|19th century, Brazil, probably Bahia|
This extraordinary standing pineapple cup and cover comprises a life-sized and naturalistically rendered pineapple fruit that sits in a nest of leaves and is crowned with a further flourish of leaves. The pineapple is extremely well faceted to emulate the surface of a real pineapple and each facet is engraved to further emulate a pineapple skin. The pineapple is in two hinged halves and opens to reveal a bowl.
The pineapple stands on a solid-cast baluster-form stem which rises from a circular salver with a scalloped edge. The salver is repoussed with typically colonial rococo-inspired leafy patterns and borders against a finely tooled background. It has a raised central boss from which the baluster stem rises. The salver sits on three similarly patterned cast feet. The stem is secured to the salver on the underside by means of a particularly fine floral-form nut.
The precise intended use of this item is unclear. Probably it was designed to as a whimsical sweets holder. It might also have held dried mate leaves or perhaps sugar for use with mate.
There are no maker's or assay marks. The form evokes that of amulets used on balanganda, the curious votive sets of model fruits and other amulet-type models said to have been worn by former slave women, and which are particular to Brazil, and most particularly to the Bahia region (click here to see an example.)
Together with a similar item, the pineapple cup has no known published equivalent. The two might well be unique. The two are similar but they are not a pair. The main difference is that the two sits on different stands. The leaf arrangements also differ slightly. Almost certainly both were produced by the same workshop, but probably at different times.
|Location of Origin: Latin America|
|Dimensions: height: 37cm, weight: 1.480g|
|Primary Classification: Antiques, Decorative Arts and Furniture : Silver and Metalwork : Other Silver|
|Secondary Classification: All Other Categories|
|Among wealthier households, silver was part of everyday life in Brazil from the early days of European colonisation. Immigrant Portuguese silversmiths were working in Brazil from around the mid-sixteenth century. They took on local apprentices and a local tradition of silversmithing evolved.|
However, Brazil lacked a local source of silver and had to rely on imported bullion particularly from its neighbour Peru which had vast resources. Cities such as Salvador, Sao Paulo and Rio were among the main commercial centres and also were centres for the silversmithing trade.
Often the silversmiths were organised into co-fraternitiesunder Saint Eloi, the patron saint of silversmiths. Many of the silver articles produced followed European forms - throughout the colonial period, silver items continued to be imported from Portugal which were copied locally. But other forms evolved too - many incorporated local fauna and flora and were often associated with the storing, preparation and drinking of the beverage mate.
Toothpick holders, mate cups, and incense burners were among other items of silver produced in Brazil and in colonial South America more generally which followed the form of a shallow dish on low feet from which a baluster-form column would rise to hold a covered bowl or similar.
Instances of representations of leaves and other vegetation are to be found in ecclesiastic silverware as well: palm branches is silver were made for example and these were used in church processions (see Ribeiro de Oliveira, 1991, p. 177, for an example.)
The pineapple cup and cover here is in excellent condition. It is complete and free of dents, splits or repairs. It is available either separately, or as a pair with the other pineapple cup and cover that we have.
References: Ribeiro de Oliveira, M., et al, Les Portugais au Bresil: L'art dans le vie Quotidienne,<.i> Collection Pimenta Camargo, Fondation Europalia International, 1991. Rishel, J.J. & S. Stratton-Pruitt, The Arts in Latin America 1492-1820, Yale University Press, 2006. Taullard, A., Plateria Sudemericana, Ediciones Espeula de Plata, 2004.
|Provenance: UK art market|
|Price:||Item has been sold.|
|Offered By:||Items for sale from dealers we worked with previously|
121 Mount Vernon, Boston, MA 02108 USA
Item has been sold.
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