Central Europe, Holy Roman Empire - Late Renaissance/Early Baroque (region of modern day Germany/Austria), ca. 16th to 17th century CE. A large, rare copper alms plate featuring at its center a double-headed eagle motif, the coat of arms of the Holy Roman Empire. Scrolling and floral motifs encircle it while further abstract decoration is on the narrow, flat rim. It is rare to find one with such a high percentage of copper in its alloy - most are brass or bronze whereas this one gleams with the pink color of near-pure copper. Size: 17.8" W x 1.1" H (45.2 cm x 2.8 cm)
In the early 16th century, alms dishes had become very wide in diameter, with a wide base and ample room for designs. Many were produced in Nuremberg, with others made in Flanders, Bouvignes, and Aachen, but craftsmen in each city shared techniques, making the plates difficult to assign to a single area of manufacture. When Charles the Bold took the city of Divant in Flanders in 1466, metalworkers fled from there to neighboring areas, further spreading this technology and artistic style. These dishes were not just used for alms - or even, depending on location, primarily. Exported to the British Isles, they found their way to churches there as alms plates, but on continental Europe, paintings often show them used as basins for washing hands after a meal. Prior to forks being commonly used in the 17th century, this was a necessary part of the table. See a very similar example in the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Provenance: private San Francisco, California, USA collection
All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.
A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all winning bids.
We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
Slight bending to form. Patina has been kept cleaned everywhere except in the lower profile areas. Nice preservation of motifs. Small, deliberate puncture through rim in order to hang it on a wall.