Silver Filigree Model of a Llama
length: 20cm, width: 16cm, weight: 811g
This pleasing model of a llama is made almost entirely of solid silver filigree, other than for the four feet on which the tray stands, and the llama’s head and lower legs and feet which are of cast silver.
The model llama stands on a filigree tray to which it is attached by means of silver screws. The tray has a wide, raised rim with a scalloped edge.
The llama itself has a hollow body and stands in typical pose with the neck and head arched back and with the ears somewhat floppy. The face is naturalistically modelled. The corners of the mouth are engraved with two concentric circles.
The filigree is intact and free of dents or any obvious repairs. The overall ensemble is surprisingly heavy in the hand.
Spanish and Portuguese colonialism was responsible for the propagation of silver and gold filigree work around the world from South America to India to China. The colonialists created a demand both for local expatriate demand and also for export back to Europe.
In Peru, the city of Ayucucho became an important centre for this type of work. Models and incense burners in the shape of turkeys and deer were produced as well as llamas.
A similar model llama and tray was exhibited at an exhibition of South American colonial silver at the State Museum of Ethnology (Staatliche Museum fur Volkerkunde) in Munich in 1981. The Munich model llama was featured on the cover of the 554-page catalogue that accompanied the exhibition (Luis Ribera & Schenone, 1981, front cover and p. 146-7.) The Munich example and the example here have almost identical dimensions and weight. The corners of the mouths have similar engraved circle embellishments. Other aspects such as the filigree work, and modelling of the feet, tray, legs, and use of ‘rope-twist’ silverwork to hide the joins all suggest that the Munich example and the one here are the work of the same silversmith.
Luis Ribera, A., & H.H. Schenone, Plateria Sudamericana de los Siglos XVII-XX, Hirmer Verlag Muchen, 1981.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 1931
The front cover of Luis Ribera, A., & H.H. Schenone, Plateria Sudamericana de los Siglos XVII-XX, Hirmer Verlag Muchen, 1981.