This is a magnificent one-of-a-kind custom made silver serving
spoon featuring the "Rape of the Sabine Woman" Sculpture at the
Measuring about 10.5" the spoon would have been used only for a special event.
The silver mark is a fleur-de-lys near the left upper portion of the bowl.
The location of the mark makes me think that the spoon is French manufacture. The wiring down the handle makes me think Italian.
The city silver mark for Verdun, France is a fleur-de-lys, but Verdun
has not been a significant producer of silver items for hundreds of
Basically, I do not the origin or metallic purity of this item, but the quality of the workmanship is excellent.
(I do suspect that it is good silver quality).
The finial is a finely cast replica of Giambologna's most famous marble sculpture mounted on a silver pedestal.
The long twisty stem features a serrated silver wire decoration.
The bowl and stem are all soldered together with a winged putti design.
The bowl is an unusual oblong shape and appears to be a leaf
or flower derivative and is consistent with
quality custom silver servers from the 1870-1890 era.
My guess is that this spoon was created in the 1870-1900 time period and probably Italian or French
The original 13 foot tall sculpture, commissioned by the Medici
family, was from a single huge block of marble and carved by the
famous Flemish artist, Giambologna circa 1579-1583. It is situated in
the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Italy. The statue is considered to be
a masterpiece of the art style known as Mannerism and has
had enormous effects on the artistic stylings of generations of
artists and sculptors.
Giambologna determined that his sculpture (shortly before installation
and not during the planning phase) should illustrate the legendary
"Rape of the Sabine women", from early Roman mythology, where Romulus
and his male followers were seeking wives with whom to start
families. The Sabine tribe refused to allow their women to marry
anyone from the Roman tribe. The Romans staged a festival of Neptune
Equester, invited their Sabine neighbors, and on a given signal
snatched Sabine women, while fighting off their men. Note that,
in this context, the translation of the Latin word raptio as "rape" is
misleading, as no physical violation was involved. A much more accurate
and current translation is "The Abduction of the Sabine Women".
According to Livy, Romulus spoke to them declaring "that what was
done was owing to the pride of their fathers, who had refused to grant
the privilege of marriage to their neighbors; but notwithstanding, they
should be joined in lawful wedlock, participate in all their
possessions and civil privileges, and, than which nothing can be dearer
to the human heart, in their common children." Florence was a
Roman village and had a long history of Roman architecture and
artifacts and this was all part of the reason the statue was named
after this Roman legend.
This monumental statue depicts three figures, an older bearded
nude man kneeling on the ground, his left arm raised in self-defense; a
second younger nude male, who stands over the kneeling man and holds
a struggling nude woman in his well-muscled arms. The kneeling man
represents the weak elderly father of the young Sabine woman who is
being abducted by the muscled youthful Roman. All three are interwoven
into the group, through physical contact and eye contact with
each other. The impression of sinuous movement is initiated by
the woman's outstretched arms, and continues through the muscular
figure of the young Roman abductor, and ends in the raised arm of
the dominated father. The artist's use of exaggerated gestures, allows
him to show energy and flexibility which characterizes the art
The left picture is a detail of the finial on the spoon
and the right picture is one of the very few examples of a silver
version of this sculpture.
The spoon sculpture is finely done and
shows details of fingers, toes and even has a 'fig leaf' over
both the Roman and father's genital areas. On the original
statue, the Roman's genital area is shown and Giambologna's signature
plaque is near the genital area of the kneeling man.
Extensive research shows very few cast silver reproductions of this
statue. A couple have been auctioned off by the major auction
houses and a few bronze versions are known. A number of tourist copies
of this statue are made from marble dust or alabaster molds and
plastic. I do not know of any demitasse souvenir type spoons
depicting this sculpture, but I would not be surprised to learn of
Despite the negative English translation of the Latin ('raptio' does not equal 'rape'), this
statue was used by generations of artists to show the importance of
marriage to the continuation of the family and culture. I believe
that this spoon was custom produced for use at a wedding and thus we
should classify it as a 'marriage spoon'. To the best of my knowledge
this is the only spoon like this in existence.
At the base of the stem is an Italian winged putti. These putti figures come in many different variations and are found on
both religious and secular art starting in the 1420's. They were also quite popular during the Mannerist period.
Putti are often associated with the Goddess Aphrodite and thus with both romantic and erotic love.
"Mannerism, Italian Manierismo, (from maniera, “manner,” or
“style”), artistic style that predominated in Italy from
the end of the High Renaissance in the 1520s to the beginnings of the
Baroque style around 1590. The Mannerist style originated in Florence
and Rome and spread to northern Italy and, ultimately, to much of
central and northern Europe. The term was first used around the end of
the 18th century by the Italian archaeologist Luigi Lanzi to define
16th-century artists who were the followers of major Renaissance