RAPE OF THE SABINE WOMEN


SILVER SPOON


rape of sabine women spoon
This is a magnificent one-of-a-kind custom  made silver serving spoon featuring the  "Rape of the Sabine Woman" Sculpture at the finial.
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 years.
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 style,  Mannerism.

rape of sabine woman silver spoonrape of sabine women

                                                                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 their existence.


italian putti silver marriage spoon
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.


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.



"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 masters."

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