Lisbon, João Frederico Ludovice (attrib.), late 17th century – c. 1720
From the Middle Ages, salt was viewed as an essential part of people’s diets and great care and attention was taken to present it in extravagant, luxurious objects at the table. This gilded silver piece is unique in that it combines two containers: a lower, more bulbous part for salt and an upper part with small holes for sprinkling pepper, a greatly prized spice. In the form of a triangular obelisk standing on clawed feet, the shaker is decorated with incised cartouches and acanthus leaves that highlight the edges of the angles. It features the mark I.L, attributed to João Frederico Ludovice, a German master silversmith who was hired to work in Portugal by the Jesuits in the late 17th century and who later became King João V’s architect and artistic advisor, playing a central role in the design of the Royal Convent and Palace of Mafra. Like other pieces in the museum, the shaker was part of the collection belonging to Sir Francis Cook, Viscount of Monserrate, before being acquired by Ricardo do Espírito Santo Silva after the contents of his Sintra palace were dispersed.