Posts Tagged ‘Dutch’

Diamond Engraved Dutch Roemer Glasses of the 17th Century

June 29, 2011 5 comments

In my post The Dutch Wine Glasses of Pieter Claesz I analyzed the Roemer, Berkemeyer, and Venetian flutes painted by Pieter Claesz.  What these paintings do not illustrate is the sheer beauty of a diamond engraved Roemer glasses.  Diamond tip engraving flourished as an art form in the later 16th century thoughout Germany, Venice, and Austria. It was popular in the Netherlands during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was during this period that Anna Roemers Visscher (1584-1651) produced work that is considered some of the most exquisite.  I have selected a variety of glasses that illustrate poems, insects, flowers, portraits, a map, and coats of arms.  I encourage you to take your time by zooming into each image.  They are truly beautiful!

Note, I am not a Dutch wine glass scholar so I have simply reproduced the accompanying descriptions.

Roemer, Anna Roemers Visscher, 1619, Rijksmuseum

“Constantijn Huygens wrote an ode to Anna Roemers’s skill as an engraver titled: ‘To the diamond-tipped pen of Miss Anna Roemers’. Anna’s answer to Huygens was this römer, accompanied by a poem: Dry is my pen, Dull is my paper / Rusty are my senses, Spoiled is my lyre / Go blessed Poet, Go to the tops of Helicon, and fetch water, to drop / Onto my dry ink, So that I (as I am want to) / Can greet my friends with a normal pen.” Description from Rijksmuseum.

Roemer, Anna Roemers Visscher, 1621, Rijksmuseum

“Mysterious poem In addition to the illustrations Anna also inscribed an Italian text onto the glass: ‘Bella DORI gentil, Noi vaghi fiori, Da te prendiam gli honori’. It means, ‘Gentle, beautiful Doris, we, lovely flowers, derive from you the honour of our name.'” Description from Rijksmuseum.

Roemer, early 17th century, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

“The engraving was based on a famous map of the Rhine by the mathematician and cartographer Caspar Vopel, which was published in Cologne in i Sg. On the Roemert,h e river’s course from Mainz to Utrecht is shown, with its many tributaries and branches and the adjacent lands, cities, and physical features.” Description from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Roemer, M. Tesselschade Roesmers Visscher, 2nd quarter 17th C., Rijksmuseum

“The Latin text “Sic Soleo AmicosSic Soleo Amicos.” The 17th-century poet Jacob Westerbaen adopted the motto `Sic Soleo Amicos’ from the Roman author Terence (Publius Terentius Afer), and used it in 1624 as the title of a satirical poem., means, roughly translated, ‘this is how I treat my friends’.” Description from Rijksmuseum.

Roemer, c. 1650, Victoria and Albert Museum

“Engraved with vines and dancing peasants and a bagpipe player, seated on a barrel.” Description from The Victoria and Albert Museum.

Roemer, c. 1650, The British Musem

“The inscription on this glass reads ‘Noch Leeft Orange’ (‘Still lives Orange’). The engraving almost certainly depicts William II, Prince of Orange (1626-50), who married Mary, Princess Royal of England.” Description from The British Museum.

Roemer, G.V. Nes, 1657, Victoria and Albert Museum

“Engraved with the Arms of William of Orange and the Seven Provinces of the Netherlands. Signed ‘G.V. Nes 1657’.” Description from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Roemer, 1689, Private Collection of Wilfred Buckley

“Roemer (two views), engraved with arms of William III and Mary on the occasion of their coronation as King and Queen of England, 1689.” Description from Wilfred Buckley, “A Series of Dutch Historical Glasses”, 1929.

Roemer, Willem Mooleyser, 1689, Victoria and Albert Museum

“A roemer an even larger Roemer with the arms of William III; the Dutch Republic; The Dutch Admiralty; Holland; Schiedam and the Van der Goes family and monogramme. Signed ‘W. M.’, dated ‘4m. 19dach 1689’ (19th April 1689) and inscribed ‘T’Welvaren Vant Lieve Vaderlandt 1689’ and ‘Concordia Res Parvae crescunt’ (Unity makes the weak powerful)” Description from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Dutch Wine Glasses of Pieter Claesz

For this post I decided to take a closer look at the wine glasses painted by Pieter Claesz.  I have extracted 25 wine glasses from 21 different paintings.  These paintings span a 30 year period from 1623 to 1653.  I picked paintings from images that had reasonable resolution.   I have rotated any wine glasses that were shown on their side or turned over.  For this post I am analyzing the glasses outside the context of the painting.  In subsequent posts wine glasses from other Dutch, Flemish, and German painters will be analyzed and compared against actual glasses in museum collections.

Self Portrait from Vanitas Still Life with Violin and Glass Ball, Pieter Claesz, 1628, Germanische Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg

Pieter Claesz (1597/87 – 1660) was born in Berchem, which is a village near Antwerp.  He was married in 1617 then moved to Haarlem around 1621.  He lived here his entire life.  He became renowned for his table-top pieces. He was a prolific painter who died in 1660.

Haarlem, Peter Wils,1646, Harlem, Historisch Museum Zuid Kennermerland

Haarlem is both a municipality and a city.  Lying 12 miles  west of Amsterdam it is the capital of North Holland.  It is an old city first mentioned in the 10th century.  There is a long history of development and destruction both by siege and fire.  After the Spanish left in 1577 the city council attracted workers for the traditional trades of brewing and bleaching.  It also promoted the arts and history and showed religious tolerance.  The population grew from 18,000 in 1573 to 40,000 in 1621.  In 1632 the first tow canal, Haarlemmertrekvaart (Harlem’s Tow-Canal) was opened between Haarlem and Amsterdam.  This canal was solely for passenger traffic and no commercial freight was allowed.  The city became renowned for its linen and silk and in the 1630s it became a major trading center for tulips.

There are three types of wine glasses featured in Pieter Claesz’s paintings: the popular Roemer, the squat Berkemeyer, and the tall flute. 

Roemer, 1644, Rijksmuseum

A Römer or Roemer is a type of wine glass made from green waldglas (forest glass).  The name stems from the Latin Roma for Rome.  A common Roman glass was barrel shape with prunts (molten blobs of glass) applied to the surface.  The use of the prunts originally indicated the type of wine the glass contained.  Eventually the prunts lost their meaning and became purely decorative or functional.  The Franks made glasses using forest potash and sand with impurities.  This green colored glass became known as Waldglas.  A Roemer glass features a round bowl, a hollow stem with prunts, and a foot.  The prunts were often stamped with fireproof clay or a metal form to impart a pattern.  The foot was made from a single thread of glass spun around a wooden form.  The prunts provided grip for greasy hands.

Berkemeyer, Anna roemers Visscher, 1646, Rijksmuseum

A Berkemeyer is a wine glass with wide conical bowl and a thick, hollow stem.  These also appear to be made from waldglas.  It is similar to a Roemer but has a different bowl, smaller foot, and is shorter.  Berkemeyers were originally wooden beakers with lids carved from a berkemei (branch of a birch tree).

Flute, Willem Mooleyser, 1680, Rijksmuseum

The flute is a tall, thin wine glass.  The bowl is conical with a small, hollow stem, and a flat foot.  The glass is typically colorless and made in the Netherlands.  The glass was made in the same manner as the Venetian glass.

In my gallery of 25 wine glasses there are sixteen Roemers, six Berkemeyers, and three flutes.

The sixteen Roemer glasses were painted between 1624 and 1653.  Twelve of the glasses are halfway full of wine and four are empty.  The filled glasses contain white wine poured to the level of the widest part of the bowl.  Of the empty glasses, three are standing and one is on its side.  The bowls from 1624 and two from 1628 are more oval in shape than spherical.  The two bowls from 1627 and those from 1630 and later are spherical and are almost the exact same shape.  Where the bowl meets the stem only the glasses from 1642 and later, along with the undated “Still Life with With Glass and Silver Bowl” Staatliche Museen have a beaded ring.  All other glasses have a smooth ring.  All of the prunts, except for 1624 and 1653, area applied blobs of glass.  The prunts from 1624 and 1653 are the only raspberry stamped prunts.  The longer stems allow for more prunts.  All of the glasses feature more irregularly patterned prunt locations.

The six Berkemeyers glasses were painted in 1624, 1625, 1630, 1639, and 1642.  I cannot make out the date in the image for the remaining glass.  Of these glasses only two are filled with wine and four are empty.  The two filled glasses are at least half-way full of white wine.  Of the remaining four glasses, one is standing up, two are on their sides, and one is upside down.  All glasses feature a smooth ring where the bowl meets the stem.  All of these glasses feature alternating columns of two prunts.  Five of the glasses feature prunts that are just applied blobs of glass.  The more recent glass from 1642 features raspberry stamped prunts.

The three different flutes were painted in 1623, 1625, and 1653.   Each flute holds at least half a glass of  light red or rose color wine. The earliest flute is short with a medium width bowl and a very elaborate stem containing much application.  The second flute is short with a wide bowl and a proportionately long stem.  The third flute is the tallest with the narrowest bowl and a stem that is similar to the first but without the applications.

At this point it is hard to draw any conclusions from this small sample of moderate resolution images.  The Dutch loved their sweet, German white wine.  With Rotterdam lying at the mouth of the Rhine there was ample trade alone the Rhine valley.  Perhaps they followed tradition and served their white German wine in Roemer glasses.  Perhaps the red Italian wine was served in the Venetian-styled flute.

Wine Related Dutch Paintings of the 17th Century

The Dutch loved paintings.  The 17th century was an age where paintings were not solely the possession of the wealthy.  Many different types of people could afford paintings and as a result a wide variety of genres were painted.  The paintings featured in this post all contain wine related items or people.

Autumn, David Teniers de Younger, 1644, The National Gallery

David Teniers (1610-1690) was a painter of peasant life.  This painting is part of the group, The Four Seasons.  Is shows a drinker raising a glass of wine.

Four Officers of the Amsterdam Cooper's and Wine Racker's Guild, Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, 1657, The National Gallery, London

This painting is by Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (1621-1674) who was a student of Rembrandt. The painting shows the officers of the guild that made the wine barrels for wine imported into Amsterdam and who also tasted the wine. The painting is of Saint Matthias who is the patron saint of the coopers. There are cooper’s tools on the table.

The Warens Of The Guild Of Coopers And Wine Tasters, Gerbrandvan den Eeckhout, 1673, Amsterdams Historisch Museum

This painting is of the same subject but from 15 years later.  The painting shows the officers of the Cooper’s and Wine taster’s guild.  This type of painting showing the officers of a guild were very popular.

The Glass Of Wine, Johannes Vermeer, 1658-1660, Gemaldegalerie Berlin

Johannes Vermeer (1632 – 1675) is considered one of the greatest Dutch painters.  This painting shows a well-dressed man watching a woman finish her glass of wine.  He has his hand on the wine pitcher, as if ready to fill her glass.  On the chair is a musical instrument called a chitarrone.  The couple are quite formal in expression.

The Wine Glass, Johannes Vermeer, 1659-1660, Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum

This painting shows a well-dressed man supporting the woman’s hand which contains a half-full glass of wine.  He is intensely watching her face.  She has her head turned towards the viewer and is smiling.  The man in the background is brooding with a pitcher of wine and peeled citrus fruit.  It is the same pitcher as in the previous painting.

The Dancing Couple, Jan Steen, 1663, The National Gallery of Art

Jan Steen (1625/1626-1679) was the son of a brewer and grain merchant.  He married Margaretha van Goyen in 1654.  They moved to Haarlem in 1661 where he produced many painting including this one.  His wife died in 1669 and one year later he moved to Leiden after inheriting his father’s house.  In 1672 he received a license to open an inn.  He often included his self-portrait.  This painting shows a group celebrating at a tavern.  In the center are a young couple, a finely dressed girl and a country boy.  Jan Steen is seen tickling his wife at the very left of the banquet table.  According to the National Gallery of Art’s “Dutch Painting” instructional book, the empty wine barrel in the foreground symbolizes the saying “A full barrel does not resound.”  A wise person acts in a respectable manner where as the words of the ignorant echo hollowly in the air.

Merry Family, Jan Steen, 1668, Rijksmuseum

This painting shows a large family of grandmother, parents, and children around a table.  The grandmother and mother are singing, two sons are smoking a pipe, another son and daughter are playing music, the father has just stopped playing music and is raising his glass of wine, while the young children standing are drinking wine.  This painting has a moral admonishment written on a piece of paper pinned to the mantelpiece.  According to the Rijksmuseum it reads d’Oude Songen, Soo Pypen de Jonge “As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young.”  In other words the children will follow their parent’s bad behaviors.

The Drinker, Jan Steen, 1660, Hermitage

This painting is a self portrait of Jan Steen and his wife Margaretha.  He frequently included his self-portrait and which tend to show a bit of self-humor.  He was credited with a like for drink but perhaps this is simply due to his running an inn.

Breakfast Still Life with Glass Blackberry Pie, Willem Claesz,1631, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

Willem Claesz. Heda (1594c – 1680) was a master at reflections.  This painting shows a partially eaten blackberry pie on a tablecloth pushed to the side, an empty, broken wine glass rests on a plate with a slice of pie, nuts, a glass of wine, perhaps a glass of beer, a tipped over chalice, and a clock.

Still Life with Cheeses, Floris Claesz Van Dijck, 1610, Private Collection

Floris van Dijck (1575 – 1651) was a painter acclaimed for his natural depictions.  This painting shows a fancy table with a damask tablecloth.  On top are piles of cheeses, fruits , olives, nuts, grapes, bread, a several different types of wine glasses, different types of pitches, crumbs, and a half of an apple with a peel.  This type of breakfast painting is known as ontbijtgen.

Still Life With Silver Brandy Bowl Wine Glass Herring Bread, Pieter Claesz, 1642, Museum Fine Arts, Boston

Pieter Claesz (1596/1597-1600) is considered one of the most important Dutch still-life painter.  This painting shows a filled glass of wine, a knife, a partially eaten walnut, a herring, silver brandy bowl, and a partially eat piee of bread.  There are crumbs on the table and the table cloth is askew.

Lemon Oranges And Glass of Wine, Willem Kalf, 1663-1664, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe

Willem Kalf (1619-1693) worked in Paris before settling down in Amsterdam.  He painted rustic interiors and farm yard scenes before moving to pronkstillevenPronk means “ostentation” and these ostentatious paintings became popular in the 1650s.   This painting is centered around a glass of wine and shows three oranges and a lemon.  The sweet and sour fruits suggest that the view remain temperate.  The partially peeled orange suggest that one add orange and lemon juice to the wine for medicinal purposes.

Still Life With Burning Candle, Pieter Claesz, 1627, Mauritshuis, The Hauge

This painting shows a burning candle, snuffer, a glass of wine, several books, one of which is open, and a pair of spectacles.  Claesz developed the dark, monochrome banketjes or table top still life.

Vanitas Still Life With The Spinario, Pieter Claesz, 1628, Rijksmuseum

“This painting looks like a combination of several smaller still lifes. In the foreground, to the right, are a number of musical instruments. They are lying beside a piece of armour and various books. More books are shown on the table, along with a plaster statue, some bones, a skull and various artist’s materials. From the skull and bones, it is clear that this painting is about transience, or vanitas.The watch and the fading oil lamp refer to the passage of time, while the musical instruments symbolise the ephemeral nature of music.

Vanitas is related to the word vanity and to transience. The term refers to the opening verse of Ecclesiastes in the Latin Bible ‘Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas’: vanity of vanities, all is vanity. Seventeenth-century Dutch paintings often feature symbols of transience, especially still lifes. Skulls, hourglasses, extinguished candles and similar elements refer to the evanescence of existence. Vanitas paintings are intended to remind the viewer of how short life is and that it should be lived with due regard to God’s laws.”  Source: Vanitas still life, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

Still Life With A Skill and A Writing Quill, Pieter Claesz, 1628, Metropolitan Museum Of Art

“This is one of the earliest dated still lifes by Claesz., a Haarlem painter who gave extraordinary presence to familiar things. Here a skull, an overturned glass roemer with its fleeting reflections, an expired lamp, and the attributes of a writer suggest that worldly efforts are ultimately in vain.”  Source: Pieter Claesz: Still Life with a Skull and a Writing Quill (49.107) | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dutch Wine Gauging in the Seventeenth Century

April 27, 2011 4 comments

De Kuiper, Jan Luyken, "Het menselyk bedryf", 1694, Collectie Amsterdams Historisch Museum


Many European cities imposed taxes on wine and beer.  Wine gaugers measured the contents of the barrels in order to calculate the appropriate tax.  This was not an easy task because a barrel is not a simple cylinder.  The two ends of the barrel may be of different diameters, the length varied, and the amount of the bulge varied.  In addition the barrel might be partially filled.  Barrel shapes varied depending upon the wine region it came from.  With the Dutch importing and trading wine from all over the world they had to become proficient at gauging.

The tax on wine and beer was introduced in the 14th century.  There was a tax for the transportation of wine and the selling of wine in cities.  No barrel could be sold within a city without the mark from the tax collector.  By the 16th century wine and beer taxes were generating significant revenue.  In Antwerp they accounted for one-half to three-quarters of all revenue.

A wine gauger was always assisted by a writer.  The first step was to taste the contents to determine if it were filled with wine or water.  The barrel was then measured.  The measurements were entered into an excise book and signed by the gauger and writer.  The wine gauger would then brand the barrel with his mark.   At that point the barrel could be sold or transported.  The wine gauger was also responsible for visiting inns.  Wine for consumption at an inn was taxed at a higher rate than that for private consumption.  The wine gauger visited innkeepers on a quarterly basis to measure the contents of the barrels so that he could calculate the amount of wine consumed.

De Dam, Lambert Doomer, 1645, Collectie van Eeghen

The volume of the barrel was calculated by using a wine gauging rod.  There were several different styles of rod and methods for calculating the volume.  In general the rod was inserted through the bung hole to measure the diameter of the bulge.  Then the diameters of the ends were measure and the length of barrel.  These numbers were used to approximate an equivalent cylinder then the volume was calculated.  To simplify calculation some rods had depth points engraved with the quadratic results next to them.  Another simplification involved pre-calculated tables of length times depth on a so-called change rod.  Finally, a set of engraved calipers called sectors could be used.  Sectors were introduced to wine gauging during the first half of the 17th century and may have military origins from measuring the contents of gunpowder barrels.

Wine gauger with rod

Wine gaugings was an important position that provided a small income.  A wine-gauger was appointed for life.  It is possible they were paid per barrel measured.  Meindert Hobbema (1638-1709) was a Dutch painter of primarily wooded landscapes.  In 1668 he married Eeltje Vinck and became a wine-gauger in Amsterdam.  He held the position for 40 years during which he virtually ceased painting.  Several works exist from this period but oddly do not include wine as a subject.  The couple was buried as paupers.

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) began his working career in 1654 as a shopkeeper.  In 1660 he became a civil servant and eventually a wine gauger for the city of Delft.  In 1671 he left civil service to start his scientific career assembling microscopes and magnifying glasses.  He eventually discovered “animacules.”

The verse in the image of Vincent Jacobsz reads, “With self-searching, most people find the reason and cause for disputes about what is theirs or yours. Yet reason and the law (where disputes are concerned) bound by measurement and justice aim to suit everyone”

Vincent Jacobsz, Gauger-Merchant Amsterdam, Jacob Matham,New South Whales

The Dutch Wine Trade in the 17th Century

April 15, 2011 1 comment

The Eighty Years’ War began as the Dutch revolted against King Philip II of Spain, the sovereign of the Habsburg Netherlands.   The spice trade was dominated by the Portuguese at the time.  They used Antwerp as an important distribution center.  The Portuguese eventually united with the Spanish and in 1591 stopped distributing through Antwerp.  Instead switched to German, Spanish, and Italian firms based in Hamburg.

With the Dutch cut off from trade, the demand for and pricing of spices rose.  Merchant fleets were succesfully sent out resulting in risky but highly profitable trade.  In1602 the Dutch government charted the United East Indies Company with a monopoly over Asian trade.  In 1621 the Charted West India Company was formed.

The Return to Amsterdam of the Second Expedition to the East Indies on 19 July 1599, Andries van Eertvelt, 1610-1620

The Dutch blocked off the river access to Antwerp in 1609 to prevent the Spanish from accessing supplies.  This caused trade to move to the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam.  Despite the continued war with Spain the merchant fleet continued to grow.  By the end of the Eighty Years’ War in 1648 the fleet had reached a staggering 10,000 ships in size.

Amersterdam 1645, Toonneel der Steden van de Vereenighde Nederlanden

They shipped Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhine wine, Greek wine, Malaga from Spain, and Marsala from Italy all over the world.  They traded with Germany, Sweden, England, and the Baltic, amongst others.  They also imported wine for themselves.  Rotterdam was the chief port for wine as it lies at the mouth of the Rhine.

Rotterdam 1645, Toonneel der Steden van de Vereenighde Nederlanden

The easy access along the Rhine river helped develop a taste for sweet, white wines.  When the Thirty Years’ War devasted the Rhineland they looked elsewhere.  Farmers in Bergerac and Sauternes switched from red to white grapes.  The Dutch would add sulphur to stabilize the wine and prevent it from finishing fermentation.

Governors of the Wine Merchants Guild, 1663, Ferdinand Bol, Alte Pinakothek

The also traded in distilled spirits and supplies for distilling.  They bought cheap wine from all over France, traded in Swedish copper to make stills, and used the forests of Armagnac and Cognac to fuel their stills. 

17th Century Dutch Still in Charente

The distilled spirits and fortified wines traveled well to the corners of the world.

Dutch Merchant Ships in Table Bay, 1683, Aernout Smith

“..and one shall drink good wine and eat all things that make the heart rejoice”

Thomas van der Noot edited and published Dutch literary texts and scientific books.  He belonged to one of the prominent Brussels families.  He trained in Lyon and Paris then worked in Antwerp before settling in  Brussels.  In 1514 he published the first cookbook in Dutch “Een Notabel Boecxken van Cokeryen” ( A Notable Little Book of Cookery).  That same year he also published the first Dutch translation of Magninus of Milan’s Regimen Sanitatis (Rule of Health), a book on health and hygiene.

In the sixteenth century the Dutch and Flemish were known for their plant and vegetable production.  In the seventeenth century they earned the reputation as the best-fed population in Europe.  They ate fish, butter, cheese, fruits, vegetables and imported foodstuff from their colonial empire.  They drank wine from France, Italy, and Spain.  There were government-enforced regulation to protect the consumers against bad food and hygiene.

Tregement der ghesontheyt, Magninus Mediolanensis.Brussels, Thomas van der Noot, 1514. Koninklijke Bibliotheek.

There is a quote to accompany the woodcut of a family eating and drinking wine.  “For consumption there is no better remedy than to be merry at heart, and one shall drink goat’s milk and eat fresh hens’ eggs that have been softly boiled… and one shall drink good wine and eat all things that make the heart rejoice, for sadness leads people to melancholy and despondency, and that causes consumption.”

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