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15 mars 2024

Attributed to Michel Le Blon, The Bicker Gold Wedding Cutlery, 1608

Attributed to Michel Le Blon, The Bicker Gold Wedding Cutlery, 1608
Attributed to Michel Le Blon, The Bicker Gold Wedding Cutlery, 1608
Attributed to Michel Le Blon, The Bicker Gold Wedding Cutlery, 1608
Attributed to Michel Le Blon, The Bicker Gold Wedding Cutlery, 1608
Attributed to Michel Le Blon, The Bicker Gold Wedding Cutlery, 1608

Attributed to Michel Le Blon, The Bicker Gold Wedding Cutlery, Amsterdam, 1608. Gold, enamel, steel. Knife length: 19.2 cm, Fork length: 18.5 cm Weight: 44 grams each. Price available upon inquiry. . AARDEWERK at TEFAF 2024. © 2024 TEFAF

 

Signature: Michel Le Blon or workshop.

Provenance: • Jacob Jacobsz Bicker (1581-1626) and his Anna Roelofs de Vrij (c.1589 - 1626)
• Baron Mayer Alphonse James de Rothschild (1827- 1905), in Entresol, hôtel de Saint- Florentin, Paris
• Baron Edouard Alphonse James de Rothschild (1868- 1949), in Fumoir sur la cour, hôtel de Saint-Florentin, Paris.
• Confiscated by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg after the occupation of France in May 1940 (ERR no. R2506).
• Recovered by way of the Monuments Fine Arts and Archives Section from the Altaussee salt mines, Austria (no. 1170) and taken to the Central Collection Point in Munich on 28 June 1945 (MCCP no. 1371/87 and 1371/88).
• Restituted to the Rothschild family in France on 11 July 1946 and remained in the family by descent..

Originally it was customary for a pair of knives to be given as part of a bridal trousseau. Around 1600, a matching knife and fork was given instead in well to do circles in the Netherlands. Occasionally these were made of costly silver. A set of gold bridal cutlery, however, is highly exceptional and could only be afforded by the very richest. In the seventeenth century, gold was fifteen times more expensive than silver.

The practice of giving knives first started in the 14th century. Marriage contracts of this period record the ‘attest of knife’. This practice derived from the convention of presenting a purchaser with a knife when conveying property. Around 1600, this became a matching knife and fork.

This set of marriage cutlery was given to Anna Roeloffs on the occasion of her wedding to Jacob Bicker in 1608.

The iron knife blade and the tines of the fork are partly gilded and decorated with acanthus leaves. The gold handles are gently rounded, widen towards the ornately sculpted end and have a round knob as finial. They are decorated all over with detailed enamelled foliage and fruit motifs; among them are snails, libellules and butterflies aswell as exotic birds and a pelican feeding her young, executed in beautiful shades of blue, red, green, yellow and white. The family coats of arms of the bride and bridegroom are shown in enamel slightly above the middle. The name of the bride,

Anna Roeloffs, is enamelled on the side of both handles.

Anna was the daughter of one of the burgomasters of Amsterdam and Jacob was a scion of the influential patrician Bicker family. The Bickers played a role in the foundation of the Dutch West India Company, concentrated on the fur trade in Moscow, and had interests in shipbuilding and peat cutting. Through shrewd strategic marriages, including an alliance with the De Graeff family, who likewise belonged to the Amsterdam elite, they not only strengthened their financial position, but were also able to divide up important positions of power in the city among themselves. At its peak, in the mid-seventeenth century, seven Bickers held important political posts. The Republican family also had ties at national level; for instance, Grand Pensionary Johan de Witt was married to a Bicker. The family was known by friend and foe alike as the ‘Bicker league’. Together with the sedentary De Graeff family, the Bicker family controlled the administration of the city of Amsterdam and indirectly the province of Holland for half a century.

Originally made for the wealthiest Amsterdam patrician family in the seventeenth century, in the nineteenth century this set found its way to the Rothschild family, one of the richest families in the world. The Rothschilds, an international banking dynasty, are known for their extensive art collections. It was Mayer Alphonse James de Rothschild who managed to acquire this gold marriage set for his collection in the nineteenth century.

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