Groninger Museum gains silver

27 september 2012


New acquisition:
A selection of Groningen silver from the Hofman-Westerhof collection

The silver collection of the Groninger Museum has received a sizeable boost with the addition of a selection of items from the Hofman-Westerhof collection. Neurologist W.A. Hofman (1915-2002) was a great connoisseur of Groningen silver, a topic to which he devoted several publications. He owned a large collection of silver made in Groningen, with an emphasis on silver produced for the private market. In that context, his collection is a fine supplement to that of the Museum.

The items recently acquired were once made to adorn show tables of the squires, farmers, the city elite and prosperous citizens of Groningen. As the centre of the region, Groningen once boasted a great number of skilled silversmiths. Their work tended to follow the general trends, but also displayed a few extraordinary forms. The thorn-branch rim or cable rim beakers are typical of the city of Groningen and of the city of Emden and surroundings. The beakers were often the property of wealthy farmers. The Groninger Museum has acquired beautiful seventeenth-century beakers by Jan Mettinck and Arent Hamminck. A beaker made from a coconut in 1631-32 was embellished by silversmith Jan Symens with the coat of arms of Prof. Dr Johan Huninga (1588-1638) and his wife Anna Maria van Starkenborgh (1590-1638). Another exceptional object is a silver girdle for a man, made by silversmith Berent Albers in 1625. Such old jewellery is extremely rare.

A coffee pot in the shape of a large garden vase is beautifully decorated in Marot style. Pieces like these made a huge impression on the buffet cabinet. Thomas Muntinck was the maker. Besides the larger objects, more delicate items were also acquired, such as several ‘captains’ spoons and forks. These captains of the Groningen citizens’ regiment were given a spoon or a fork as a token gift every year. The Museum has thus been able to expand its collection with various examples.

Research has shown that much Groningen silver was later melted down, but the exhibitions entitled Silver in Groningen (2010-11), the Groninger Hallmark (1997) and Groninger Silver (1975) demonstrated that there is still enough to enjoy. The new acquisitions were also on display in these exhibitions.

On show until
The new acquisitions will be presented in the Info Centre of the Groninger Museum from now until 20 January 2013.

With thanks to
The acquisition was made possible by the J.B. Scholten Foundation, the Lambers-Burger Foundation, the BankGiro Lottery, the Rembrandt Association, Het Roode of Burgerweeshuis Foundation, and a private contributor.