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A rare silver ‘Kwab’ bowl and cover

Indonesia, Batavia, 4th quarter 17th century, apparently unmarked

H. 18.5 x W. 21 cm
Weight 587 grams

 

The present silver covered bowl is an excellent example of the ‘Kwab’ or auricular style silver objects made in Batavia, former Dutch East-Indies, in the late 17th century. This style consists of lavish organic forms together with fantastic sea creatures, masks and grotesques (for an overview of Kwab-style see: Reinier Baarsen, Kwab, ornament als kunst in de eeuw van Rembrandt, Rijksmuseum 2018). Although a similar style already arose in Renaissance Italy, the auricular style flourished in the early 17th century in the work of the Utrecht silversmiths Paulus van Vianen (c. 1570-1613) and his brother Adam van Vianen (1568-1627). The present bowl and cover are decorated with Kwab stylized elephant heads and trunks, bordering empty fields.

In Batavia inventories, these bowls are described as ‘Een silvere watercom met sijne piering’, a silver water bowl with its dish. Very few complete sets of bowls together with their dishes have survived. One such a set marked M.G. and with town mark of Batavia is in the collection of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam (see: Asia in Amsterdam, p. 104-105).

Exhibited:

“Zilver uit Batavia,” April 21st  - November 4th, 2012, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag