A finely engraved brandy bowl

Gerben Yskes (active in Sneek, 1675-1690), Sneek, 1682

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A finely engraved brandy bowl

Maker’s mark: GI = Gerben Yskes (active in Sneek, 1675-1690),  Town mark: three stapled crowns = Sneek,  Date letter: crowned K = Sneek, 1682

The octagonal bowl raised on waisted ribbed stem and conforming foot, decorated with fruit and cherubs, seven sides of the bowl engraved with the personifications of Fides (with baptismal basin and jug), Charitas (a mother breastfeeding and three little children) and Spes (with anchor) (Faith, Hope and Love) supplemented by the representation of the four cardinal virtues, i.e. Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance, the eighth panel engraved with a coat-of-arms with the Frisian half-eagle to left, a house mark to the right, and initials IS LD in a device, with scrolling acanthus leaves and two crossed spades above, all surrounded by lobed and scroll cartouches, to either side of the bowl a handle, cast and pierced with cherubs and scrolls.

This beautifully engraved brandy bowl is most probably manufactured by the silversmith Gerben Yskes. Little is known about him, other than that he became a pupil of the guild in 1662 and was received master in 1675. In 1690 his name was mentioned for the last time in the Guild registry at Sneek. He definitely worked until that year but probably continued his activities for a few more years. Recent resaerch of Frisian marks brought to light that the mark GI in oval may be given to Yskes, whereby the attribution is based on his initials, which, next to the town mark of Sneek and the respective date letters W (1693) and X (1694), can be found on a cream bowl and a brandy bowl.

The aforementioned brandy bowl, dated X (1694) is decorated with an engraved coat-of-arms, representing the well-known Frisian half-eagle, together with a pair of crossed archers and the inscribed name Jelle Herts Backer. In the marriage registry of the Reformed Church of Joure, Westmeer and Snikzwaag we find the mention of 27 February 1693, whereby Jelle Herts Backer of Sneek en Tryntie Alberts of Joure, depart to Sneek ‘with permission’.

A silver communion beaker owned by the Dutch town of Oudega, Idzega and Sandfirden is also attributed to Yskes. This beaker bearing an engraved inscription with date 1689, bears no further marks and was shown in Leeuwarden, in the exhibition Zilver, 1927, n° 173. Although this beaker, and consequently the mark struck in it, were known to Voet in 1932, he did not add an illustration thereof in his list. This may have been caused by the fact that no town mark was struck on the object so he could not attribute the maker’s mark to place of manufacture. Since today at least three pieces are known, that carry the maker’s mark GI as well as the town mark of Sneek, these can now be attributed to Gerben Yskes with more certainty.



Anonymous sale, Sotheby Mak van Waay, Amsterdam, 3 May 1999, lot 198;
Private collection, Switzerland;
Private collection, Belgium

Fine Silver, Sotheby Mak van Waay, Amsterdam, 3 may 1999, lot 198, p. 55 and ill.

Associated Literature
Nanne Ottema, M.W. Vieweg, D. Draaisma, Catalogus Tentoonstelling Antieke Goud- en Zilverwerken, Leeuwarden, 1927, n° 173, p. 37 (the 1689 communion beaker bearing the same maker’s mark);
Elias Voet Jr., Merken van Friese goud- en zilversmeden, Martinus Nijhoff, Den haag, 1974, p. 280, n° 638

Gerben Yskes (active in Sneek, 1675-1690), Sneek, 1682

19 cm wide,10,3 cm deep, 8,3 cm high

266 grams

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