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. Melijn succeeded in chasing near three-dimensional figures in a flat silver plate, thereby creating the effect of a relief from classical antiquity. These works were probably commissioned by Maria Spinola. In 1636 she was the only still living person of those portrayed, and the most important reliefs present scenes from her life. Here you see the solemnization of her marriage.