Silver Spoon, Silver, niello, traces of gilding, Byzantine

Silver Spoon

mid-6th–mid-7th century
Silver, niello, traces of gilding
Overall: 9 15/16 x 1 7/16 x 7/8 in. (25.3 x 3.7 x 2.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, John C. Weber Gift, in honor of Helen C. Evans, 2005
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 301
Probably once part of a set, this handsome spoon exemplifies the exceptional quality of the finest Early Byzantine silver. The spoon's bowl, outlined in an elegant wave pattern worked in niello, contains an inscription in Latin: puritas, or "purity." The tapering stem with traces of gilding displays in niello the name Matteus, possibly a reference to the evangelist Matthew. Small crosses beside the inscriptions and on the disk connecting the bowl and the stem place the work within a Christian context. Also on the disk is the monogram of the as-yet-identified owner. The use of Latin for the inscriptions associates the spoon with Roman imperial tradition, which was transferred to the new Rome, Constantinople, in the fourth century.
Private Collection, England (until 1990); [ Ward & Company Works of Art (American), New York (1990-2005)]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 2004-2005." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 63, no. 2 (Fall 2005). p. 11.