Octagonal dish

Unidentified Master P.M.

Not on view

Some of the earliest surviving polygonal gold and silver objects are Medieval ten- and six-sided beakers from Germany. Saxon immigrants may have brought the form to Hungary and Transylvania in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and hexagonal plates and presentation dishes became the pride of Hungarian and Transylvanian treasuries. Their extravagant shape and ornamentation are unique to this region during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. In most cases, these dishes were displayed as part of an ostentatious buffet, or on cupboards, as a testimony to the wealth, social standing, and taste of their owners.

Traditionally, these dishes were made in sets, with the patron’s arms in the domed center and chased decoration on the rim. This example is different. The engraved KK and 10 on the reverse indicate that it may have been a part of an ensemble of ten or twelve plates. The stylized Medusa head at the center of the dish, and the engraved leaf-sprays surrounding four female masks with cloth, are later—likely nineteenth-century—additions (compare to István Heller. Ungarische und siebenbürgische Goldschmiedearbeiten: Vom Ende des 16. Jahrhunderts bis zum Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts. Munich, 2000, pp. 70–71, no. 4). These added elements may explain the current condition of dish’s silver-gilt: if the coat of arms that originally occupied this space was removed the surface would have had to be repolished and unified with the (possibly original) scrolls and garland on the matte ground.

European Silver. Sale cat., Sotheby’s, Geneva, May 9, 1988, p. 39, no. 134.
Judit H. Kolba. Hungarian Silver: The Nicolas M. Salgo Collection. London, 1996, p. 56, no. 34.

Erdély régi művészeti emlékeinek kiállítása az Iparművészeti múzeumban / Ausstellung alten Kunstgewerbes aus Siebenbürgen. Exh. cat. Museum of Applied Arts. Budapest, 1931, probably pp. 46–47, no. 227.

Elemér Kőszeghy. Magyarországi ötvösjegyek a középkortól 1867-ig / Merkzeichen der Goldschmiede Ungarns vom Mittelalter bis 1867. Budapest, 1936, probably no. 45.

[Wolfram Koeppe 2015]

Octagonal dish, Unidentified Master P.M., Gilded silver, Hungarian, Beszterce

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