Box with Episodes from the Life of the Spinola Family, Mattheus Melijn, 1636
In the 17th century various silversmiths from the Netherlands were active in the Italian city of Genoa. They were celebrated for their skills in rendering stories in very high relief. These plaquettes are made by the most famous of these craftsmen, Mattheus Melijn of Antwerp. They feature episodes from the life of the Spinola family, and show how a city can be conquered: Maria Spinola procured a duchy through the power of love, her brother Ambrogio through military might. Gianbattista Spinola here receives the keys to the Duchy of San Pietro in Galatina (Sicily). From then on, he and his wife Maria Spinola were the duke and duchess and were adored by the people.