PLATE DECORATED WITH FLORAL MOTIFS

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PLATE DECORATED WITH FLORAL MOTIFS

Roman, Republican Period, ca. 1st century BC
Diameter: 5-1/8 inches (13 cm)
Provenance: Private German collection
Sold at public auction Gorny, Munich, 2001, lot # 3056
French cultural certificate issued 6/6/2008

 

This exquisite plate is a masterpiece of the silversmith’s art. The center is adorned with very fine incisions creating a stylized, spoked, six-petaled flower, each petal surmounted by three slender “feathers” resembling fleur-de-lis. The decorative border that embellishes the slightly raised, convex rim is a tour de force of low relief flowers within a delicate running garland, interspersed by three profile views of blossoms.

In the early Republican period, Rome enacted sumptuary laws (Sumptuariae Leges) that restricted the use of luxury goods. A plate such as this one, therefore, was undoubtedly created for a member of the nobility. By the end of the Republic, however, those laws were repealed and profligate luxury was available to all with the means to acquire it, regardless of station.