Plate with a Fisherman
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Late Antique, Eastern Mediterranean, A.D. 500 - 600
Silver and gold
23 5/8 in.

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Shown seated in a rocky landscape at the edge of the sea, which teems with marine life, an old fisherman takes a fish off his hook. His earlier catch spills forth from baskets and two fish hang in the background. The rim of the plate is gold, and details of the scene are gilded to create color contrasts with the silver background.

Although the Roman Empire was decidedly Christian by the 500s A.D., this period saw a revival of interest in themes and styles drawn from pagan art, specifically that of the Hellenistic period. Both the interesting contrast of the humble scene on such a luxurious object and the coloristic use of the gold are typical of Hellenistic tastes. Silver plates were decorative luxury items made for wealthy and influential patrons in Late Roman society.