Lomellini Ewer and Basin

Lomellini Ewer and Basin

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This silver ewer
Pitcher (container)
A pitcher is a container with a spout used for storing and pouring contents which are liquid in form. Generally a pitcher also has a handle, which makes pouring easier.A ewer is a vase-shaped pitcher, often decorated, with a base and a flaring spout...

 and basin was originally part of a set of six. They were made in 1621 to 1622 and are decorated with episodes from the life of Giovanni Grimaldi
House of Grimaldi
The House of Grimaldi is associated with the history of the Republic of Genoa and of the Principality of Monaco.-History:The Grimaldi family descends from Grimaldo, a Genoese statesman at the time of the early Crusades. He might have been a son of Otto Canella, a consul of the Republic of Genoa in...

, who was a member of one of the most important aristocratic families in 17th century Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

. The ewer depicts an event in the Wars in Lombardy
Wars in Lombardy
The wars in Lombardy were a series of conflicts fought in central-northern Italy between the Republic of Venice and the Duchy of Milan, and their different allies. They lasted from 1425 until the signing of the Treaty of Lodi in 1454...

, the battle of the River Po in 1431, at which Giovanni commanded the Milanese fleet against the Venetians. Also prominent on the set are the arms of the Lomellini, another highly influential Genoese family whose wealth was partly founded on trade in coral. There is no documentary evidence
Documentary evidence
Documentary evidence is any evidence introduced at a trial in the form of documents. Although this term is most widely understood to mean writings on paper , the term actually include any media by which information can be preserved...

 for the commission but the two dynasties shared trading interests and were related by marriage. It may be that the pieces were made for the House of Grimaldi
House of Grimaldi
The House of Grimaldi is associated with the history of the Republic of Genoa and of the Principality of Monaco.-History:The Grimaldi family descends from Grimaldo, a Genoese statesman at the time of the early Crusades. He might have been a son of Otto Canella, a consul of the Republic of Genoa in...

 but later passed on the Lomellini, perhaps as a wedding gift or to mark a business transaction. Objects such as these were deliberately designed to be admired rather than used. The sculptural decoration of the set, in particular with writing handle and shell lip of the ewer, reflects the taste for marine and grotesque ornament that was fashionable in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

It has been suggested that the goldsmith
Goldsmith
A goldsmith is a metalworker who specializes in working with gold and other precious metals. Since ancient times the techniques of a goldsmith have evolved very little in order to produce items of jewelry of quality standards. In modern times actual goldsmiths are rare...

 may have used drawings by Lavazzo Tavarone (1556–1641), who worked on the fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

es in the Palazzo Grimaldi. Both pieces bear the mark of Genoa but were probably the work of a Flemish
Flemish people
The Flemings or Flemish are the Dutch-speaking inhabitants of Belgium, where they are mostly found in the northern region of Flanders. They are one of two principal cultural-linguistic groups in Belgium, the other being the French-speaking Walloons...

goldsmith, Giovanni Aelbosca Belga. It was not unusual for Flemish goldsmiths to be working in Genoa at this time as a large colony of Flemish artists also resided there in the early 17th century.