BEELDENKAST, CARVED OAK, DATED 1650

This kind of richly-ornamented cupboard, whose decorations admonished to a life of virtue, was frequently made as a dowry piece or wedding present, representing the most important piece of furniture owned by young newlyweds. As a rule, houses in the first half of the seventeenth century were still very small; the obvious place for such a large cupboard was the voorhuis, the large room into which the house was entered from the street, and which was also the place where the occupant usually conducted his business. Positioned there, a beeldenkast sent out a direct message about the affluence of the house’s occupants, their taste and their preference for the rules of classic architecture, as well as their adherence to high morals. However, it seems unlikely that a married couple is indicated by the coats-of-arms of the two cities of Amsterdam and Hoorn. A more plausible explanation is that the cupboard was made for a government institution or some other organization connecting both cities. It is worth mentioning that Hoorn occupies a special place within the history of the Dutch beeldenkast. The only known example that was made as part of a fixed wall panelling was originally in the Sint Pietershof in that city, a former monastery that was turned into living quarters in 1617; that cupboard is now in the Westfries Museum in Hoorn. It may therefore be assumed that cupboards of this type were made in Hoorn, whereas Amsterdam was also an important centre of their production. What is remarkable about the cupboard is that it bears the date of 1650: an extremely rare occurrence. The earliest dated example, from 1622, is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Clearly, by 1650 the specific form of a beeldenkast had already been made over a protracted period of time. While the basic form remained unchanged, the cupboard from 1650 shows several innovative features. The carving on the frieze does not form a decorative pattern but shows a continuous representation of marine creatures – quite appropriate for the sea port of Hoorn. There is a cupboard in the Rijksmuseum which has a similar frieze with representations of ships at sea, fish and so on. Taking the place of ‘statues’ on that cupboard, which is dated 1659, there are plain half-columns with festoons in the style of the Amsterdam Town Hall, built between 1648 and 1655 to a design by the famous classical architect, Jacob van Campen. The festoons on the bottom drawers of the cupboard made in 1650 are already display this style, as do the brackets carved with acanthus leaves that support its top. Moreover, the same cupboard also shows unmistakable elements of the so-called ‘kwabstijl’, an exuberant, fantastical decorative idiom that was developed by the famous Dutch silversmiths, the brothers Adam and Paulus van Vianen. Auricular motifs are seldom found on carved oak furniture. The most eye-catching examples on the cupboard of 1650 are the cartouches framing the coats-of-arms on the doors. In this way the cupboard represents a kind of sample book of decorative trends in the first half of the seventeenth century: the makers have used all their ‘tricks of the trade’ to produce an exceptional showpiece.

FURNITURE IN THE GOLDEN AGE.

Introduction.

Nearly everybody has a notion of what the interior of a Dutch seventeenth century house looked like. There is no other historic period that has left behind such a vivid sence of what we would encounter upon entering a well appointed home of the time. This sence is based first and foremost on the many paintings in which men, women and children are depicted in an interior, directly and intimately observed and surrounded by their furniture and other possessions.

19th and 20th centuries

In the late 19th and 20th centuries these pictures have been the inspiration behind many historic interiors But how realistic are those seventeenth century paintings? The rooms themselves depart in many ways from what can be gleaned about Dutch 17th-century interiors from other sources, such as written descriptions als listings in probate inventories. Some things are over-represented: for instance, marble floors and brass chandeliers were less common than these paintings suggest.

These artists like to include such features as they allowed them to display their skills in depicting perspective, the effects of light and beautiful materials. Skills that were highly appreciated by the connoisseurs and collectors of their work. In other respects, these impression conveyed by the majority of these pictures is too plain. For example, they show little of the abundance of Chinese porcelain, Japanese lacquer and other exotic works of art what was to be found in many well-appointed interiors.

Probate inventories which are often describe the contents of a house room by room, indicate that many interiors were quite crowded with furniture ans seemingly arranged in rather a haphazard
fashion. Moreover, these inventories often mention types of furniture that occur on rarely in paintings, such as linen presses, or layette cupboards.

There is a small group of exceptional works of art that does present a unique opportunity to inspect authentic, virtually unchanged rooms from the 17th century: the doll houses that were assembled in the last quarter of the seventeeth century by wealthy women in Amstedrdam.
Ladies were interested in all aspects of the interior, but they may nonetheless have concentrated their energies of the furnishings of rooms with textiles and luxurious comfortabkle or practical items

Their husbands were perhaps more concerned with the architectural of the house, both outside and in. Much Dutch 17th-century furniture-such as massive cupboards or study tables- has an architectural, masculine feel, suggesting it was close linked to the building of the house.
It was designed and made by men and, when purchased by a couple, furniture-like everything else- was paid for by the man, as he was in charge of finances. As a result, manuscript and printed sources that provide information on furniture production reinforce the inpression that it was a masculine affair. In reallity, however, women will often have made their voices heard to decisive effect.

Dutch Delftware

Delft faïence is among the greatest Dutch achievements of the 17th and 18th centuries. Over the last hundred and fifty years a great many private individuals and museums, in the Netherlands and beyond, have amassed collections of Delftware. It is almost self-evident that the most important collection of this ‘National Product’ should be in the Netherlands, particularly in the Rijksmuseum, the Municipal Museum in The Hague and in many other places.

Was around 1850 the interest in Delftware effectively vanished in The Netherlands, the exhibition organised in Delft in 1863 attracteda great deal of attention and this, coupled with a growing interest in the past, opened the eyes of a new group of buyers.

Since then Delftware has been widely collected and the subject of serious study.

The Republic of the United Provinces, as the Netherlands was officially known, was unquestionably a phenomenon amidst all the monarchies in Europe.
Not only because it was a state without a king, but also because in the second half of the seventeenth century the Netherlands was an economic and political force to be reckon with.
A small country but a major power.

Thank to the amassed wealth and economic advantage that the Netherlands had over the other countries of Europe, the average per capita income was to remain the highest in Europe for a very lond time to come.

The difference between rich and poor was also much smaller in The Netherlands than it was elsewhere. In consequence there was a very large well to do middle-class that could afford all sorts of luxuries, a unique phenomenon in Europe. Sets of dishes decorated with a loving couple accompanied by the figure of Cupid, must have been very popular as an element of interior decorating in the 1650s.

A set like this would have been displayed at the top of a high wainscot or on a the shelf at the end of a graet oak bed.
The saggers in which the pieces were fired varied in size; the largest was about fifty centimetres in diameter, which is why dishes and plates made in delft are sendom more than forty-eight centimetres across.
Among the exceptional pieces dating from around 1650-1660, is a massive charger, decorated with a couple, a cupid and a monkey eating an apple. It symbolize the sense of taste.
This would lead us to suppose that dishes like this one were probably sold in sets of five.
This large dish is an exception and was consequently not fired in a standard saggar.

This dish shows at the back, written in black ink, and inscription: C.E. Jedelo, a gold- and siversmith at the Wijnhaven in Delft, and also dealt in antiques. Het participated inter alia in the Exhibition of Antiques and Curiosities of the Province of South Holland , held in Delft in 1863.
This was a landmark exibition in the Netherlands at the time.. No less than four thousand pieces were on display.

Delftware WITH CHINOISERIE DECORATION

In 1602, the Dutch East India Company started to bring Chinese porcelain to the Netherlands

In 1644 a war broke out in China which, although it was far away, had far-reaching implications for the import of Chinese porcelain into the Netherlands and for Dutch earthenware manufacture.
The was started when the Manchus, a people that lived to the north of China, succeeded in capturing the country from the Ming dynasty. The made Beijing their capital, but had great difficulty establishing their authority in the Southern Chinese coastal provinces.
The was was disastrous for the manufacture and export of porcelain.
Between 1644 and 1657 the volume of imports into the Netherlands fell from more then 200.000 to a mere 15000 pieces a year. In 1657 marked the start of a total standstill of official exports of Chinese porcelain to the Netherlands that was to continue for thirty years.

Porcelain had been made on a small scale in Japan since the early seventeenth century. The Dutch East India Company tried to make good the lost trade by importing Japanse porcelain painted in the Chinese style. The first porcelain exports from Japan were recorded in 1653. It was not until 1660 though, that exports to Europe rose to any sort of significant level. In 1661 11500 pieces of Japanese porcelain were imported into the Netherlands.

There are no known objects from the period up to about 1680 that bear a factory mark or the signature of an owner-potter or shopkeeper ( the manager of a pottery who had passed the tests required for guild membership) one of twenty-five or so companies operating in Delft during this prosperous era.

CREATIVITY OF THE DUTCH SILVERSMITH.

Peace finally concluded, after eighty years of war with Spain the Republic accorded full recognition abroad as an independent state.

The grim struggle of the fewer thans about less than one million inhabitants of the delta area on the North Sea again

This is all more remarkable that  was precisely during that dogged war that  this Republic developed not only into a powerful and prosperous trading nation, but also, and this is what we are concerned within the present context, into a cultural power the like of which was scarcely known elsewhere. All branches of art came to great fruition here. The is no question of a decline. The standard of its artistic products was maintained, both as regards, quantity and quality and also in respect of of originality.

It is true that the architects, the sculptors and those working in the applied arts were subject to influences from abroad, but they managed to assimilate the into something that was entirely their own, a characteristically Dutch art. Nor was that specific character lost even during the lengthy period of French domination from 1795 to 1813, which put an end to the still relatively young Republic During this period too the Dutch artist remained completely himself.

Each region had its own character, which also found expression in the silversmithing practised there. The fact that among those Provinces the region of Holland was by far the most influential explains why Holland has continued, most erroneously, to be identified with the Netherlands right up to the present day.

SILVER OBJECTS COULD EASILY BE CONVERTED INTO M O N E Y.

Silver was estimated according to the weight, and to this were added the cost of making it and possible extra charges for such things as engraving, but these costs were always much less than that of the silver as material.

Only during the 19th century was this link between silver and money gradually lost. One finds a similar situation today in the case of diamonds, which are bought partly because of their beauty, but also as an investment.

It can be said that there was no actually much difference between silver coins and silver objects; the value of both was determined by their weight and both could easily be converted into money.

It is not surprising that in the wealthy Netherlands of the 17th and 18th Centuries an enormous quantity of often very large silver objects were made; apart from their beauty they displayed, just as clearly as a bag of money, the financial strength of their possessor.

ASIA-AMSTERDAM

Chinese porcelain was known in the Netherlands, since the end of the sixteenth century.It was much admired for its technical perfection, compared to the local products, its hardness, light weight, and fine sound, while exotic decorations appealed to the imagination. It is easy to understand how porcelain soon attracted a wide array of buyers when prices suddenly fell.

Much of the porcelain being important was not of a particularly high quality because of the VOC’s emphasis on keeping prices low. Studies of seventeenth century trash pits give a good impression of the wide range in the quality.  But the VOC and private Dutch traders were also able to import exclusive items of superior quality. Large dishes are among the most expensive items in inventories, even in the second half of the century.

The Dutch were proud of owning large quantities of porcelain dishes and bowls, and felt the need to display their porcelain as a decorative element in their homes. The tops of freestanding cupboards and cabinets were popular spots for large bowls and jars. Later in the seventeenth century, these surfaces were used to display groups of similar shaped, decorated jugs with lids and vases, known as garniture sets. The Dutch term for such sets , kaststel, literally means “cupboard set “

The composition changed dramatically after the French interior architect Daniël Marot arrived at the court of the Stadtholder William III and his wife Mary Stuart. In Marot’s designs, porcelain became one component in the overall decorative scheme for the interior. 

Bandwork decoration with volutes filling a section on the wall determined the location of consoles intended for porcelain..

Although it was not possible to focus on a particular, exceptional object in such a scheme, that was not the priority anyway. The late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries were the heyday of miniature porcelain, so-called “poppengoed” when Dutch interiors were flooded with very small vases and jars and bowls.

DECORATIVE PAINTINGS AND WATERCOULORS. 18 th CENTURY

In Britain, and France wall-coverings with painted landscapes were uncommon. In German speaking areas ( Germany, Switzerland and Austria) and in nearby Belgium this type of wall- covering only came into use in the first quarter of the eighteenth century. The long tradition and its use throughout Holland as well as the quality of the paintings makes this phenomen of Dutch wall coverings quite exceptional in the history of European decorating.

This paintings were fashionable in reception rooms and especially in the main hall of the Dutch houses The paintings were generally used above a wainscoating, often divided into several framed compartments. In the case of paintings designed for above doors or chimney-pieces, scenes other than landscapes were chosen. This is simply, because, if the artist had tried to be true to nature, he would only have been able to depict clouds or perhaps the top of a tree or a mountain, which would not have been desirable. Therefore subjects with practically no depth were preferred in these places., like a flower piece, a still life or perhaps a painted sculptured relief, the so called ‘grisaille’ In the Netherlands the latter was also names ‘Witjes’ after the great master in this style, Jacob de Wit. Typical subjects for these  monochrome paintings, for example the allegorising putti, were also painted in bright colours, not only by De Wit, but also by his followers. In spite of the popularity of the earlier grisaille throughout the eighteenth century, a variation of this style appeared around 1780 as the result of a renewed interest in the Antique. These images, still imitations of reliefs, were now placed agains a dark, often a black background, some of the best Dutch artists of the time took over this new fashion, such as Jurriaan Andreissen or Johannes van Dreght in Amsterdam, Dirk van der Aa in The Hague and Abraham van Strij in Dordrecht.

Text compilation:  Dr. Richard Harmanni.)

DRAWINGS AND WATERCOLOURS.

The origin of our desire to visually communicate our observations of the world that we inhabit, and to render using line and tone our shared experience and the flights of our imagination, has been lost in time. But the primordial urgo to draw – manifest on the walls of caves, in Egyptian papyri and on pottery from the ancient world – would, no later than the early Renaissance, come to be regarded as the foundation of all Western art.

The use of drawing as a tool- to train and exercise the eye and hand, to study nature and the human body, and to facilitate the invention of expressive and dynamic compositions – endows the medium with an unselfconscious intimacy that accounts, in part, for the extraordinary appeal of sketches and studies of all kinds and every period. There is no other medium in which the eye, hand, and imagination of the artist are so inextricably linked, and arguably no more immediate refections of artistic genius. These attributes of drawings would eventually lead to such widespread admiration for original works on paper that, from the 17th and 18th centuries onward, many were conceived as independant works of art, intended from the outset for the delectation of collectors.

The variety of artists’drawings is astonishing.

PORCELAIN

The huge quantities of porcelain that were imported into Europe in the first half of the 17th century, mostly Chinese blue and white or white wares, ensured the onset of ‘china mania.’ that stimulated to display of the rsults of this’ mania’in massed array in rooms of great houses all over Europe.

Daniel Defoe in the late 17th century blames Queen Mary for introducing into England the custom of furnishing houses with chinaware, piling the china upon the top of cabinets, scritoires and every chimney piece.
This may be true that Queen Mary brought the taste to its full fruition in England.
But it had its origins both on the continent and in England long before this time.

Such was the rapid increase in quantity of this most fashionable decorative accessory, porcelain in the 17th century that we can trace its progression in European houses.

First out of the ‘cabinets of curiosities’ on the table and then from the table onto the walls.

This reached its extreme limits in the late 17thand early 18th centuries in ‘porcelain rooms. ‘
where the walls were dressed in massed Chinese – and Japanese porcelain.

Early in the 18th century this perhaps excessive display of porcelain tended to be reduced, some in hands of certain fanatical collectors such as August the Strong in Dresden.

By the mid 18th century porcelain, still as fashionable as ever, was perhaps not so visible, the glass-fronted cabinet, the china cabinet, itself sometimes of pseudo-oriental aspect, continued the pieces that had formely stood on the lacquer cabinets, uopn brackets on the walls or on and over chimney pieces.

Conversation-piece-paintings of English families show oriental porcelain in use on the tea table or displayed discreetly about the rooms.

We have come back to the conditions visible in the Dutch still life painting of the mid 17th century where porcelain was an attraction, but never dominant part of the scheme of decoration.

The effects of Chinese and Japanese porcelain in Europe was such, that elements of oriental styles became firmly incorporated into the European repertoire.

The demand for porcelain can be verified by considering the styles of porcelain most imitated and adapted by new porcelain factories in Europe.

Many wares were later fitted in Europe with mounts of silver or gilt bronze, often to adapt them to elaborate decorative schemes.The Delftware pottery of Holland for instance, now briefly followed the Oriental style.

A DUTCH MID 18th. C LONGCASE CLOCK with SHIP AUTOMATON

Fine engraved silvered chapter ring with foliate pierced border, and foliate pierced hands.
Subsidary seconds and apertures for date, day, month and moonphase.
Polychrome painted theatrical opening below flanked by deites showing the ship automaton
With connection to the going train of the anchor movement with trip repeating rack Dutch quarter strinking on alternating bells.
Exceptional good walnut veneered case, the bell top hood surmounted by a gilt wood Atlas
(Indeed a very Dutch popular feature on 18th Century clocks, as a symbol of power, might, and successful in trading and merchantship over many parts of the world especcilally concerning the sea ( VOC and so on.) and two angels throuhout adorned with extremely rare well engraved pierced brass frets, showing flowers, scrolls and personifications at both sides of the upper part op these clock.
They are representing the five Senses inspired of a compilation of angravings by Bérain and even more by Daniël Marot.

Arched glazed door flanked by engraved brass capped pilasters, representing the Seven Dutch
Provinces, the canted corners of the trunk adorned with carving, long shaped door with
Chequered inlaid banding and a Chronos Lenticle, moulded double bombé base with further
Chequered inlay, moulded plinth with further carving raised on claw feet.

The first owner of this clock must have been a dog lover as well because there is a dog’s head seen in the carved rocaille in the upper part of the domed bases of the clock.
It is very well know that the shipowners specialised in hunting an shooting in Greenland on
Whale’s were all wealthy and prosperous, and lived in beautilul canal houses in Amsterdam.

Clocks whith whaling ships automaton mechanism are always popular, but
This clock is much better in qualily of the movement, and case, and especially all the finely engraved features, as well as the theatrical paiting under the silvered chapter ring, than usual.
The three carved and gilt limewood figures are all original, but the gilding is of recent date.

The mechanism and movement are well taken care after, and in full function.
It is planned to show this clock again of the Tefaf Fair in Maastricht in march 2014.

Salomon Stodel Antiquaires, declares this clock genuine antique and original and made in the
Time indicated above.

Maker: Joh. Elias.

Ca. 1750.

Height: 299 cm inclusive Atlas.

Burr walnut veneered on oak.