VIANEN, Adam van
(b. ca. 1568, Utrecht, d. 1627, Utrecht)

Covered ewer

Silver-gilt, height 25,5 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

This ewer is an extreme example of the auricular style, an anti-classical form of design with a flaccid, fluid appearance comprising fantastic sea-creatures and human body parts like bones, ears, sinews and folds of skin. The ewer captured the imagination of numerous painters, in part because its bizarre form allowed it to pass as an object from an ancient and foreign land. Examples of the numerous paintings in which it is incorporated include a kitchen scene by Adriaen van Nieulandt, the Isaac Blessing Jacob by Gerbrand van denn Eeckhout, and a large canvas by Govert Flinck.

The ewer was commissioned by the Amsterdam silversmiths' guild which possessed it until 1821. Adam van Vianen made the ewer in memory of his younger brother Paulus, who died in Prague in 1613.

While Paulus van Vianen held an important post at the court of Rudolf II in Prague, his brother Adam remained loyal to their native city of Utrecht.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.