A Northern European hammered brass dish, German or Flemish, dating from 1550-1600. Centred with a head of Cicero, (106-43 BC), the Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, and writer, here surrounded by an inscription. The subject matter usually found at the centre of these dishes fell into one of three categories: scenes from classical antiquity, themes from the Old or New Testaments, or allegorical figures personifying vices and virtues. A similar basin with exactly this design at its centre is in the collection of the V & A dated to circa 1500 (Museum No. M.126-1937). Primarily used in conjunction with a ewer and basin for ablutions before meals (essential before the 17th century and the arrival of the fork for eating) these dishes were often used as alms dishes when imported into England. This example has a small crack at the rim, around 7 o'clock, and two small holes filled with rivets at the rim, 12 o'clock, very probably from where a suspension loop has been.