Decorative Arts - 1 of 11
Maker's Mark IV with a star below
Probably Dutch, 17th century
50.8 cm diameter
Before forks came into widespread use, basins such as these were used in aristocratic settings for the washing of hands before, during and after a meal. This particular basin is unusually sophisticated in design. Six Old Testament scenes are chased within the basin's lobes, each separated by a twin-tailed sea creature. The intricacy of the metalwork suggests that the goldsmith was trained on the Continent, where craft practices were more highly developed than in England; he is known by a number of surviving objects of extraordinary quality.
The strength of the Clark's decorative arts collection is its silver. Primarily English, the collection also includes representative Continental forms, as well as an extensive private collection of American silver on long-term loan. Eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century porcelains from such manufactories as Meissen, Vincennes, Sèvres, and Vienna are also represented. These objects were augmented by a 1986 bequest by Herbert Heidelberger of porcelain made in Worcester, England. Furniture on view at the Clark includes a number of pieces of American manufacture formerly in the George A. Cluett collection, as well as an exceptional grand piano and pair of stools designed by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Finally, a large representation of American blown and molded glass from the Lauzon and Alexander collections entered the Clark through gift and bequest.