A pair of silver candlesticks

Tymen van Leeuwen (1652-1705), Utrecht, 1667

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A pair of silver candlesticks

A pair of large silver candlesticks, each on a circular, slightly convex foot supporting a stem that has a cuff of alternating convex and concave gadroons at its base. Each stem consists of six joined vertical tubes, that are tied together by two relief bands, the top band is placed directly below the sockets. The candlesticks have gadrooned drip-pans.

Charles II

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.

Banquet for Charles II, Anthony van Zijlvelt (attributed to), 1660, engraving, h 370 mm × w 499 mm, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, inv. no. RP-P-OB-77.717

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 T he 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 surmounting knob.

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. T he 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.

lottery print

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. T his 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.

Private Collection, The Netherlands

Tymen van Leeuwen (1652-1705), Utrecht, 1667

height 19,5 cm.

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