Hungarian, Transylvania

Not on view

Allegorical figures of the Four Elements, labeled within ribbons as IGNIS (fire), AQUA (water), AER (air), and TERRA (earth), occupy the oval cartouches. Cycles of the Four Elements, the Four Seasons, the Four Times of the Day, and the Four Ages of Man were important and commonly depicted subjects in Baroque art. Numerous animals, including a mythological unicorn (symbol of purity), an exotic camel, a bear (warning of gluttony), and a wild boar (symbol of endurance and strength), among others, are dispersed throughout the frieze ornament and interlacing floral decoration. The tulip motif is derived from the plants first cultivated in the Balkan region and the Ottoman Empire.

A charger like this one would have been displayed on a festive buffet. It is unclear if it was intended as a stand for a matching ewer, in which case it would have served as part of a lavabo set used for washing hands during meals. The name of its owner, Gyerofi Borbara, and the date it was made, 1694, are inscribed in the center. The numbering on the back indicates that the piece was once in the Andrássy treasury.

European Silver. Sale cat., Sotheby’s, Geneva, May 13, 1986, no. 89.
Judit H. Kolba. Hungarian Silver: The Nicolas M. Salgo Collection. London, 1996, p. 83, no. 61.

A Magyar történeti ötvösmű-kiállítás lajstroma. Exh. cat. Országos Magyar Iparművészeti Múzeum. Budapest, 1884, room IV, case II, no. 112.
Régi ezüstkiállításának leíró lajstroma. Exh. cat. edited by Károly Csányi. Országos Magyar Iparművészeti Múzeum. Museum of Applied Arts. Budapest, 1927, no. 148.
Erdély régi művészeti emlékeinek kiállítása az Iparművészeti múzeumban / Ausstellung alten Kunstgewerbes aus Siebenbürgen. Exh. cat. Museum of Applied Arts. Budapest, 1931, no. 244.

[Wolfram Koeppe 2015]

Charger, Silver, partly gilded, Hungarian, Transylvania

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