This bread basket was executed in the Dutch Louis XVI style of the late 18th Century. This style which returned to symmetry and classical motifs originated in France as a reaction to the Rococo. And was further stimulated by excavations in the Roman towns Pompeii and Herculaneum in the 1740s and 1750s, initiated by well-off English and French amateur-archaeologists known as 'dilletanti'.
These excavations have been a major source of inspiration. And the longing for the glorious era of the reign of Louis XIV, also known as 'La Grande Siécle', the French applied classical motifs in a much more vivid , decorative way than the English, who developped a more archaeologically style of Neo-Classicism. It took the classical revival about twenty years to surpress the naturalistic Rococo. The 1760s saw a transitional style, but soon after the French monarchy had adopted it as the official national style, the French Neo-Classicism triumphed around 1775. At first the Dutch followed the French but after 1790 the ridged and archaeological English style became popular in Holland.
This breadbasket is a good example of the Dutch adoption of the decorative French style of Neo-classicism in the 1780s. Silversmiths in Amsterdam, the undisputed centre of Dutch Neo-classicism, had since the turn of the Century been following French fashion quite closely.
Most of the ornamentation of this time appeared in laurel and beaded bands, garland swags, ribbons, trophies, (portrait)medallions, small rosettes, column-shaped feet and stems.
(Duyvene de Wit-Klinkhamer, Th. M. and M. H. Gans, Geschiedenis van het Nederlands zilver, Amsterdam 1958, pp.44-46) The French style was greatly admired in Holland, particularly in Amsterdam. Amsterdam, a town which had always had a strong Classicist bias, in contrast to The Hague, did not take such an interest in the light-hearted Louis XVI style. (A.L. den Blauwen,Nederlands zilver 1580-1830, pp. XXXVIII)
During the 18th Century the use of silver objects by households became more common. A good example is the bread basket which became very popular. In Holland the making of these baskets started around 1750 and ended around 1800. The rest of Europe continued making them after that. It was in 1850 that Holland (Schoonhoven and Van Kempen en Begeer) started to make baskets again but cake baskets rather than bread baskets.
The first bread baskets were made in Louis XV style, the form continued the same throughout the Louis XVI style and only the decoration changed.
Around 1730 the flatting-mill improved enormously and after 1750 the bread basket became very popular.
After 1770 both piercing and beaded borders were done with machines. These technical improvements led to specialisation. Bread baskets became a thriving business, like in the case of Amsterdam silversmith Reynier Brandt(registered 1734).(K.A. Citroen,Amsterdamse zilver- smeden en hun merken, Amsterdam 1975, pp.97)(Duyvene de Wit-Klinkhamer, Th.M. en M.H. Gans,Geschiedenis van het Nederlands zilver, Amsterdam 1958, pp.61,62)
The silversmith Reynier Brandt made several baskets in the Louis XV and Louis XVI style. His bread baskets are the best examples of the two different styles of silver from Amsterdam.(K.A. Citroen, F. van Erpers Royaards, J. Verbeek,Meesterwerken in zilver, pp.23, for examples cat. nr. 139,158, 165)
A similar bread basket, made in Amsterdam in 1784 by Reynier Brandt was sold at Christie's Amsterdam, 28 November 1995, lot 236.(NLG28.750)
Barend van Mecklenburg was born in 1751 in Leer (Oost-Friesland), son of Staat (goldsmith) and Mayke Vink.
In 1779 he became a silversmith in Amsterdam producing silver crockery. All his work is in Louis XVI style. A good example is a tobacco box dating 1790 which can be found at the Amsterdam Historisch Museum. He died in 1823 in the Weteringdwarsstraat in Amsterdam.(K.A. Citroen,Amsterdamse zilversmeden en hun merken, Amsterdam 1975, pp.23) (E., Voet, Merken van Amsterdamse goud-en zilversmeden, Den Haag 1912, pp. 72, 73)
F. Grijzenhout/C. van Tuyll van Serooskerken (red), Edele eenvoud. Neo-classicisme in Nederland 1765-1800, Haarlem (Frans Hals Museum & Teylers Museum)/Den Haag (Rijksdienst Beeldend Kunst/Zwolle, 1989
C. Hernmark, The Art of the European Silversmith 1430-1830, London, 1977