WB.93     Basin dated 1558, central boss added later, ewer dated 1559 • ewer

The centre of the basin is worked in relief (embossed) with the story of the Judgement of Paris. The border shows the triumph of the sea god Neptune, with sea monsters and mermaids in the waves. The ewer shows the Abduction of Helen, based on a print after a Raphael painting.

Curator's Description

Silver ewer; embossed and chased; oval lip with circle cut out of each side; handle formed of terminal figure of Pan; in relief on body: Rape of Helen after Raphael, signed and dated; mask at front and back; terminal figures and strapwork above and below and on neck; inscribed. Openwork.

This object was collected and bequeathed to the British Museum by Ferdinand Anselm Rothschild.

How big is it?

17.1 cm wide, 35.5 cm high, 14 cm deep, and it weighs 1.8 kg

Detailed Curatorial Notes

Text from Tait 1988:-

Origin: Tentatively attributed to Antwerp; unidentified maker's mark in the form of a monogram; also, hidden initials and date: HR (in monogram) 1559.


(i) Unidentified maker's punch-mark in the form of a monogram, perhaps P or R conjoined with D, though formerly read as PS (R3 5088 - see Hayward 1976, p. 395, pl. 587). This mark is stamped under the foot but in the central area.

(ii) Unidentified monogram HR and, below, the date 1559, formed by a series of tiny individual punches (overlapping dots). This dated monogram occurs in the foreground of the Rape of Helen frieze on the body of the ewer.

Provenance: None is recorded. This lacuna might be filled if the nineteenth-century armorial oval plate (inserted in the central boss of the basin) could be identified with certainty. The arms have been read, as follows: party per pale, three roses in a bend; the mantling, helm and a crest of two feathers, each charged with a single rose.

Commentary: The identification of the punch-mark (once on the ewer and three times on the basin) remains an unsolved problem. No other items of silver have been recorded bearing this mark; consequently the attribution of this ewer and basin to a particular area of Europe must depend on stylistic analysis.

In Hayward 1976 the punch-mark was read as PS and identified with the mark R3 5088 (in Marc Rosenberg, ‘Der Goldschmiede Merkzeichen’. 3rd edn, Frankfurt, vol. IV, 1928, p. 22). Rosenberg does not reproduce the doubtful PS mark itself, nor does the entry contain any reference to the ewer and basin in the Waddesdon Bequest; there is just one single reference to the marked silver mounts on a glass goblet, which are today recognised as bearing three punch-marks: the monogram RJS (for the goldsmith Reinier van Jaersvelt), Antwerp, 1546-7 (date-letter N). There is no doubt that Rosenberg misread the RJS mark as a PS mark. The most recent publication of this mounted glass, which is now preserved in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, dates the silver mounts with caution: “1546-47 (?)” (see ‘Kunst voor de Beeldenstorm’, exhibition catalogue, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1986, p. 312, fig. 189a). However, the identification of the maker's mark as that of the goldsmith Reinier van Jaersvelt is not questioned but emphatically restated. As a result, the very different punch-mark on this ewer and basin cannot be said to have any established association with the Low Countries, let alone Antwerp in particular.

In Read 1902, and again in Dalton 1927, this ewer and basin were attributed to a 'German' workshop, despite the acknowledged source of the design being 'inspired by Enea Vico or Androuet du Cerceau'. In the light of our present knowledge of extant German Renaissance silver, this former attribution is difficult to sustain and, indeed, much of the stylistic evidence supports the attribution to an Antwerp workshop, first proposed in 1964 (see Hayward 1964, pp. 251 ff., where it was also proposed that the HB monogram was the signature of the master who decorated them and that the dates 1558 and 1559 were the years when he completed the work). There is, as yet, very little evidence to support the theory that it was the practice in Antwerp for those goldsmiths who put out the more important commissions to a specialist in embossing and chasing to allow the latter to sign (and also date) his work. Whilst it is very plausible to suggest that there were gifted independent specialists who were not part of the goldsmith's workshop team, and who would be employed from time to time on special commissions, it seems that in Antwerp, as in many other centres in northern Europe, the objects were the responsibility of the goldsmith and, as a freeman of the Guild, his mark would be put on the object as it was assayed and marked with the city punch and date-letter. Consequently, in Antwerp it would have been exceptional for the specialist decorator to sign and date his contribution, and as yet no other piece with the monogram HR has come to light, nor is it possible to suggest any identification of this monogrammist at the present time. In a private communication M. Piet Baudouin, formerly Keeper of the Provincial Museums of Antwerp, has cited another similar occurrence on a table-salt, which bears the incised monogram HB or IVB as well as the punch-marks of Antwerp, 1580-1, and of the goldsmith Geeraert de Rasier; however, the beautifully embossed and chased landscape scene on this cylindrical table-salt does not have the monogram hidden within its foreground detail - it is incised in the sky in a most prominent fashion and may, therefore, be an owner's monogram.

The danger of signatures and dates added in recent times to items of high quality to enhance their interest (and value) is well known and, if skilfully executed, they are difficult to detect. Both on the ewer and the basin the monogram HR is produced by the craftsman's technique of punching the surface with a series of slightly overlapping round dots; in executing the straight lines of the monogram he had few problems, but when adding the date 1559 to the ewer by this technique he clearly experienced difficulties and made mistakes. Not only are the two 5s more like two ss, but he has added two small round punches above the middle curve which do not overlap as intended. Similarly, there is a faint line of dots in the inner upper part of the 9 which seem to be the result of a miscalculation. A similar problem with the date 1558 (in the centre of the Judgement of Paris scene on the basin) led to the dots being less overlapping, except in the first numeral which is a straight line, but the two 5s presented the craftsman with the same difficulties as on the ewer. The 8 could only be executed with meticulous care, and the result is an unspontaneous, almost childlike attempt at the form of this numeral. Significantly, the same punch appears to have been used to tool the top surface of the square, rock-like slab with parallel rows of punched dots.

However, in the second appearance of the date 1558 (on the border of the basin) the problems have been solved by dispensing with the dot punch. The date is deeply and crudely incised and, curiously, the 8 consists of four small curves, none of which join up. Why should the craftsman have suddenly changed his technique, especially as the date is adjacent to the monogram HR, which is executed with a punch? There is no immediate explanation available but, when compared with other signed works of this period, neither the monograms nor the dates seem to be comparable - nor, indeed, in keeping with the skilful embossing and chasing of the elaborate surface decoration of both the ewer and the basin. Although few signed and dated examples of decorative Flemish or Netherlandish silver survive from the middle decades of the sixteenth century, one small masterpiece of 1559 - a tour de force of engraving signed by Lambert Zutman, called Suavius (c. 1510 - c. 1574/6) - has survived (see Hugh Tait, The roundel of the Peace of Cateau-Cambresis in ‘The Art of the Jeweller: a catalogue of the Hull Grundy Gift to the British Museum’, London, 1984, I, pp. 73-4, no. 392; II, p. 101, figs 17a-c, 392). This subtly engraved silver roundel was probably made at the Brussels court of the Regent of the Netherlands, where this gifted artist from Liège first won royal patronage in 1552; but he was also popular in Antwerp, where between 1544 and 1562 he produced many of his best works. In this 1559 silver roundel Suavius has integrated the date- and even the much smaller lettering of his signature - with the style of the Latin inscription and the Renaissance figural composition so that there is none of the disharmony that exists on the ewer and basin between the friezes and the dated initials HR. Caution is necessary, therefore, before deciding upon the authenticity of these dated monograms. In the absence of any external corroborative evidence that might help to confirm the existence of either this monogrammist or of the general practice of signing such special commissions among the goldsmiths of Antwerp in the middle of the sixteenth century, it would be unwise to accept these dated monograms as above suspicion or, indeed, to dismiss the likelihood that they were introduced in the nineteenth century.

The ewer and basin must, therefore, be assessed purely on their own technical and stylistic merits, there being at present no other reliable evidence about their date or place of origin. It has long been recognised that the scene of the Rape of Helen on the ewer was after Raphael (Read 1902, p. 44) and, indeed, the left-hand half of the embossed scene is largely copied from the well-known engraving by Marco Dente (Bartsch XIV, p. 171, no. 210), which was popular throughout the second quarter of the sixteenth century, both in Italy and north of the Alps, with craftsmen working in many different fields of the decorative arts. The six figures in that part of the scene, like the boat itself, follow the Marco Dente engraving almost line for line. However, the right-hand half of the scene is either derived from another source or is purely the creation of the goldsmith's imagination. There are some disturbing features. Firstly, the tall standing soldier is depicted wearing a helmet and, strapped on his left arm, he carries a large oval shield but is otherwise naked - the nude soldier on horseback in the centre of the group is similarly accoutred, but, in addition, he has been given a cloak around his neck which billows out behind him. Secondly, the decoration of two shields and of the boat is executed in a pointillé technique and comprises a feeble meandering, scrolling pattern of indeterminate character. Thirdly, the type of helmet worn by the standing nude soldier is the same as the one on the ground close to his left foot (in the foreground); neither seems to derive from an Italian Renaissance engraved source.

The Judgement of Paris (in the central area of the oval basin) was a subject that became increasingly popular with patrons in Italy and northern Europe as engravings such as Marcantonio Raimondi's ‘Judgement of Paris’ after Raphael (Bartsch XIV, 245) were widely circulated. It was a figure scene that could easily be adapted and modified to fit the varying fields available for ornamentation. The goldsmith who made this salver has certainly not copied slavishly from the Marcantonio Raimondi print, though the figure of Paris is remarkably close, except that he is not depicted bare-headed in the engraving. Whereas Raphael's composition consists of a tightly knit group of standing figures, almost forming a circle, the goldsmith has created a frieze, spacing the figures out and seating them almost equidistantly around the oval. In the engraving a prominent, draped and winged Victory floats above the scene holding a laurel wreath over the head of Venus and a palm branch in her left hand; the goldsmith has reinterpreted this emblematical figure as a meaningless, reclining, heavily draped figure of indeterminate character. The arrival of Jupiter on the eagle accompanied by goddesses is more dignified and majestic in the engraving, where the lower half of Jupiter is fully draped; and furthermore, the River God, who is correctly a nude reclining figure in the engraving, has been transformed by the goldsmith into a semi-draped figure, though he has still retained some elements of the Raphaelesque gesture of the River God grasping bulrushes or reeds in one hand. However, the River God's two companions in the Marcantonio print have been reduced to a single one (on the left), who is curiously depicted reclining with his left elbow resting in the mouth of a large vase, and a deer and a wolf (?) have been introduced by the goldsmith to fill up the space (on the right of the River God). It has been suggested (Hayward 1976, p. 395) that this Judgement of Paris scene (in the centre of the basin) is “copied in part, but in reverse, from the same graphic source as that on the Antwerp standing cup illustrated in Colour Plate XXXII”; however the latter - an unmarked and unprovenanced cup (in a 'private collection, London') - incorporates so many major differences that the few similarities that exist between the two versions of the scene may be due to nothing more than the widespread popularity of the Marcantonio Raimondi engraved source.

The Triumph of Neptune (in the outer border of the basin) was also a popular subject with artists and craftsmen in France and the Low Countries following the production of an engraved design by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau (1515?-85), perhaps the most influential architect, designer and author in Renaissance France (see F. Courboin, ‘Histoire illustrée de la Gravure en France, Part I, Des Origines à 1660’, Paris 1923, pl. 275). He is thought to have been born in Paris, in the second decade of the sixteenth century, and between 1531 and 1533 to have been in Rome. His sets of designs, both etched and engraved, often derive from Italian sources or from the Italian artists working at Fontainebleau, whose contributions to Mannerist art were so individual and dynamic. Among the mid-sixteenth-century engravings that he produced as designs for tazza bowls (see H. de Geymuller, ‘Les du Cerceau’, Paris, 1887, p. 321) is a Triumph of Neptune, which depicts a watery procession with Neptune and Venus seated side by side on the back of a dolphin, while behind them are the two winged sea-nymphs holding the laurel wreath above their heads; Cupid, however, is depicted ahead of the pair, winging his way over the waves as he prepares to shoot an arrow from his bow; in front of Cupid, sea-centaurs and winged mermen blow long horns to announce the arrival of the procession (for an illustration of the Victoria and Albert Museum's example, see Hayward 1976, pl. 104). Although there are a number of basic similarities, the goldsmith has proceeded to introduce not only an entire world of repulsive imaginary beasts and watery creatures that do not exist anywhere in the du Cerceau engraving, but also a number of specific changes. In place of the putto in the sky who is showering flower petals on the Neptune and Venus group, the goldsmith has introduced a figure with a thunderbolt and, in addition, one of the seahorses has become an archer - perhaps in place of Cupid. Whereas du Cerceau's design balances the Neptune and Venus group with a comparable figure group of Neptune and Diana on seahorses, the goldsmith's corresponding figure group is scarcely recognisable, for it lacks not only the symbol of the crescent moon in Diana's hair but also the regal elegance and artistic quality of du Cerceau's original. The goldsmith has retained du Cerceau's motif of the seahorses holding aloft the burning incense-pots filling the sky with their smoke, but elsewhere he has introduced - with finicky detail - distant landscapes with buildings and church spires. The essential transformation, however, is the introduction of a hideous miscellany of grotesque sea-monsters.

This trend towards exaggerated marine 'grotesques', however, may have its origins in France in the middle decades of the century, when the engravings of René Boyvin and Pierre Milan often seem to contain the seeds of this strange marine vocabulary of ornamental design; for example, the design for a nef, probably after Rosso, is decorated with such sea-creatures along the sides (for an illustration of the print in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, see Hayward 1976, p. 348, pl. 102). More significantly, one of the very few pieces of French Renaissance secular silver to have survived is beautifully decorated with this type of marine mythological decoration, and to some extent the spirit of disharmony and obsession with snakes and toads and similar trivia is already to be found on this circular silver-gilt basin, which bears the punch-marks: Paris, 1559-60 (in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; see ‘Cambridge Plate’, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1975, p. 32, no. EB2; also ‘École de Fontainebleau Exhibition’, Grand Palais, Paris, 1972, no. 657, where it is pointed out that one cannot rule out the possibility that the date-letter punched on the basin might be for 1583). Although the basin's wide middle zone with the Triumph of Neptune follows closely the du Cerceau engraving, the border decoration is strikingly similar to the Waddesdon oval basin both in technique and character, albeit in a more restrained manner. However, even in the middle zone all is no longer peaceful; the goldsmith has changed the spirit of the frieze. The monster emerging from the waves (behind the pair of winged sea-nymphs with laurel wreath) is depicted attacking, with wide-open ferocious jaws, the sea-centaur and nymph group; the centaur raises a large club to strike its head while the nymph tries to rescue a swimmer near the monster. This scene of fear and danger, borrowed from another of du Cerceau's engravings – ‘Combat de Centaures marins’ - has been gratuitously introduced by this unknown Parisian goldsmith who, despite working in the ambiance of du Cerceau himself, felt compelled to change harmony for strife.

The cultural links between Paris and Antwerp were so close at this time that these Fontainebleau Mannerist designs and ideas would have passed without much delay to Antwerp, where they would have been adapted to meet the needs of the local goldsmith and his clientele who had an even greater preference for the horrific - as is testified by the many surviving Netherlandish drawings and engravings of grotesques dating from the second half of the sixteenth century. In fact, this new vocabulary can be found emerging in four drawings dated 1542 (in the Victoria and Albert Museum), which were published and illustrated for the first time in 1965 (see Schéle 1965, pp. 219-20, pl. 68, where it is argued that they are probably by Cornelis Floris but, possibly, by Cornells Bos - both artists working in Antwerp at that date). The four drawings are semicircular in shape (for use on borders), and three of them represent a frieze-like 'triumph' or a procession with triumphal cars. They have marine grotesque creatures of exactly the same character as those decorating the border frieze of the oval silver basin in the Waddesdon Bequest. Indeed, the most similar of the four drawings is the 'triumph' of Neptune with a reclining river god and

goddess; it has several almost identical scaly grotesques emerging from the waves, and in general there is such a remarkable affinity that it is difficult not to attribute the oval silver basin to the workshops of an Antwerp goldsmith who was copying from this or some other very comparable drawings during the middle decades of the sixteenth century. Indeed, another triumphal car drawing dated 1543, containing several similar grotesque marine creatures, is also attributed to Cornelis Bos or Cornelis Floris (see Schéle 1965, pp. 220-2, no. 282, pl. 69); this important drawing is preserved in the Prenten Kabinet, Amsterdam. Perhaps the most conclusive evidence, however, is to be found in the monumental engraved print of ‘The Triumph of Neptune’ signed by Cornelis Bos and dated 1548 - a great frieze of three consecutive sheets (each 14 x33 cm) preserved in the Prenten Kabinet, Amsterdam (see Schéle 1965, p. 132, no. 55, pl. 20). The ferocious evil-looking marine grotesques from the deep are depicted in a dense and continuous flow of interlocking serpentine attacking movements, while eel-like snakes are shown writhing in the jaws of hideous monsters. Many detailed points of comparison can be established, but the goldsmith of the oval basin has opened out the composition so that between the creatures there is space and even a view of a distant landscape. The dependence of Bos in this instance on compositions by Giulio Romano (in part, lost) is now generally accepted (see Schéle 1965, p. 133), and similarly, it must be assumed that the Antwerp goldsmith who decorated this oval basin also had access to prints that are today unrecorded. However, there is now sufficient evidence to show that in Antwerp before the end of the 1540s several designs for these horrific friezes of marine grotesques were being circulated and, to a large degree, they had been almost simultaneously incorporated into the interior reliefs on the Founder's Cup at Emmanuel College, Cambridge (Hayward 1976, pp. 395-6, pls 594-5, where this Antwerp hall-marked covered cup is said to bear an 'uncertain' date-letter; see also ‘Cambridge Plate’ 1975, p. 23, no. sc6, where the date-letter was published as '1541-2'). This sophisticated Antwerp Mannerist covered cup has survived in excellent condition because it was given to the College by Sir Walter Mildmay (died 1589) and it now offers probably the only - and certainly the most reliably documented - comparative evidence. Its interior frieze of marine creatures and nymphs is of superior quality and, indeed, most probably of a slightly earlier date than that on the oval basin.

Further evidence in support of a slightly later date for the oval basin, perhaps in the 1565-85 period, comes from a piece of silver hallmarked in London. A mounted nautilus shell cup of very strong Antwerp Mannerist design and character, but bearing the London marks for 1585-6, it is preserved in the Fitzwilliam Museum - see ‘Cambridge Plate’ 1975, p. 18, no. MTO8, illus.). It is not impossible that it is the work of a Netherlandish goldsmith who had come to settle in London after the 'Spanish Fury' of 1576, when the city of Antwerp was sacked by its Spanish garrison and thousands were slaughtered. There is nothing 'English' about its sculptural style and its use of strange terms, snails and marine monster-like creatures. Indeed, a close examination of the foot reveals not only a great similarity in the type of imaginary sea-creatures but also an identical and highly idiosyncratic method of decorating their scaly bodies with a small circular punch containing a dot. Such an exceptional detail, combined with the many general technical similarities, points to a common workshop practice, if not the same hand. The most plausible explanation lies in the exodus at the time of the troubles of the city of Antwerp in the 1570s. Significantly, there are some very un-English but very similar marine subjects engraved on the Montagu set of six silver-gilt bowls, hallmarked London 1573 (see Charles Oman, ‘English Engraved Silver, 1150-1900’, London, 1978, p. 37, no. 5, figs 38-9, Appendix 1, pp. 144-5). The identity of this engraver, probably the monogrammist ‘P over M’ remains a mystery, but he was obviously a foreigner, working in London between about 1565 and 1575. The Montagu set, acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1946, can be compared with the set of four engraved designs of marine grotesques for tazze and bowls by Adrien Collaert (c. 1560-1618), who appears in the Antwerp Guild lists of 1580 and who was probably the son of Hans Collaert of Antwerp. This set was published in Antwerp, and one print in particular, in the Victoria and Albert Museum (see Hayward 1976, p. 356, pl. 195), contains many of these creatures among the waves - a decorative theme that persisted into the seventeenth century, especially for basins and bowls.

Likewise, the unmarked Mannerist silver-gilt ewer in the Fitzwilliam Museum (acquired in 1938 and accompanied by the Paris basin of 1559-60) can be compared with the Rape of Helen ewer because, although smaller and less spectacular, it has many features in common (see ‘Cambridge Plate’ 1975, p. 32, no. EB4; H. 26.7 cm; it is catalogued there as “French, late 16th century”, and also as having no connection with the 1559-60 basin; however, the ewer could, indeed, be as early as 1560 and might have been made en suite). The mouth of the Fitzwilliam Museum ewer has a lip with two circles cut out of it on either side - as on the Rape of Helen ewer - and its neck is similarly decorated with bearded masks with open jaws and dilated eyes, as well as pendant swags of fruit and strange caryatid female satyrs. The male masks on the body of the Fitzwilliam Museum ewer are also closely related, and the strapwork design on the boss of the 1559-60 Paris basin is quite similar to that used on the Rape of Helen ewer.

None of these comparisons provides adequate evidence to justify reattributing the Waddesdon ewer and basin to a Paris workshop, and, indeed, there is one further comparison with an extant piece that helps to confirm the attribution to Antwerp at a time when French influence was strong. It is the Louvre's renowned ewer, with its huge basin en suite, commemorating the victory of the Emperor Charles V in Tunis in 1535 (Hayward 1976, p. 346, pl. 596). Both pieces were first recorded in 1793: for a full discussion of their history see WB.96. Both bear the marks of Antwerp 1558-9, and the maker's mark, PR in monogram (R3 5093). The latter is extraordinarily similar in some respects - but not in all - to marks punched on the Waddesdon ewer and basin (see A. Darcel, ‘Notice des Emaux et de I'orfèvrerie’, Paris, 1891, pp. 486-8, nos 764-5). Although the neck, in the form of a female bust, and the snake handle of the Louvre's ewer are derived from a totally different source, the oviform body, stem and foot are closely similar, especially in the use of three horizontal divisions, the middle zone being a sculptural frieze in high relief. The mouldings separating the zones are also similar, with an almost identical form of decoration. The Charles V ewer (H. 43.5 cm) is now unique among Antwerp Renaissance secular plate in having opaque enamelled appliqué trophies and ornamental motifs in the upper and lower zones and, therefore, is in that respect atypical. However, the seated faun at the base of the handle does share some of the characteristics of modelling that distinguish the satyr handle on the Rape of Helen ewer - in particular, the very expressive head, turned at an angle, and the lithe, sinuous body. Whilst there is no connection between the two companion basins, the two ewers do seem to be related in several major respects.

The lack of any surviving contemporary silver basins of oval form in the mid-sixteenth century is yet another puzzling feature, though attention may be drawn to the existence of designs. For example, there is a drawing of an oval basin, which has grotesques and terms framing four scenes (including Diana and Actaeon, and the Rape of Europa), done in the manner of Salviati (in the Victoria and Albert Museum; see Hayward 1976, p. 346, pl. 87). Significantly, the oval boss in the centre of this Salviati drawing is decorated with a reclining River God that fills the 'horizontal' oval space admirably. Oval basins of similar size are to be found in considerable numbers in Limoges painted enamels of the Renaissance (c. 1550-70), and so the form had undoubtedly been generally adopted in France as in Italy, where maiolica examples abound; however, the Waddesdon Judgement of Paris basin remains the exception in silver - no doubt because of the widespread destruction of Renaissance plate.

Finally, the ewer and basin seem not to have been made en suite. Although they bear the same punch-mark, the two objects have decorative schemes that are unrelated. Furthermore, the circular foot of the ewer was never intended to stand on the basin, which has an oval boss in the centre. However, by the seventeenth century, the finest basins were often so artistically decorated that the accompanying ewers were not designed to stand on them; there is, for example, the 1613 Diana ewer and oval basin by Paul van Vianen, now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (illustrated in Hayward 1976, p. 399, pls 630-2) and the fully documented 1629 King Midas ewer and oval basin by Daniel Kellerthaler in the Grünes Gewölbe, Dresden (see ‘The Splendor of Dresden, Five Centuries of Art Collecting’, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1978, pp. 156-7, nos 269-70). On the other hand, the Louvre's Charles V ewer and circular basin made by the Antwerp goldsmith 'PR' in 1558 is by far the earliest dated example in which the ewer is also not designed - and was never intended - to stand on the basin. Although many sixteenth-century ewers with basin en suite may have been intended for display on the 'buffet' beside the high table, and therefore the basin would have been placed vertically behind the ewer, nevertheless the goldsmith normally continued to make them to the old design so that the ewer could be stood on the central boss. In this respect - as in many others - the ewer and basin in the Waddesdon Bequest continue to pose a number of puzzling problems, which at present indicate that, most probably, they were not originally designed en suite. Furthermore, there can be no certainty about the date when they were made and the extent of the alterations; indeed, the suggested place of origin - Antwerp - can be no more than a tentative attribution.


  • Charles Hercules Read, ‘The Waddesdon Bequest: Catalogue of the Works of Art bequeathed to the British Museum by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild, M.P., 1898’, London, 1902, nos 93-4
  • O.M. Dalton, ‘The Waddesdon Bequest’, 2nd edn (rev), British Museum, London, 1927, nos 93-4
  • J. F. Hayward, The Mannerist Goldsmiths: 3. Antwerp, parts I-III, ‘The Connoisseur’, London, vol. 156, June/ July/ August 1964, pp. 251 ff., figs 1, 4-5
  • J. F. Hayward, ‘Virtuoso Goldsmiths and the Triumphs of Mannerism 1540-1620’, Sotheby Parke Bernet Publications, London, 1976, pp. 284, 395, pls 587-9
  • Hugh Tait, ‘The Waddesdon Bequest: The Legacy of Baron Ferdinand Rothschild to the British Museum’, London, 1981, p. 68, figs 44-6
  • Hugh Tait, 'Catalogue of the Waddesdon Bequest in the British Museum, II : The Silver Plate', British Museum, London, 1988, no. 9, figs. 60-69
  • Dora Thornton, 'A Rothschild Renaissance: Treasures from the Waddesdon Bequest', British Museum, London, 2015, pp.282-283.
  • References

    1. Read 1902: Read, Charles Hercules, The Waddesdon Bequest. Catalogue of the Works of Art Bequeathed to the British Museum by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild, M.P., 1898, London, BMP, 1902
    2. Dalton 1927: Dalton, Ormonde Maddock, The Waddesdon Bequest : jewels, plate, and other works of art bequeathed by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild., London, BMP, 1927
    3. Tait 1988: Tait, Hugh, Catalogue of the Waddesdon Bequest in the British Museum; II The Silver Plate, London, BMP, 1988

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