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A magnificent Portuguese-colonial Brazilian silver ewer and basin
Rio de Janeiro, circa 1780, with an unidentified maker’s mark HSC, and town mark R for Rio de Janeiro

L. 53 x W. 39 x H. 4 cm / Weight: 2480 grams (basin)

H. 30 x W. 12 cm / Weight: 2040 grams (ewer)

The quality of this ewer and basin, both in form and in
chiselling and engraving truly is exceptional. They probably are by the same maker as a very similar ewer in the Catedral São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, and an ewer and basin, in the Mosteiro de São Bento, a monastery in Rio - both unmarked and dated second half 18th century. The most obvious difference is the handle which in these two ewers is in the form of a dragon instead of a woman. Brazilian silver, even very large pieces, mainly when ordered by the church, is very seldomly marked, and so far, no research into Brazilian silver marks has been conducted. The use of these hand-washing basins and ewers at the table was a welcome requirement due to the frequent absence of cutlery.

Literature:
- Humberto M. Franceshi, O Ofício da Prata no Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, 1988, p. 182-185

- Manuel Gonçalves Vidal, Marcas de Contrastes e Ourives Portugueses, Lisbon, 1974