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Circular, the centre chased with the scene of the Rape of Europa, within a border of baskets of fruit and flowers flanked by cornucopiae, grotesque masks and strapwork, the centre surrounded by a frieze depicting a running narrative scene of the sea-god Neptune rescuing the Danaid Amymone from a satyr, the narrative finishing with the scene of Neptune ravishing Amymone while serenaded by putti astride dolphins, with harbours and a rocky landscape beyond, the outer border chased with the reclining figures of the goddesses; Venus with Cupid, Diana with hounds, Juno with a peacock and Minerva with a helmet and shield, each within a shaped cartouche between putti seated on ribbon-tied husk and fruit garlands and with seated dogs, marked on the reverse of the rim
23¾ in. (63 cm.) diam.
138 oz. 10 dwt. (4,308 gr.)
Possibly Marchese Carlo Piuma, Genoa, 1868.
H. Hubert de Saint-Senoch; Sotheby's, Monaco, 6 December 1983, lot 1,139.
V. Brett, The Sotheby's Directory of Silver, London, 1986, p. 347, no. 1,843.
F. Simonetti, 'L'antico nell'iconagraphia delgi argenti da parata in uso in Genova nei secoli XVI e XVII', Storia dell'arte mediovale e moderna, 1986-1987, pp. 41-43.
G. Biavati, Notizie di argentieri genovesi dell'età barocca (alla maniera di Frederico Altizeri), 'Bollettino dei Musei Civici Genovesi', vols. 22-24, 1987, nn. 14 and 21.
The Glory of the Goldsmith, Magnificent Gold and Silver from the
Al Tajir Collection
, 1989, p. 19.
G. Roccatagliata, Argenti genovesi, Genoa, 1990, pp. 45-46.
F. Boggero and F. Simonetti, Lo Spledore degli Argenti di Genova, Turin, 1991, p. 232, no. 131.
Genoa, Sale dell'Accademia Ligustica, Esposizione Artistico Archeologico Industriale, Spring 1868, no. 56, 'Due grandi piatti d'argento cesellati, del sec. XVII, e del diametro di cent 64, rappresentanti l'uno il Ratto di Europa, l'altro una Battaglia di Tritoni; del march. Carlo Piuma'.
London, Christie's, The Glory of the Goldsmith, Magnificent Gold and Silver from the Al Tajir Collection, 1989, no. 9.

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Lot Essay

The present dish displays the finest chasing and repoussé work of the Mannerist period. The Genoese silversmith has taken a conquest of Jupiter, the King of the Gods, as the subject of the central boss. Having disguised himself as a bull and having mixed with her father's herd of cattle, Jupiter abducts the beautiful Phoenician woman Europa. This scene, and that which surrounds it, follows the theme of the 'Struggle of Love'. This is perhaps best told by the main narrative of the dish which surrounds the central boss. The conquest of the sea-god Neptune is depicted in a continuous narrative frieze finely chased in high relief. The sea-god is shown attempting to rescue, and then succeeding in saving, the beautiful Danaid Amymone from the clutches of a satyr. Neptune is initially identified by his crown and trident. In the ensuing melee he loses his crown. In the scene at the base of the dish, he is victorious and is crowned once more. Amymone and he are serenaded by putti playing a lute and a fiddle. The outer border is chased with more static figures enclosed in four shaped cartouches. They depict the goddesses Venus, Diana, Juno and Minerva accompanied by their attributes. The cartouches are joined by ornamental floral swags between with candid vignettes of dogs.

The style of the ornament owes a great deal to the Flemish goldsmiths of the period. The strong trade links between Genoa, the Mediterranean port and the merchants of Flanders led to both trade in goods and taste. Evidence of both these forms of trade can be seen in the small group of surviving Genoese silver from the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The dish has been compared to the pair of almost identical dishes which form part of the Lomellini set of three ewers and dishes. The set is thought to have been commissioned by the Lomellini family of Genoa, who derived much of their wealth from coral fishing and served as doges of the city. The pair of dishes from the set, one of which is in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum, and the other in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, are thought to have been the work of a Flemish silversmith working in Genoa. They are unmarked, unlike the largest dish and ewer, which are in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and are attributed to Giovanni Aelbosca Belga.

The possibility that the pair of Lomellini dishes were the work of a Flemish silversmith working in Genoa was first put forward by Arthur Grimwade when the set was sold at Christie's in 1973. This theory has taken hold and H. MacAndrew, F. Boggero, F. Simonetti, and T. Schroder have all expanded on this theory. Schroder notes in the catalogue entry for the Oxford Lomellini ewer and dish that by the 1640s one hundred and forty-seven Genoese agents, both commercial and financial, had been established in Antwerp. At the same time, there were 20,000 Genoese merchants and bankers based in Castile and Aragon, Flanders being part of the Spanish Hapsburg empire at that time. The artistic influence of Flanders can been seen by the trips to Genoa taken by both Anthony Van Dyck and Peter-Paul Rubens. Flemish goldsmiths such as Arrigo Fiammingo, who worked for the Doria family, Mattias Melijn and Giovanni Aelbosco Belga, all worked in Genoa. Melijn created the Columbus dish in the collection of the Palazzo Spinola and the Rape of the Sabines dish in the Toledo Museum, Spain.
The extraordinary wealth of the city can be seen in the quality of the small number of surviving pieces of display plate created for the leading families of the city. They hint at the great riches that were once displayed in the city's palaces. Schroder, op. cit., p. 1058, quotes from a contemporary diary written by a member of the entourage of Cardinal Aldobrandini, Monsignor Agostino Agucchi.

'In few other places in Italy can such gold and silverware, such jewellery and fabrics, and such rich furnishings be seen here, in addition to the palaces and royal residences, which have no rivals elsewhere; and most striking of all is the enormous abundance of ready cash.'

The sophistication and complexity of the design of the present dish and the related pieces as discussed above point to the use of model books, drawings and printed sources as inspiration for the Flemish and Genoese goldsmiths. This theory is explored by A. M. Claessens-Peré and F. Boggero and F. Simmonetti in Silver for Sir Anthony, Antwerp, 1999, pp. 21-22 and pp. 28-46. The goldsmith Arrigo Fiammingo, known only from archival material which records him working for Giovanni Andrea Doria, produced a silver covered table depicting the Labours of Hercules after designs by the Genoese artist Bernardo Castello. These designs were found in the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe at the Uffizi in Florence. The Anthony and Cleopatra dish, now in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles is after a sketch by Bernardo Strozzi (1581-1644) in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. There are no known drawings which relate to the present dish but the style and virtuosity of the design and the execution of the chasing places it alongside the select number of surviving masterpieces of the Mannerist goldsmiths' art.

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