Trifling Things? The Sara Lewes Memorial Lepel and Vork
Authors: Buis, Alena M; Brown, Kevin
Source: Dutch Crossing: Journal of Low Countries Studies, Volume 36, Number 3, November 2012 , pp. 192-215(24)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:A case study of the Sara Lewes memorial Vork (fork) and Lepel (spoon), rare survivals in silver from the seventeenth century made in a Dutch colony in about 1672 to commemorate the decease of a woman named Sara Lewes, considers how these objects may have been produced, consumed and valued in the context of early modern trade networks. In the Dutch Auricular style, this cutlery serves as our starting point for a wide-ranging consideration of the cross-cultural life of such objects, including translations of form and transculturations of meaning in the early modern era. During a time of rapidly expanding Dutch trade networks, these artefacts were widely travelled and exhibit a complicated biography. As a rarely noticed by-product of the activities of the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC), and the Dutch West India Company (Geoctroyeerde Westindische Compagnie or WIC), which were driving forces in the growth and expansion of the Dutch Empire, the Dutch forged a genuinely global material culture, in which artefacts and decorative art styles travelled often and easily from Batavia in the east to New Netherland in the west, and beyond. Compelling, and contradictory sets of evidence are presented to prove that the Lewes cutlery was made in New Netherland and in Batavia. However, where these trifles were made is of little consequence as their true importance lies in the story they tell about the global transmission of decorative art styles during the Golden Age of the Dutch Republic.
Document Type: Original Article
Affiliations: Queen’s University, Canada and Independent Scholar
Publication date: 2012-11-01