Category

Early 19th Century Old Masters More Art

Materials

Pastel

Portrait of Giuseppe Garibaldi - Original Glass Art - 19th Century
Located in Roma, IT
Portrait of Garibaldi is an admirable piece of art painted on small glass, realized by anonymous artists of the 19th Century. Good condition. The tiny and small piece of glass art,...
Category

19th Century Old Masters More Art

Materials

Glass

Brutalist Figural Sculpture of a Man
Located in Milford, NH
A fine modern mid century brutalist sculpture of a man with arms extended forward, in silver plated heavy metal, probably lead or bronze, unsigned, and mounted on a dimensional museu...
Category

Mid-20th Century Modern Figurative Sculptures

Materials

Metal, Silver

"Candlesticks, silver-plated bronze," Two Candlesticks
Located in Milwaukee, WI
This pair of silver-plated candlesticks were created by an unknown artist in 2000.
Category

Early 2000s Other Art Style More Art

Materials

Silver, Bronze

Ancient Greek Silver Turtle Stater Coin from Aegina
Located in London, GB
The obverse of this unusually complete and deeply toned high-relief coin shows a leatherback turtle. The reverse with an incuse square divided into five compartments. It was not the...
Category

15th Century and Earlier More Art

Materials

Silver

Charles Jervas, Portrait of Joseph Mellish
By Charles Jervas
Located in London, GB
Charles Jervas (1675-1739) Portrait of Joseph Mellish (1675-1733) Oil on canvas; held in a carved period frame Dimensions refer to size of frame. Provenance: Blyth Hall, Nottingh...
Category

Early 18th Century Old Masters Portrait Paintings

Materials

Oil

The 1stDibs Promise

Learn More

Expertly Vetted Sellers

Confidence at Checkout

Price-Match Guarantee

Exceptional Support

Buyer Protection

Insured Global Delivery