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Swedish Silver - The Baroque (circa 1650-1700)

[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 )

The lavish and pretentious German Baroque style was a suitable background for a nouveau riche among European nations, and as such, Sweden may be considered after the Westphalian Peace Treaty in 1648. The Swedes conquered German soil, but German artists and craftsmen conquered the Swedish market, and among goldand silversmiths many German names now appear both in Stockholm and the smaller cities.

German taste expressed itself in a variety of forms and in rich, often too ornate, chased decoration. Showy flower garlands and fruit motifs or scenes including figures cover the surface of the silver, and only narrow borders are left smooth and clear. Perhaps the most pleasing of the fanciful baroque pieces were the popular silver trays. These were usually designed with an oval picture in the center surrounded by an elaborate frame which was decorated in relief. The master whose name most frequently appears on them is Henning Petri (1657-1705) of Nykoping. Lorenz Wall (1682-1695) and Wolter Siewers (1693-1724) of Norrkoping also designed them. Indeed, all Stockholm silversmiths who valued prestige sought to work out new variations of this Swedish interpretation of the famous Augsburg trays.

A cherished legacy of the preceding period was the cylindrical tankard. This was still made with a round profiled base or set on three spherical feet, but the piece was now lower and wider so that it was steadier. Often this tankard had a smooth, shiny body and ornament was limited to a relief motif or a mounted medallion on the cover.

Other types were heavily decorated with garlands or richly engraved patterns, a contrast to the earlier tankards with their restrained border decorations. Baltzar Ekestrom of Halmstad made a tankard in t6g3 which he decorated with a modest and attractive chased design, but too often the German taste was triumphant and elaborate designs of chased flowers covered the whole surface of a vessel.

Lavish decoration also appears on goblets and tumblers. Flowers, birds, and garlands cover surfaces and leave only plain, narrow borders at rim and base. Designs were worked from the inside of a vessel; then, with a burin and punch, the engraver sharpened surface outlines. The baroque-style candleholder with twisted columns looks German but even the French-born Stockholm craftsman, Abraham Carre (1676-1715), designed such a candlestick with chased leaf decoration in 1692.

In the late seventeenth century, a more restrained baroque style found favor in Sweden. It had originated in France, and then spread through Europe. The principle opponent of the exaggerated German Baroque and champion of the new French style was Nicodemus Tessin the Younger, famous as the architect of Stockholm's Royal Palace. He probably designed-or at least supervised the designing of-the beautiful candelabra made in 1695 by Jean Francois Cousinet (1693-1711) far the Palace Church. Both men had previously collaborated with Bernard Foucquet on a magnificent baptismal font for the same church.

In 1693, one hundred years to the day after the Upsala conclave, Peter Henning (1688-1735), a Stockholm goldsmith, was commissioned to make a silver document chest for the safekeeping of the scroll. The chest shows the restrained elegance of the French style, with smooth surface framed by beaded edges, and a profiled cover ornamented with small, graceful garlands. Even in these, the artistic influence of Tessin prevailed.

The feeling for simplicity has always been inherent in Swedish design-when this was allowed to flourish-and even in the lavish baroque period, it was an ever-present undercurrent which now and then appeared, particularly in the design of small punch bowls, which were low and wide, with cast handles. By 1650 the bowl was usually made round. Later it became octagonal and, at the end of the seventeenth century, it was a rounded octagon. The scroll-shaped cast handles show the baroque influence, but the sides of the bowl are usually engraved quite simply.

Even greater restraint distinguishes the large,round three-footed bowls, made toward the end of the seventeenth century. The broad, low bowl rests on three spheres, and usually there is a cover with three spherical knobs so that it can be inverted to rest on the table. The cast handles, as well as the feet, are decorated in relief; otherwise the piece is plain. Such a bowl is part of the Lobe treasure, and was made in the 1680s by Arvid Falck (1667-1691) of Stockholm.

Likewise in the new simplicity are twelve covered goblets which Johan Niltzel (1676-1715) Of Stockholm made in 1698. These were part of a gift made by King Karl XII to Czar Peter in 1699. The gift included a number of ornate pieces of South German make, but these plain goblets stand out as the personal greeting of the young King, whose adherence to simplicity was also expressed in his clothes. Quite as simple is the ewer which was made by Christian Henning (1692-1716) of Stockholm in 1700 for the Brewers' Guild. The simple decoration serves to emphasize the harmonious design.

By a quirk of fashion the German Baroque briefly returned to favor during the last decade of the seventeenth century. A few German-born silversmiths with shops in Stockholm and Gothenburg made goblets and bowls covered with fine silver filigree. The most skillful of these craftsmen was Rudolf Wittkopf (1687-1723) of Stockholm. This elaborate technique was not popular after 1700.

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