Seated Cupid

Étienne-Maurice Falconet, 1757, BK-1963-101

This famous statue already had many nicknames in the 18th century. Perhaps the best known is l’amour menaçant - menacing love. The menace is mainly in the love god’s expression, while his gesture makes us complicit, through silence. The statue was carved for Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV…

Portrait of a Member of the Van der…

Cornelis Troost, 1736, painting, SK-A-3948

The portrait conveys a sense of convivial hospitality, as if the man were inviting us into his home to enjoy his art and music. In a typically 18th-century way, the portrait has no sense of distance, of authority. It introduces us directly to the open personality of this enthusiastic young member of…

The Art Gallery of Jan…

Adriaan de Lelie, 1794 - 1795, painting, SK-A-4100

In 1792, Gildemeester, a merchant, turned two large rooms at his house on Amsterdam’s Herengracht into an art gallery. Here he stands proudly at the centre of the front room, speaking with one of his guests. Visitors are examining famous paintings, including a Rembrandt - above Gildemeester’s head.…

Blue Macaw

Meissener Porzellan Manufaktur, 1731, BK-17496

German scientists discovered the ingredients of Chinese porcelain in the 18th century. Elector August the Strong was such a fan of this hard, translucent white material that he filled his Japanese Palace in Dresden with porcelain objects. In the 1730s, he had a series of large birds and animals…

Desk

Abraham Roentgen, c. 1758 - c. 1760, BK-16676

This desk has numerous secret compartments and drawers and even includes a fold-out prie-dieu. It was made for Johann Philipp von Walderdorff, archbishop and elector of Trier, and is decorated at the top with his portrait and heraldic arms. The desk is the most expensive showpiece ever made by…

A Dutch Merchant, Possibly Andreas…

Chitqua (attributed to), c. 1770, figure, BK-1976-49

Van Braam Houckgeest ran the Dutch East India Company (VOC) base in Canton harbour in south China from 1790 to 1795. He may have commissioned this figure of himself on a previous journey in China. Chinese sculptor Chitqua specialised in this kind of clay portrait, mainly for foreigners. Similar…

Stadtholder’s chair

Gerrit Hutte, 1747, BK-NM-1315

Willem IV sat on this chair when he presided over the high court in The Hague. The cabinetmaker who made it, Hutte, and Van Dijck, who carved it, chose an extreme Rococo style for this ceremonial chair. The back is crowned with the arms of Zeeland, Holland and West Friesland and the embroidered…

The First Day of School

Jean Baptiste Vanmour, c. 1720 - c. 1737, painting, SK-A-2005

A mother brings her daughter to school on her first day, followed by an entourage of women. They are evidently Turkish Muslims, since the dress code allowed them colourful clothes and yellow shoes, unlike non-Muslims. A servant is carrying the girl’s embroidery frame. Handicraft was a favourite…

Wine fountain and cooler

Alger Mensma (attributed to), 1731, BK-1963-65

This urn and cooler for washing hands and glasses, formed the decorative centrepiece on a luxurious sideboard. Both were presented to Cornelis Schrijver in recognition of his heroism at sea. That is the symbolism of the reliefs of heraldic arms, fish, shells and sea deities.

Wine fountain and cooler

Alger Mensma (attributed to), 1731 - 1732, BK-1963-64

This urn and cooler for washing hands and glasses, formed the decorative centrepiece on a luxurious sideboard. Both were presented to Cornelis Schrijver in recognition of his heroism at sea. That is the symbolism of the reliefs of heraldic arms, fish, shells and sea deities.