Covered jug decorated in blue monochrome with an inscription in Dutch that translates as: "In the year 1697, in the Royal House in Ryswick, peace was made between kings and princes: the King of Spain, the King of England and the King of France, Holland and Wales. Lieerde between 20 and 21 September", in a cartouche decorated with a mascaron, festoons and bouquets of flowers and fruit, framed by two lovers holding a flowery vase and surrounded by putti in clouds. Friezes of motifs on the edges. This pitcher symbolizes the peace treaty between England, the Netherlands, the Holy German Empire and France ending the war of the League of Augsburg (1688-1697).
It has a silver lid with two busts of the legendary Witt brothers on top: "Cornelius de Witt 1623" and "Johannes de Witt" with the inscription "Hic armis maximus ille toga" ("This one was great in arms, this one in toga"). Cornelius de Witt won on the sea against the English in 1667, and Johan, a great Dutch boarder, was one of the great statesmen of the United Provinces. The term toga, under the Roman Empire, could designate the civil function, the opposition arma / toga falling under the topos (common place).
The inside of the lid is decorated with a scene depicting two upside-down men and a monster with animal heads. It commemorates the massacre of the Witt brothers on 20 August 1672, who were accused of not having been able to prevent Louis XIV from invading the Netherlands. This ornamentation is a copy of a famous silver medal made by F. Avry. The scene is surrounded by the inscriptions: "NUNC REDUNT ANIMIS IN GENTIA CONSULIS ACTA ET FORMIDATI SCEPTRIS ORACLA MINISTRI" ("The immense acts of the consul and the oracles of the minister feared by sceptres come to mind") and "Nobile par fratrum sævo furor ore trucidat" ("From his wild mouth, fury tears the noble couple of brothers apart").
Late 17th century, dated 1697.
Restorations on the neck at the bottom of the handle and on the base.
The lid bears a hallmark of importation from Holland, circa 1880.
Height: 22.5 cm
The linguistic richness that plays here on the semantic field of savagery is impossible to render in French: the adjective sævus means wild, barbaric, inhuman, and the verb trucidare is in the same register, being etymologically derived from the adjective trux, wild, fierce. As it appears on the medal, this motto is inscribed with letters of different modules. It is a "chronogram", i.e. a text whose function is to indicate a date, according to a common practice in Northern Europe at the time. The letters of large module are to be read like Roman numerals (the "U" and the "V" being equivalent for a value of "5"), and to be added together to obtain a year. The motto on the medal reads as follows: NobILe par fratrVM sæVo fVror ore trVCIDat. Let: I+L+V+M+V+V+V+V+V+C+I+D = 1+50+5+1000+5+5+5+5+100+1+500 = 1672, date of the death of the Witt brothers.
We would like to thank Pierre Gheno, palaeographer archivist, expert at the Paris Court of Appeal, Librairie Les neuf muses, for his research and the information provided.
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