Holy Water Stoup / Font with Gilt Virgin Mary
Repoussé silver and silver gilt
Hallmark: Azpiazu, Bilbao, Spain
Silver: 36 high x 24 wide x 7.5 deep / 337.5 grams
Plaque: 46 high x 33 wide
This highly decorative silver holy water font or stoup, is stamped with hallmarks placing its manufacture in Aspiazu, Bilbao, Spain during the late 18th century. The raised figure of the Virgin Mary at the center is silver gilt (or vermeil), in which silver is plated with a thin coating of gold. The surrounding designs, abstract, floral and garlands, were handcrafted using a technique known as “repoussé” when flat silver is shaped by hammering from the reverse side, creating a raised design to be viewed from the front. The small bowl at the bottom, meant for holding holy water, is also hand fashioned and decorated in repoussé. Included with the stoup is a red magenta velvet covered wooden plaque from which it hangs.
Stoups are smaller versions of the large holy water fonts found at the door of all Catholic churches, and are traditionally hung by the door of a home for the purpose of crossing one's self when entering or leaving. They are also found in bedrooms for bedtime prayer and blessings.