About this artwork
Before the advent of modern refrigeration, wines could only be kept cool by storing them in well-insulated cellars, or in basins filled with ice and water. Monteiths, essentially large bowls with notched rims, were used to cool wine glasses. They first appeared in the 1680s, making this example one of the earliest of its kind. The notches were used to hang the foot of the glasses, with the bowls of the glasses dangling in the cool water. The term monteith is thought to be derived from an eccentric Scotsman named Monteith, who wore a coat with scalloped edges similar to the notches on this kind of bowl.
The monteith’s decoration features delicate chinoiserie elements (Western interpretations of Chinese-style motifs). Figures and birds are interspersed with textured panels where the silver has been repeatedly punched in imitation of shagreen, or sharkskin. The botanical ornaments on the panels are most likely bamboo. Although Chinese motifs were already popular on European furniture and textiles, this is a very early example of chinoiserie on silver. The images on the bowl were most likely influenced by the Chinese porcelain that the Dutch East India Company was importing into the European market.
The monteith is marked with the initials D.B., a silversmith who has not yet been identified. At one time, the piece belonged to the earls of Wiltshire in England; it later entered the collection of the American financier J. P. Morgan.
- Currently Off View
- Applied Arts of Europe
- London (Object made in)
- 14.6 × 28.6 cm (5 3/4 × 11 1/4 in.)
- Richard T. Crane Jr. Memorial Fund