A superb marriage casket
The front finely engraved with a cartouche containing the personification of Love, flanked on both sides by family…
A pair of large silver candlesticks, each on a circular, slightly convex foot with an even
rim supporting a stem that has a cuff of alternating convex and concave gadroons at its
base. Each stem consists of eight joined vertical tubes, that are tied together by three
relief bands, the top band is placed directly below the sockets. The candlesticks have
even circular drip-pans with flat borders.
Around 1660, this type of candlesticks was most fashionable. At the reception of
Charles II of England, held on 30 May 1660 in the Mauritshuis in The Hague,
numerous candlesticks of this model adorned the tables- a very modern decoration
at the time. Only the very best was good enough to celebrate the sovereign: the most
beautiful silver was on display, the walls were decorated with large silver wall-appliques
and on the tables were numerous candlesticks of the newest model.
The manufacture of this model, that discerns itself from other types of tubular
candlesticks by resting on a circular foot, is presumably limited to the Netherlands and
England. There are, however, three exceptions: as early as 1656-1657, a Parisian silversmith
made a pair which connoisseurs of French silver characterise as extremely rare.
Another pair was made in 1677 in Bergen (Mons), in Belgium and in 1690 in New
York the silversmith Cornelis Kierstede produced a single one.
The model was probably developed as a reaction to the flowing organic auricular
ornaments that dominated the decorative schemes in the first half of the seventeenth
century. While in 1649 Michiel de Bruyn van Berendrecht from Utrecht still combined
a diluted version of an auricular ornament in the circular foot with the more modern
tubular stem, in 1660-1662 silversmiths in Den Bosch (Johannes van der Laer) and in
The Hague (Gerardus de Bruyn, formerly known as Gilliam Bossche), returned to the
most sober form. The only decorations they used are the lobes in the foot and in the
To brighten a merry meal Gerardus de Bruyn, a magistrate from Leiden, ordered a set
of eight candlesticks. Currently, this set is in the collection of Museum the Lakenhal in
Leiden. In pewter and bronze the model is found in France. Delftware examples exist
as well, although these are dated slightly later. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has an
example that is dated to circa 1680 and that is embellished with a chinoiserie decoration
and pseudo-Chinese characters.
These candlesticks are often depicted on Dutch genre paintings of the third quarter
of the seventeenth century. Masters as Gerard ter Borch, Eglon van der Neer, Gabriël
Metsu, Samuel van Hoogstraten and Ludolf Bakhuysen all painted this specific model
with its characteristically wide circular foot. Often a candlestick is placed on a table.
Ter Borch, who depicted them the most, painted them as early as 1654. His half-sister
Gesina drew the candlestick in one of her sketchbooks. A trompe-l’oeil including such
a candlestick is painted by the still-life painter Fransiscus Norbertus Gijsbrechts.
The candlesticks were widely used: in affluent households as well as in church.
Nowadays these candlesticks are rare. As was often the fate of silver objects, most
examples were melted down when fashion and taste changed.
The objects on the well-known lottery print by Durgerdam attest to the popularity of
this model. A similar pair of candlesticks is placed at the centre of the print.
This print promotes a lottery that was organised to raise funds for the unfortunate
village of Durgerdam, located at the border of the river ‘t IJ near Amsterdam and the
Zuiderzee. Almost the entire village, which consisted of mostly wooden houses, was
destroyed by a large fire during the first days of May in 1687. This print is useful
because it not only informs us about the various silver prizes, but the maker’s fee is
noted as well. The print discloses that the comparable set of candlesticks was the fifth
prize and had a value of 100 guilders.
Bergen op Zoom
This pair of candlesticks is made by Adriaan Corn. Frey in Bergen op Zoom where
he was a master silversmith from 1656 until 1707. It was, however, not his place of
birth. He was probably born in Heerenveen between 1623 and 1633. When he married
Elizabeth Davids Doré in 1656 he was listed as a soldier serving the Lord of Odijck. In
October of the same year he is mentioned as a silversmith. His Frisian roots stem from
his father Cornelis Fransen van Ferny (1601 – Bergen op Zoom – ca. 1656) who, as a
member of a Frisian regiment led by colonel Jacques van Oenema, left for Heerenveen
in 1622. Here he became a master silversmith to return to Bergen op Zoom in 1633,
where soon he held various chairs, amongst others with the guild of gold- and silversmiths.
Adriaan takes his father lead, both as a silversmith and as a governor. Besides
serving as the deacon of the guild for many years, his name is noted down in notaries’
documents citing his participation in various other activities.
Already in the fourteenth century Bergen op Zoom, conveniently located by the river
Schelde near the important city of Antwerp, was a city where the craft of silversmithing
thrived. As early as 1343 a street was named after these businesses, the Silversmidsstrate.
Two important yearly markets, the Easter market and the Winter market,
attracted many merchants from other towns. In 1517 Jean de Marnix, treasurer of the
governess of Brussels, spent a large amount of money on silver- he ordered around
twenty large beakers and two ewers and basins (for refreshing one’s hands during
dinner). From 1489 onwards the silver from Bergen op Zoom had to be marked with
the town mark. At first, the town mark of Breda was used and only in the sixteenth
century the three small mountains for Bergen op Zoom were added.
In 1520 already sixteen silversmiths worked in Bergen op Zoom on a population of
7000 people. These numbers illustrate the importance of the yearly markets. The silversmiths
had all the reasons to start their own guild, and they did so thirty years before
their colleagues in Breda. Because of the surrender of Antwerp after the siege by the
Spanish army, many protestant merchants and craftsmen fled to Bergen op Zoom.
Last year, the exhibition on silver from Bergen op Zoom and the accompanying
publication of the results of years of research, paid tribute to the craftsmanship of the
silversmiths of this city since the sixteenth century.
Private collection, the Netherlands
Jean-Pierre van Rijen, Cees Vanwesenbeeck, Zilver in en rond
Bergen op Zoom, Bergen op Zoom 2017,
'Voorbij ijdelheid. Zes eeuwen zilver in en rond Bergen op Zoom', De Markiezenhof, Bergen op Zoom 2017, no. 19
Adriaan Cornelis Ferney, Bergen op Zoom, 1667-1668
height 23 cm