Ewer and basin (lavabo set)

Maker: Probably made at Chisinau Court Workshop

Date: ca. 1680–85

Culture: Moldovan

Medium: Silver, partially gilded

Dimensions: H.: 20 1/4 in., Diam.: 15 1/4 in., Wt.: 9.7lb. (51.4 cm, 38.7 cm, 4.4kg,)

Classification: Metalwork-Silver

Credit Line: Wrightsman Fund, 2005

Accession Number: 2005.62.1, .2a, b


Uniting the ornate Northern Baroque floral style with the exotic shape of Islamic objects, this lavabo set reflects its unusual history. The coat of arms and initials are those of Ioan Serban Cantacuzino, grand duke and ruler of Wallachia (r. 1678–88). Its substantial weight of nearly ten pounds of silver suggests that it was intended for the dowry of his daughter, Cassandra, who married the Moldavian grand prince, Dimitri Cantemir (1673–1723), in 1699. Cantemir's attempt to liberate his country from the Ottomans in 1711 ended in disaster. The grand prince put his state under Russian suzerainty and went into exile in Russia. The ewer and basin are rare survivors, since most silver objects from the Balkans were melted down.