A bronze mortar by Aelbert Müller

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Origin
the Netherlands, Deventer
Period
Dated 1662
Material
Bronze
Dimensions
27.5 x 35.5 cm
Literature

D.A. Wittop Koning, Nederlandse vijzels, Weert, 1989
D. Martens, Schoonheid van toen. Antiek in de Lage Landen, Louvain, 2008

Provenance

Priv. coll., before 1997.
01.07.1997, London, Christie’s, lot 130.
Gallery Jan Dirven, Antwerp, 1997-1999.
Priv. coll., Belgium, 1999-2007.

Exhibitions:
2007,Antwerp,‘Invenit et fecit’.Works of Art by Known Masters or Workshops,Antwerp,2007,no.18.
2010, Antwerp, ‘Als ic can’. 10 Years of Masterpieces from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. A Selection from My Current Collection, Antwerp, 2010, no.24.

The body of this monumental bronze mortar is decorated with two friezes. While the upper frieze comprises a consecutive series of round shields alternating with winged nymphs, the lower frieze depicts a marvellous hunting scene. In a landscape densely populated with animals, trees and buildings, several hunters with dogs and one on horseback are pursuing a wild boar.

The raised collar surmounting the friezes bears the signature AELBERT MVLLER ME FESIT ANNO 1662. The present unique mortar is in very good condition, it is still very sharp and has a wonderful dark brown patina. Only two other mortars by Albert Müller are known: in addition to a VOC-mortar bearing the date 1663, illustrated by Wittop Koning, there is one in a Canadian private collection (St. Albert, AB) dated 1662, which is, however, much smaller and simpler than the one presented here.
Both friezes found here can also be seen on mortars by Hendrick ter Horst and Gerrit Schimmel, the two most important and best- known bronze casters from Deventer (the Netherlands). Albert Müller was also active in Deventer and held an important position there: it is known for example that on 16 December 1680 he attended the sale to Gerrit Schimmel of the foundry that once belonged to Hendrick ter Horst who had died in 1666.

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