Unlike the flat "taillooren," and the "schotels" most of the "fruytschalen" or fruit bowls in the Ximenez-Da Vega inventory would have had a foot and a shaft. Piled high with fruit, these would have stood on the dining table as in the painting Winter by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Hendrik van Balen the Elder, dated 1616, in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich. Such bowls or "tazze" could also be used as drinking vessels and for serving sweetmeats.

Fruit bowls, which often had a figural scene embossed in the well, were presumably for the most part made in Antwerp. Such bowls were probably regarded as the most important type of secular silverware in that city, as most inventories list just one or two bowls as the only items of silverware, though there could also be more than ten of them, depending on the wealth and status of the owner. Many fruit bowls were adorned with the owner's coat of arms, as is the case with the twelve examples in the Ximenez-Da Vega household. The inventory also lists various special bowls, such as the "genoffelschalen," literally "carnation plates," which were presumably decorated with carnations around the rim, similar to an extant Antwerp bowl dating from 1670-71. Also remarkable is the inventory's description of a large bowl, weighing about one kilogram, "with diamond-like points." This too recalls a bowl of Antwerp provenance with a wavy, pointed well dating from 1548-49.

In addition to the bowls, the inventory also lists "salvos," the salvers used mainly to serve beverages. The inventory differentiates between flat "salvos," in other words plates without a foot, and hexagonal "salvos." Also listed is a most unusual combination: a "salvo" with salt and pepper boxes, indicating that these two seasonings were already being paired up in a condiment set with its own tray – an important step in the development of seventeenth-century dining culture.

Lorenz Seelig, Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (retired), Munich


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