Set of twelve Italian silver-gilt finger bowls with snake handles


Made for use in grand dinner gatherings, this set of 12 finger bowls is an Art Nouveau-style decorative collection displaying expert craftsmanship.


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This fantastic set of 12 silver gilt finger bowls was crafted during the 20th century and provide an excellent representation of the late Art Nouveau decorative style in the Italian Peninsula.

A finger bowl is a bowl of water that dinner guests use for rinsing their fingers. In a formal meal, the finger bowl is brought to the table at the time of the dessert course of the meal, and guests set it aside for use after the last course, just before leaving the table. Thus, the set is comprised of 12 identical bowls meant to be distributed to the guests at a dinner party.

The bowls are rounded in shape but are decorated by embossed motifs arranged in a frieze pattern along the mid-section. A first frieze pattern, around each bowl’s foot, consists of convex circle decorations. A second, larger frieze, around the wall, displays convex drop-shaped decorations on one half and concave circular ones, on the other.

But the Art Nouveau charm of these pieces is mostly focused on the intricately carved snake-form handles which adorn each bowl. The snakes are meticulously depicted, their skin texture masterfully conveyed by the precision of the carving. The snakes’ tails are fashioned in a loop to serve as handles and extend along the rim of the bowl.

Each bowl is hallmarked with the maker’s mark and an ‘800’ mark, for the purity of the silver.

These bowls can provide a decadent addition to a formal dinner set but also just a charming decorative element to any butler’s pantry or living room.


Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
20th Century
20th Century
Art Nouveau


3 cm / 1.2 inches
12 cm / 4.7 inches
9.5 cm / 3.5 inches


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