Knife and fork
Date Made/Found: around 1685
Material and Medium: iron and steel, silver, ivory
Department: Decorative Art
Accession Number: Virtual2004.380-381
The blade of this knife was made by the cutler Robert Ashwood of London, around 1685. The parallel blade is struck with the maker's mark of a horseshoe and the dagger mark of London. The horseshoe mark was passed on to Robert Ashwood in 1664 by his father in law, the cutler William Rush, who had previously registered it in 1643.
The knife and fork have intricately carved hafts made from ivory. These were most probably imported into London from Europe. The blade and fork would have been made Robert Ashwood, who would then have attached (hafted) these to the ivory handles. Figurative hafts often depicted mythological or religious subjects. Some pairs depicted men and women in period dress and were perhaps given as wedding gifts. More risqué examples of couples embracing and nude figures also exist from around this time.
The figure of Jupiter is hafted onto the knife. Jupiter was the king of the gods within Roman mythology. His authority is symbolised by his crown and the sceptre he holds in his left hand. In his right hand is a representation of thunder and lightening, referencing his role as god of the sky. Jupiter's messenger, an eagle, stands before him. The two tine fork bears the figure of Juno, wife of Jupiter. At Juno's side stands a sacred peacock, which was said to have drawn her chariot. She also carries a royal sceptre.
These objects form part of the Bill Brown Collection. Supported by The Art Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Friends of Sheffield & Galleries Museums Trust.