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Fish slice

  • Place of origin:

    Brighton (made)
    London (hallmarked)

  • Date:

    1992 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Jane Short MBE (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Sterling silver, gold and enamel

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Professor B. Seymour Rabinovitch

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

  • Public access description

    The classical trowel shape of the piece offers an exciting contrast to the modern design. In the mythical marine scene depicted, a mermaid rises from ocean depths and blows fish up the handle. Short has deftly captured the depth and lustre of the colours. The enamelling uses the basse taille technique over the engraving, beautifully integrated with the surrounding silver. The swirling waves of the engraved silver complement the marine motif and create a luxuriant, opulent feel, enhanced by the split boss fastened by three 18 carat gold screws. The piece is a successful fusion between modern design and a highly decorative classical style.

  • Physical description

    The server is in the form of a trowel. The heart-shaped blade is heavily engraved on both the top and the underside with swirling waves and currents. A central triangular area enamelled in blue-green depicts a mermaid rising from the deep and blowing seven fish up the enamelled and engraved handle. The blade is grasped by a split boss, triangular on top and a rounded V underneath, and fastened by three 18 carat gold screws. The underside of the blade is counter-enamelled in a deep blue-green sea. The enamelling is basse taille over the engraving. The mermaid's head is outlined by a man-in-the-moon over a gold sun; snails and shells accentuate the marine motif.

  • Marks and inscriptions

    London hallmarks for 1992

    Mark of Jane Short MBE.

  • Dimensions

    Length: 33 cm, Weight: 400 g

  • Object history note

    Fairfax House Fish & Cake Slice exhibition RF.2004/419

    Historical significance: The artist was inspired by the richness and splendour of enamel to use fanciful imagery; a mythical mermaid. The richness of colour and imagery is complemented by the highly decorative engraved silver.

  • Historical context note

    Part of a collection of fish slices commissioned by Professor Rabinovitch from contemporary North American and British makers.

  • Descriptive line

    Silver, gold and enamel, London hallmarks for 1992, mark of Jane Short MBE.

  • Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

    Benton Seymour Rabinovitch and Helen Clifford, Contemporary Silver, commissioning, designing, collecting, London, Merrell, 2000, pp. 84-5. ill. ISBN.1858941040

  • Labels and date

    This collection of silver slices, all commissioned over a period of twenty years by Professor Benton Seymour Rabinovitch FRS, is proof of the skill and diversity of contemporary silversmiths. Each artist craftsman has responded to the familiar functional form of the slice in an individual way, producing an astonishingly diverse range of interpretations. Each piece becomes an enchanting, decorative work of art. Professor Rabinovitch established a close rapport with each artist, always encouraging a freedom of creative expression. The response of these silversmiths has been not only to be strikingly imaginative but also to honour him by giving him their best work.

    This collection is testimony to the significant contribution that one individual can make to supporting the craft of silversmithing. After commissioning work from some of the most illustrious names in British and North American silversmithing, Professor Rabinovitch has very generously donated his entire collection to the Victoria and Albert Museum, through the American Friends of the V&A. [2005]

  • Collection code

    Metalwork Collection