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Fit Vessel: Kwab at the Rijksmuseum

Stielau, A; (2019) Fit Vessel: Kwab at the Rijksmuseum. West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture , 26 (1) pp. 110-132. 10.1086/704649. Green open access

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Among the acknowledged treasures of the Rijksmuseum, one of a few select masterpieces to remain on view during a decade-long renovation is a ewer made in 1614 by the Utrecht silversmith Adam van Vianen (fig. 1). A few forms are recognizable in its surface—the monkey-like creature bearing the volume of the cup on its shoulders, a nude woman’s back curved over where the handle is meant to be—but these morph into indistinct areas without ready description, a roiling mass of slick, wormy, shuddering stuff. That stuff, as a recent exhibition grounded in Van Vianen’s ewer taught us, is kwab, the “flabby fold or thickening . . . of a human or animal body” that featured prominently in an ornamental mode that became popular in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic. Kwab: Dutch Design in the Age of Rembrandt introduced audiences to this ornamental mode, locating its innovation in the work of two talented families of silversmiths and tracking its gradual spread both geographically, within and beyond the Dutch Republic, and medially, from precious metals into wood, brass, leather, ivory, and even baleen.

Type: Article
Title: Fit Vessel: Kwab at the Rijksmuseum
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1086/704649
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1086/704649
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History of Art
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10078094
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