Elsewhere the Countess says: "Utensils of common metal are not employed here, but only those of silver or of ware. I hear that a little while ago, upon the death of the Duke of Albur-querque, six weeks were needed to make out an inventory of his gold and silver services. His house contained fourteen hundred dozen plates, five hundred large dishes, and seven hundred of a smaller size, with all the other pieces in proportion, and forty silver ladders for climbing his sideboard, made in grades like an altar in a spacious hall."
These statements have been proved in later years. Dating from 1560, an inventory of the ducal house of Alburquerque was found not many years ago. In it we find the detailed list of gold and silver; cups and dishes, bowls and basins, plates and salt-cellars, trenchers, wine and water flagons, sauce-spoons, salad-spoons, conserve-spoons, and innumerable other articles. Here, too, we find, upon the mighty sideboard mounted by its forty silver stairs, such objects as the following: -
1 But on the other hand I much suspect that the following passage in Alvarez de Colmenar's Annales d' Espagne et de Portugal (vol. iii. p. 326) is stolen from Countess d'Aulnoy. "Elles ne portent point de colier, mais en echange elles ont des bracelets, des bagues, et des pendans d'oreille, plus gros que tous ceux qu'on voit en Hollande. Telle est la diversite des gouts des nations differentes, en matiere de beaute. II y en a meme quelques-unes, qui attachent quelque beau joli bijou a leurs pendans d'oreilles, quelque ornement de pierreries, par exemple, ou d'autres choses semblables, selon leur quantite ou leur pouvoir."
"A gold cup with festoon-work above and beneath, wrought with leaves in relief. At the top of the foot there issue some leaves that fall down over a small gold staple, and below this, about the narrowest part of the foot, are leaves in relief and several dolphins. The broad part of the foot is decorated with festoons. The lid of this cup is wrought with leaves in relief, and on the crest thereof is a lion, crowned. The cup weighs three hundred and fifty-one castellanos and a half."
"A Castilian jar from which my lord the duke was wont to drink, weighing two marks and five ounces."1
"A cup with a high foot, gilt all over, with the figure of a woman in its midst, and decorated in four places in the Roman manner."
"A flagon of white silver, flat beneath the stem, with a screw-top surmounted by a small lion; for cooling water."
1 The mark was a standard of eight ounces, and was divided into fifty castellanos.
"A small silver dish, of the kind they call meat-warmers."
"A large silver seal for sealing provisions, with the arms of my lord the duke, Don Francisco."
"A large silver vessel, embossed, with a savage on top."
"A gold horse, enamelled in white upon a gold plate enamelled in green and open at the top; also a wolf, upon another gold plate enamelled in green, with lettering round about it; also a green enamelled lizard upon blue enamel; and a gold toothpick with four pieces enamelled in green, white, and rose; also a small gold column enamelled in black and rose."
"A silver lemon-squeezer, gilt and chiselled, with white scroll-work about the mesh thereof, through which the lemon-juice is strained."
"A large round silver salt-cellar, in two halves, gilt all over, with scales about the body, and two thick twisted threads about the flat part. One side of it is perforated."
Among the property of the duchess, Dona Mencia Enriquez, we find "a small gold padlock, which opens and closes by means of letters"; two gold bangles; a gold necklace consisting of forty-two pieces "enamelled with some B's";1 a gold signet ring with the duchess's arms; and "a gold and niello box with relics, for wearing round the neck." Also, resting on a table covered with silver plates, "a box of combs; the said box wrought in gold upon blue leather, containing five combs, a looking-glass, a little brush, and other fittings; girt with a cord in gold and blue silk."
The seventeenth century and a race of native Spanish kings declined and passed away together. A dynasty of France succeeded to the throne of Spain, and with the foreigner came a fresh reactionary movement towards the neo-classic art, coupled with the canons of French taste. Henceforth a century of slow political reform goes hand in hand with slow suppression of the salient parts of Spanish character. Madrid transforms or travesties herself into a miniature Versailles, and national arts and crafts belong henceforward to a Frenchified society which found its painter in Goya, just as the preceding and eminently Spanish society had found its painter in Velazquez.
Another of the causes of the falling-off in Spanish orfebreria at this time, is stated to have been the craftsmen's overwhelming tendency to substitute the slighter though venerable and beautiful gold or silver filigree (Plate xviii.), for more artistic and ambitious, if less showy work in massive metal. Thus, in 1699, a supplementary chapter of the Ordinances of Seville complained in bitter phrases of this tendency, denouncing it as "a source of fraud and detriment to the republic," and deploring that "of the last few years we have forsaken our goodly usages of older times, in the matter of the drawings entrusted to the candidates who come before us for examination."
1 For Beltran de la Cueva, ancestor of this family.
In the same year the goldsmiths' and the silversmiths' guild of Seville enacted that none of its members were to work in filigree, unless they were qualified to execute the other work as well. Such efforts to suppress this evil were not new. More than a century before, on April 15th, 1567, the inspectors of the guild had entered the shop of Luis de Alvarado, silversmith, and seized some filigree earrings "of the work that is forbidden," breaking these objects on the spot, and imposing a fine of half-a-dozen ducats on the peccant or oblivious Alvarado.1
1 Gestoso, Diccionario de Artifices Sevillanos, vol. ii. p. 134.
Early Chalice And Cross In Filigree Gold Work (Church of saint Isidore. Loan)