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Basin: M/P.9-1938

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 32 (Rothschild)


Silversmith: Unidentified
Printmaker: Androuet du Cerceau, Jacques, the elder




Silver-gilt, embossed, chased, and engraved. Circular with a narrow rim, curved well and domed boss. Decorated overall with with mythological and natural aquatic figures and animals, and strapwork against a wavy background. The boss is inset with a later circular plaque engraved with the arms of Fuller.


History note: Sir Samuel Montague, first Baron Swaythling; sold Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 6-7 May 1924, Catalogue of the Renowned Collection of Silversmith's Work formed by the Right Hon. Montagu, First Lord Swaythling being a part of The Swaythling Heirlooms, on the second day of sale, p. 38, part of lot 113.

Legal notes

L.D. Cunliffe Bequest, 1937

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 45.5 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Paris ⪼ France

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1938-03) by Cunliffe, Leonard Daneham


16th Century, Mid
1559 - 1560


Label text from the exhibition ‘Feast and Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500–1800’, on display at The Fitzwilliam Museum from 26 November 2019 until 31 August 2020: This large silver basin is a masterpiece of the silversmith’s art using many different techniques. It has been embossed, chased, and engraved with marine imagery taken from two famous engravings by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau the Elder (c.1512– 86). One can imagine well-to-do diners dipping their fingers into the sweet-smelling rosewater, and taking a moment to feel the raised work and to look down at the mythical sea-creatures cavorting in the real and fictively rendered water.

The basin would originally have been silver; the gilding was added at a later date, possibly when the Fuller family replaced the original boss with their armorials.

The coat-of-arms of the Fuller family of Hyde House and Germans, Buckinghamshire was probably added in the early 19th century. Lapits round the edge of the boss suggest the original would have been enamelled. The arms also appear on an English silver-gilt ewer of 1583, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum (M.250-1924), with which the basin was paired when it belonged to Sir Samuel Montagu (1842-1911).

This splendid basin is one of very few extant examples of sixteenth-century Parisian goldsmith's work in the Mannerist style. The marine subjects were derived from two designs for tazze (drinking cups) by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau (c.1510-1585): 'The Triumph of Neptune' and 'The Battle between Marine Centaurs'.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Whole Surface composed of gold
Whole Wurface

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Raising (metal forming process) : Silver, raised, embossed, chased, engraved, and gilded

Inscription or legends present

  • Location: On underside
  • Method of creation: Struck
  • Type: Maker's mark
  • Text: H crowned
  • Location: On underside
  • Method of creation: Struck
  • Type: Warden's mark

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: M/P.9-1938
Primary reference Number: 118296
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 17 July 2023 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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