Their majesties were visiting for Winterfeast 2011 for which I was the steward and head cook. I decided to base the event on 1560 because I have a vague memory of that date being on the frocks Constanzia had chosen for this reign. So, wanting to make them appropriate eating wear for the event I made some plates!
First up is Gabriel’s plate. I patterned it off Figure 1. I started by searching Victoria and Albert museum online database of images for “Spanish, 16thc, Plate” and brought up a massive database of images. I wanted to replicate an example of a plate with a heraldic crest in the centre. HRM Gabriel’s device is: Per pale sable and azure, a pair of wings and a bordure argent. A plate fitting with the wings theme would be nice.
I chose the plate in Figure 1 because it was one of the few blue on white examples I could find. It also had interesting elongate blobs that I could convert to wing shapes. The plate was made in either Seville or Valencia between 1525-1550. I rather liked the pomegranates as well, as this is the symbol Constanzia had chosen for her guard to wear.
Figure 1: Reference plate used for Gabriel de Beaumont’s plate. Made in Seville or Valencia between 1525-1550. (V&A)
Figure 2 is the result of my work. It took in excess of 40 hours to paint and I’m quite happy with how it turned out. Major changes to the plate include switching the elongate blobs for wings and the tone of the blue utilised (unfortunately, this is the darkest blue available to me). It is only as I write this that I realise that I left out the border argent on his device. Damn. I’m unhappy the plate isn’t as perfect as I wanted.
Figure 2: The front of Gabriel de Beaumont’s plate. The three sections, inner crest, inner circle and outer border, are isolated by solid borders of blue.
The plate has three sections, inner crest, inner circle and outer border. The inner circle was completed first. Though I was as careful as possible in applying the three layers of glaze, some of the larger shapes, such as the wings and the inner crest are a little patchy. The inner circle and the outer border both have the same background fill, however the inner circle concentrates on floral designs while a majority of the outer border features swirls. Figure 3 shows some of the detail of the inner circle which features pomegranates. You can see at the base of the flower, near the leaves, I couldn’t resist putting in a small ant. A small vanity, it’s the only ant on the plate. Compared to the original (Figure 4), I think the features of the inner circle, i.e. the flower and the pomegranates needed thicker lines to highlight them above the complicated background fill. As I’m still new at this, I’m having trouble balancing the images using line thickness.
Figure 3: Inner circle detail of Gabriel de Beaumont’s plate showing a double pomegranate and flower with floral background fill.
Figure 4: Inner circle detail in the original plate. The application of the glaze isn’t smooth and the pomegranates appear to have been made lumpy as an afterthought.
As can be seen in Figure 5, the back of this plate is very simple. This is mostly because I painted the back first before I had chosen a design. There is no image of the back of Figure 1 in V&A and while I was painting I didn’t have any images of the back of other plates so was working from memory. The design is a very simple leaf design. I have noticed that the more complicated period examples have very complicated backgrounds, while simple plates have simple backgrounds. They all, however, have leaf and floral designs. So, a simple back with a complex front doesn’t represent the medieval standards. I’m afraid I also made my makers mark a little too prominent on this plate.
Figure 5: The back of Gabriel de Beaumont’s plate. A simple leaf pattern decorates the base.