Salver or Washbasin
Flanders, Antwerp
1580 <> 1581
The flat base of this salver indicates that it was probably intended for ritual washing or purification rites with water, called ablutions, performed in certain Christian ceremonies. It could have been designed to carry another vessel, a ewer, as part of a set.
Crafted by a Flemish goldsmith, this piece shows that commissioning artworks from Flanders (the Netherlands) was widely practised among Madeiran merchants throughout the 15th and 16th centuries.
In the centre of the piece, a medallion portrays the Roman god Janus, the god of beginnings, of passages and transitions, who rules time, presiding over all beginnings and endings. It is, therefore, depicted with two faces: one looking to the past and the other to the future. It is believed that the first month of the year, January, was named after this god.

Gilded, chiselled silver
Dimensions: Antwerp silvermark

Funchal Cathedral (Sé)