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‘Diamond tip’ salver

Porto, second half of the 15th century Foot and border added in the first half of the 18th century Gilded, cast, chiselled, engraved silver Inv. 75 This and another very similar salver are among the oldest examples of Portuguese secular silverwork in the museum collection. Both were made in Porto in the 15th century and feature a ‘diamond tip’ decoration. The technical skill and dynamic decoration, inspired by the diamond cutting techniques used at the time, are testimony to the superb quality of Portuguese silverwork in the late Gothic period. The composition is arranged in two concentric bands: the outer band is wider, while the inner band forms a cupola around a central medallion, where the coat of arms of the Costas, Castros, Barretos e Britos was later engraved. Like the coat of arms, the outer band on the salver and the tall foot were added in the first half of the 18th century in a curious appropriation of this type of piece, which was widely appreciated at the time. This practice was widespread and pieces with similar additions can be found in other collections in Portugal, especially those produced in the 16th century with narrative decoration. The vetust appearance of the pieces encouraged this type of adaptation, which was viewed at the time as mere enhancement. In the piece on display here, the silversmith took great care to ensure uniformity, reproducing the ‘diamond tip’ motif from the salver on the foot.  
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‘Diamond tip’ salver
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