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Swedish Silver - The Renaissance (circa 1520-1650)

[Silver In The Middle Ages (circa 1050-1520)]  [The Renaissance (circa 1520-1650)]  [The Baroque (circa 1650-1700)]  [The Late Baroque (circa 1700-1720)]  [Period Of Fredrik I (circa 1720-1750)]  [The Rococo (circa 1750-1775)]  [The Gustavian Era (circa 1775-1810)]  [Empire (circa 1810-1830)]  [The Period Of Eclecticism (circa 1830-1895)]  [The Jugend Style Or L'Art Nouveau (circa 1895-1910)]  [Modern Developments]  [Silver Marks]  [More Articles On Silver] 

( Originally Published 1951 )

If all silver made during the reign of the Vasa Kings (1521-1654) is considered Renaissance, it will present a rather heterogeneous collection. Usually the period is divided into Early and Late Vasa. However, so little silver remains from the sixteenth century that the classification of Early Vasa hardly seems necessary.

King Gustaf Vasa's confiscation of ecclesiastical silver marks the beginning of the period. Cloisters and churches were forced to give up most of their medieval silver, retaining but one chalice and paten for the Lutheran service. During the strict reign of this sovereign, gold- and silversmiths knew little prosperity with no large orders from churches or the royal family. It is therefore understandable that so few pieces have come down from this time. There is a bowl in the Hallwyl Museum in- Stockholm, dated 1558 and undoubtedly made by a Stockholm smith, which has that lovely simplicity the nation proudly considers pure Swedish. The same beauty of form distinguishes a cup dated 1554 and bearing the mark of Hans Olofsson (1549-1584) of Stockholm.

The continental Renaissance style did not influence Swedish silver until the reign of the Vasa sons. It was King Erik XIV who adopted the Renaissance mode. For his coronation in 1561 he ordered such splendid regalia of pure gold that to this day there are none more magnificent in the historical collection of state regalia.

Under King Johan III, whose leanings were toward the more elaborate ceremonials of catholicism, the churches again placed orders for silver. The King himself established a precedent by having made a magnificent shrine for the relics of St. Erik in Upsala Cathedral.

The wooden shrine is covered with gilded and richly ornamented silver plates. It was made by Hans Rosenfelt and Hans Teusson, 1574-1579. The court sculptor and architect, William Boy, a man of Flemish birth, probably collaborated on the design. The decoration consists partly of corner figurettes, angel masks, and filleted work, and partly of rectangular sections with rich Moresque and mounted ornament.

The most popular piece among seventeenthcentury silversmiths was the tankard. A fine one was made by Anders Misterbach (1590-1612) in Stockholm. Around the cover and base are low-relief borders; the rest is gracefully engraved. The same master designed a special drinking vessel, a "welcome cup," dated 1607. It was ordered by the Shoemaker's Guild in Stockholm and made in the shape of a shoe.

Many small, round, rectangular, and octagonal boxes were made. Most of them have come down to us as consecrated shrines. One rectangular box, resting on four spheres, was made by Michel Beck (1631-1672) in Stockholm and presented in 1634 to the Norrsunda Church. The front is decorated with the coats of arms of the donors, Sparre and Oxenstierne. A well-proportioned octagonal box was made in 1655 by Lars Wansson of Mariestad (1644-1665) for the city church. The decoration, except for the mounted hinges, consists of an inscription in Roman letters on the cover. Finally mention should be made of a bowl whose simple form and delicate ornament are unique. It bears the mark of Albrecht Lockert (1623-1668) of Stockholm, and carries on the bottom the engraved coat of arms of Johann Skytte and Maria Naf with the date 1624.

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