Lidded Ewer

Adam van Vianen (I), 1614
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

This elegantly wrought silver-gilt lidded ewer – measuring 25 cm high and weighing 910 grams – is perhaps the most iconic work of the so-called auricular style (in Dutch: kwab) that was fashionable in early seventeenth-century Dutch gold- and silversmith work. It is fitting that this masterpiece of kwab was made by one of the style’s major proponents – the silversmith Adam van Vianen – in memory of his younger brother Paulus, who is generally credited as the style’s inventor and who had died the previous year in Prague while in the service of Emperor Rudolf II. The ewer’s exceptional quality and originality is only matched by the unprecedented circumstances of its production: it was commissioned by the Amsterdam silversmiths’ guild from a non-member of the guild (Adam was based in Utrecht) for another non-member—a Dutch expatriate, if you will. The ewer’s singularity was immediately recognized by those in the circle of Pieter Lastman and his pupil Rembrandt, both of whom featured it in their paintings.

Yao-Fen You, Senior Curator and Head of the Product Design and Decorative Arts Department, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York

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From the multimediatour (1m14)

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KWAB: A revolutionary vaze

Podcast with Reinier Baarsen, Episode 1 (22m31)

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Adam van Vianen, Kan met deksel van verguld zilver, Utrecht, 1614

Article by Reinier Baarsen in the Rijksmuseum Bulletin 37(1989), p. 201-203

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