Sons of a silversmith in Utrecht, Adam and Paul van Vianen are artists. Paul travels and transfers the Dutch taste to Rudolf II in Prague. Adam remains in Utrecht. They create complex shapes by chasing a silver plaque of very high purity, shaping the surface into lobes that have identified their style as "auricular". The figures are modeled on wax.
The covered baluster ewer 23 cm high for sale by Christie's on April 20 in New York as lot 21 is dated 1619. It is clearly signed A. DE VIANA rather than stamped with a logo, confirming that Adam claimed the status of an artist.
Beyond a Mannerist accumulation including masks, dolphins, monsters and a beetle apparently without an overall coherence, the main theme of this ewer is the story of Marcus Curtius divided into three large roundels. The van Vianen brothers also used the themes of Mucius Scevola and Horatius Cocles for other pieces in an obvious desire to make a praise of the Republican sacrifice.
One of the greatest admirers and collectors of auricular silverware will be Rembrandt, attesting to the important influence of that style on the decorative art of the Dutch Golden Age.
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SOLD for $ 5.4M including premium