Judith looks good enough to eat

15 Apr

How droll. Tableware depicting a decapitated head.


unknown from Germany or Netherlands, Fork with Judith with the head of Holofernes, ca. 1650, Steel with carved ivory and silver mounts, 20.2 cm whole, (8.3 cm ivory alone), Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK

This is not a first, however.  A different fork with Judith on the handle was presented in “Judith sets the table” and they are not from a matched set.  This fork is slightly more refined than the two-prong model. From the V&A description:

Knives have been used since prehistoric times, but the history of knives, forks and spoons for eating in Europe probably commenced in the fourteenth century, and their use became accepted by the sixteenth century. Until the late seventeenth century it seems to have been common practice for people to carry their own cutlery, often in a leather case. Ebony, ivory, fish skin, tortoiseshell, amber, bone, horn and shell were all popular for decorating cutlery… Although cutlers were required by their guilds to be able to make a complete knife, handles of carved ivory, silver, bronze and glass were usually imported or made by specialist craftsmen.

A quick search of the internet for “renaissance ivory fork” yields fewer results than imagined — but did inform me that the first fork to bear an English hallmark and engraved with a coat of arms belonged to the Earl of Rutland (1632) and is displayed at the V&A (1).  So now I feel prepared to appreciate the cutlery section as I have never appreciated it before. See you at the V&A! (1) Suzanne Von Drachenfels, The Art of the Table, (retrieved April 6, 2015)

1 Comment

Posted by on April 15, 2015 in Exploring


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One response to “Judith looks good enough to eat

  1. oatmealgirl09

    April 20, 2015 at 2:03 pm


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