Saturday, 15 July 2017

Rosewater Dish … or Venus Rosewater Trophy at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships …



Wimbledon has almost come and gone … we’re still in the Mixed Doubles (with Heather Watson, and Jamie Murray – who will compete against each other in the final on Sunday) … sadly Andy Murray is injured, and Johanna Konta just couldn’t cope with Venus’ fast playing ability … but she will learn …

Wimbledon Singles
Championship trophies

… however there have been some extraordinary matches and Johanna Konta, whose parents live in Eastbourne, definitely is touching greatness …


… she is determined, practices hard, learns quickly, positive in all things, prepared to give of her time – but passionate about winning and succeeding … sounds like us?!


Enough of that … how about more Rosewater, after the last post? … Wimbledon connections – tennis and food … sounds good to me!  

It is except I looked and found some other interesting information … so this will be the first of three short posts – where Rosewater, food and history feature.

Virginia Wade having won
in 1977

The Venus Rosewater Dish (will probably be Venus’s this year … but the Spaniard Garbine Muguruza may have something to say about that …) has been presented to the Ladies’ Singles Champion since 1886 – when the ladies were first allowed to compete.

Oh well ... predictions are meant to go wrong aren't they? - I didn't see the match and amazingly Garbine Muguruza won ... so we have a new star in the tennis firmament.


Why - Rosewater dish – it was a ceremonial platter used after eating to catch warm or cold Rosewater poured from ewers over the hands to wash them … a daily ceremony amongst royalty and the nobility until the advent of soap and water.  They were made of pewter prior to the 1500s, then increasingly of silver, or in exceptional cases gold …

Silver salvers from the 1730s

A salver (Latin salva, save from risk) was originally used by food tasters, who tested food for poison … the Rosewater dish was considered a salver by extension.



It is something of a misnomer … as none of the mythological figures on the dish is Venus; nor is the theme of decoration related to tennis, but to Classical Mythological. 

Close up showing 'relief' workmanship


The general size of these salvers made them perfect canvases upon which to emblazon coats of arms, figures from antiquity, classical scenes and so on.


Here the central boss depicts the figure of Venus (not Sophrosyne - the personification of temperance and moderation - as the concept of the dish caught on in the 1800s when various copies were made: the original is in the Louvre).



The dish shows Venus seated on a chest with lamp in her right hand and jug in her left, with various attributes such as a sickle, fork and caduceus around her.


The Seven Liberal Arts: imagefrom the
Hortus Deliciarum of Herrad of
Landsberg (12th C)
The four reserves on the boss of the dish each contain a classical god with their elements.  The reserves around the rim show Minerva presiding over the seven liberal arts: astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, music, rhetoric, dialectic and grammar, each with relevant attribute.


The rim of the salver has an ovolo moulding.  The remainder of the surface is decorated with gilt renaissance strapwork and foliate motifs in relief against a rigid silver ground.



The curious history  of the trophy known as the Venus Rosewater Dish, a dish that does not have Venus on it, nor holds rosewater, but such is the nature of replication, reproduction and appropriation in art, that the Wimbledon original remains at the Club, the champion takes home a reduced reproduction of the trophy, that is itself a copy.


Watching Wimbledon in Canary Wharf -
the new business district to the east
of the City

The trophy looks stunning doesn’t it … and I’d love to have a look at it with someone who can take me through the classical mythology story woven into this gilded, sterling silver salver.



I might have to rethink watching Wimbledon in the coming years ... and take a trip to watch this way.


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

42 comments:

Out on the prairie said...

I have missed watching. I caught a bit a while back, but can't sit long enough.Waiting on late risers to get some food in me today.

baili said...

excellent piece of writing.
for me quite informative.

best wishes for your favorites my friend

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've been to Wimbledon matches but didn't know the history of the dish.

Chatty Crone said...

Are you surprised I am really not into tennis - but I love history. I had NO idea of this dish or it's history. Awesome.

Janie Junebug said...

I wasn't aware that the women's champion receives a replica of the Rosewater Dish. It's stunning--much better than the regular trophy.

Love,
Janie

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Steve - me too ... I'm usually doing something else - like here, as I've just got home. Enjoy your breakfast once 'them late risers' arise to cook you some food, or more likely you them! ...

@ Baili - glad you enjoyed the post ...

@ Alex - Wimbledon is a delight ...but now if you went - it is very different, I found it so. I'm glad I've found out about the history of the dish ...

@ Sandy - no ... not really surprised, but it's lovely to see you here. Glad the history of the Rosewater Dish 'surprised' you ... thanks!

@ Janie - yes - it's a 3/4 size replica they are given ... but must be amazing to have won - the men's trophy has history too ... so next year ... and I agree the Rosewater Dish is stunning ..

Thanks to you all - it's good to know you enjoyed the post - thank you ... cheers Hilary

Elephant's Child said...

I am endlessly grateful for the fascinating snippets you find and share. Often things I would never think to question/explore for myself.
Megathanks.
And a part of me wonders whether the winners of this trophy know as much about its history as you do. I suspect not.

Patsy said...

I like the idea of washing in rosewater.

Deborah Weber said...

Fabulous post Hilary. I knew nothing about Rosewater dishes - not even that they were Wimbledon trophies! I feel a bit ridiculous about that little lack of knowledge, especially considering my mother was such a huge tennis fan.

But I especially love the idea of rinsing one hands with rose water - yum!

A Cuban In London said...

You spoke too soon. Or wrote too soon. :-) Venus lost (to my disappointment. I was rooting for her). Konta was very, very good. Excellent post. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

bookworm said...

I can't provide any new information on this post - but I thought back to earlier this year, when I visited an art museum in Richmond, Virginia - they had a wonderful exhibit of British silver. I didn't have the time to really get into the exhibit but now I will have to return one day and see if I understand better what I was looking at. The Unknown Journey Ahead agingonthespectrum.blogspot.com

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,

Of course, you know now the outcome of the women's final. Yep, Venus didn't get the Venus Rosewater Dish.

A fascinating post and I shall make no mention of new balls, please.

Have a lovely Sunday and wonder what will happen in the men's final.

Cheers,

Gary :)

Anabel Marsh said...

Sad that it wasn't Venus - still, it was an amazing achievement for her to get to the final at 37. Interesting history of the dish.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC - thanks Sue for enjoying these 'snippets' of things that fascinate me, which I consider anyone who reads here might enjoy too ... delighted to know - I suspect others wouldn't have delved quite as far as I have - though it's easily available ... after a bit of searching, that then ended up with other posts to come ...

@ Patsy - I agree washing in rosewater would be lovely and today we are lucky that we can do so many of that sort of thing ...

@ Deborah - it's strange how some bits of history can remain unknown ... and I only looked at the history this year as I wanted something different to write about - then I get three posts out of deciding to look ...

Memories for you of your mother - glad I brought those back to you ... and yes rinsing with rose water on a regular basis would be rather good idea wouldn't it ...

@ ACIL - I certainly guessed too soon - but having had a brief glimpse at Muguruza (after I got back last night) ... it looks like she overwhelmed Venus, as Venus had done to Konta ... but there were some excellent matches this year. Glad you enjoy the post - thanks ...

@ Bookworm - I remember you mentioned visiting the art museum in Richmond, Virginia earlier this year and their works of art that you weren't able to get round seeing it all ... I hope you'll get back to visit sometime - the Museum sounds like it has some wonderful exhibits ...

@ Gary - I couldn't possibly bring up the balls could I - I've kept them for next year?! I gather and noted Venus had lost ... Muguruza had played really well - a queen of the tennis in the future. I shan't be watching the men's final - but I hope Federer wins ... though after the Venus prediction ... perhaps I should reconsider that prediction!

@ Anabel - I think many were rooting for Venus - still a new champion is always a good thing.

Cheers to you all - so glad the post has interested you ... I shall see the headlines in London town ... I'm hoping it doesn't rain! Enjoy Sunday - Hilary

Kim Blades said...

Hello Hilary. It really is a stunning bowl but I wonder why it is used as a Wimbledon trophy. I haven't watched any Wimbledon for years, or any other tennis even though I used to play a bit when I was in my twenties. A lovely post Hilary. Take care. Kim

Jo said...

Never been to Wimbledon but used to follow it devotedly on TV at one time. I didn't know about the trophies before so thanks for the information. It is a lovely salver I agree.

Jacqui Murray said...

Excellent post. I never pay much attention to Wimbledon so was glad to have you give me a rundown on the background.

Joanne said...

so much Wimbledon history and tradition to be had. I love watching this tournament and would love to visit it live. I was rooting for Venus - for such a tall powerful woman she can float around the court and rip off some beautiful shots. However, Garbine just kept getting better and adjusted to each maneuver by Venus. Alas, I do think Venus'age (a ripe 37) proved her undoing and her energy flagged. But she kept it classy and was a gracious loser. We shall see more of Garbine. Now - back to your post - quite interesting.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Fascinating post, Hilary! I'm not into watching tennis or golf on TV, so I didn't watch any of the Wimbleton coverage, but it's really interesting to read about the Venus Rosewater dish. (Too bad Venus didn't win it this time around.) I hope the women who win this every year also receive a printout of its history, so they can better appreciate it.

Robert Bennett said...

This is actually pretty cool. It feels like something that would be more about the Olympics than Tennis.

Liz A. said...

I had no idea what it was called. Thanks for this.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Kim - it is a stunning piece of work isn't it ... I can't see why it came to be presented to the Women's Champion ... but must have been to provide a trophy of a high class that matched the Men's trophy. And somehow it was the item chosen ... it was the work of art of the time period - highly regarded workmanship. I now haven't played tennis for years ... but still enjoy watching Wimbledon.

@ Jo - thankfully we still get it here and enjoy watching when I can. I was out or away over the two weekend days ... so missed most of the finals. Glad you thought it worthwhile to read up about the trophy ...

@ Jacqui - Wimbledon's always been something I've enjoyed ... but am happy you enjoyed reading up on the silver salver.

@ Joanne - so many of us love watching the tournament ... and yes I might put in for tickets to attend again one year. I didn't see Venus' match - but she was certainly well and truly beaten by Garbine ... it's good to read your comments as I wasn't here to see the match. Also Venus has that disease that must sap her energy ...

@ Susan - I watch some of the tennis when I'm around ... and on occasion the odd bit of golf - but I'm not stuck watching the tournaments. I'm sure some of the players and winners will find out about and have an interest in the history of the two trophies ... I expect when they get their replicas there will be an informative cover sheet included.

@ Robert - Wimbledon started before the Olympics came into being ... and must have been very prestigious in 1877 - hence these incredible trophies being awarded to the two championship winners.

@ Liz - the Venus Rosewater Dish has an interesting history as a work of art ...

Cheers to you all - have very good weeks - Hilary



Keith's Ramblings said...

I'd never even considered the story behind the trophy. I'm yet to discover why the men's trophy has a pineapple on top! Right, I'm off scarecrow spotting in Pevensey Bay!

Click to visit Keith's Ramblings

cleemckenzie said...

The history of the salver is fascinating. I've seen it in pictures but never thought about the significance of the design. I didn't see this year's Wimbledon, but I love watching tennis. It's the only sport I enjoy on TV. Interesting results this year.

Spacer Guy said...

Hi Hilary, Knowing the rich historical background of the sterling silver is fascinating and gives you something to think about really as the tennis ball bounces from one end of the court until finally...game set and match

Emily Bloomquist said...

Hi Hilary, The few times I have watched the championship match, I wondered why the winner received a salver. Thank you for the lovely description of it and the history behind them.

Emily

Pat Hatt said...

Wow, sure been around a while indeed. I'd hate to have the food tester's job, makes mine look great in comparison lol Never knew there was such mythology woven into. Bet most winners don't even know.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

We watched a lot of the matches off and on. What tremendous athletes. Nice to know the ladies were 'allowed' to participate from the 1800's.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Salva - must be the root of salvage too? Your posts always delight with unknown gems of info...Wimbledon is a must watch (on the box) for family father never misses it even at 85+

Have a blissful week!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Keith - thanks ... I've saved the men's trophy info for next year ... but as a chef the pineapple should ring historical bells for you? Wonderful day yesterday ... and I'm sure the scarecrows were impressive - I've seen a few of them; I think there's a big burn up of them at Sharnfolds on Saturday ...

@ Lee - like you .. I knew the salver was stunning to look at - but hadn't checked out the hows and whys of its munificence. There were some outstanding matches this year - the tennis seems to have gone up a notch. I will watch or have the sports I enjoy on the radio or tv while I do other things ... but can do without them.

@ Spacer Guy - good to see you - and yes knowing more about the history of the salver then sets one off (well it does me!) on looking up other things! During two weeks - there's always things I find out.

@ Emily - so glad I've brought a little 'enlightenment' to the Wimbledon Rosewater Dish ... it's fascinating the artistry that is encompassed in particularly this piece - it must be a delight to see ...

@ Pat - the Dish itself is only 150 years old or so; I agree testing food before others actually got to eat their meal is a bit much, but necessary for the Emperor, noble head of the house or other luminary with lots of enemies ... not good for the taster if it was poisoned.

I feel certain the replica which is given to the winners (the original is handed back!) will have a presentation leaflet with it - explaining its origins etc and the details ...

@ Susan - that's good you were able to see some of the matches. I agree tremendous athletes ... incredible how they improved over the decades - the work they put in to being so flexible, having great eye-hand co-ordination etc.

I see I didn't put the dates in - remiss of me ... the men's championship started in 1877, while the women had their own from 1884, when the men's doubles was also added; the ladies' doubles and mixed events were included in 1913.

@ Nila - yes salva goes into salvage - but salvage itself only came about in the middle ages - through the French salvage (old French) 'salver' "to save" - from the 1400s ...

So glad the tiny extra snippets resonate with you ... and how wonderful your father still enjoys his tennis ... my mother in those last years enjoyed the tennis - we'd watch together ... happy memories for us both...

Cheers to you all - have lovely rest of the week - Hilary

Shannon Lawrence said...

What a neat history of Rosewater. The trophy may be a reproduction, but it's lovely. Random side fact: There was a Moroccan restaurant here that had us wash our hands in rosewater before our meals. Quite enjoyable.

Annalisa Crawford said...

It's beautiful, such detail in the design.

Karen Lange said...

It is a stunning trophy, and represents such great tradition. I didn't catch any of Wimbledon this year. We usually see at least a bit but have had too much going on. Guess I could see highlight online, couldn't I? :) Thanks for sharing these wonderful tidbits and history - so interesting! Have a great rest of the week!

Misha Gericke said...

Interesting! I never realized the detail on the trophy, but then I'm not really much of a tennis watcher.

Sandra Cox said...

The salvers are stunning. The artisans that made them were incredibly creative.
Sounds like you now have options for watching competitive tennis:)
YOU, have a great one:)

Guilie Castillo said...

What a fabulous piece of history you've unearthed here, Hilary—I love finding out where these trophies and other famous standards of our modern age come from. Thanks for that! (And for the visit over at Quiet Laughter earlier this month... Sorry it took me so long to come visit you.)
Guilie

D Biswas said...

Why - Rosewater dish – it was a ceremonial platter used after eating to catch warm or cold Rosewater poured from ewers over the hands to wash them … a daily ceremony amongst royalty and the nobility until the advent of soap and water.


Thanks for that factoid. I was smiling as I read it.

Damyanti

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Shannon - it is rather lovely isn't it. Fascinating to read of your Moroccan restaurant using rosewater to wash your hands in ... that must have given off a lovely fragrance before your meal.

@ Annalisa - it is so amazing in its detail and depth of depiction ...

@ Karen - you could see highlights - but I must say it's never quite the same as watching at the time. There were some incredible matches though. Glad you enjoyed the snippets of info re the Rosewater dish ...

@ Misha - I knew there was a lot of detail on the dish, but had no idea of the representations of it ...

@ Sandra - the two trophies are incredible and yes the creativity in making them is quite extraordinary. I only watch Wimbledon, Queens and some Eastbourne, and perhaps the finals of the other majors ...otherwise I don't hang on the tv watching sport ...

@ Guilie - good to see you - well it was certainly well worth finding out about, the classical information is extraordinary ...

@ Damyanti - it's so interesting how things have developed over the centuries ... and washing one's hands was a relatively recent event - strange but true ... I'm happy it made you smile ...

Cheers to you all ... Hilary

Deniz Bevan said...

Ooh, I hadn't known about all that history connected with the trophy. I love silver salvers -- I wish I had more use for them in daily life to justify actually owning a couple :-)
One thing I might do... Is get one of those Wimbledon towels. They always look so clean and fluffy and large -- I just want to bundle up in one!

mail4rosey said...

That is pretty awesome that 'Venus' is on there. I bet Venus and those in her circle noted it at one time or another. :)

sage said...

As Wimbledon is on in my house all day (some, not me get up at 4 AM to watch), I learned something new in your post. Thanks!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Deniz - yes .. I don't know how you get hold of one of those towels - except to be there and manage to grab one - luck, I guess ...

Owning a salver as decorative as that would be amazing -just beautiful and wonderful to behold ...

@ Rosey - yes surprising isn't it that 'Venus' appears on her dish - or what was her salver ... I bet they know ...

@ Sage - thanks ... amazing some members of the family get up so early - but am glad you can pass on your knowledge from this post ...

Cheers to you - and thanks for visiting ... Hilary