Amsterdam Centre for the Study of the Golden Age

Utensils in Art: The Object as an Artist’s Model and the Domestic Utensil as Decorative Arts

24May2018 26May2018 10:00


Netherlandish paintings from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries often display scenes from everyday life. These works contain a wide variety of common utensils, which are often an exact match with archaeological finds and surviving objects. In some cases the utensils are used to represent a proverb. Vice versa, the iconography we know from paintings, was not only reserved for ‘high’ arts, but topics like the peasants’ wedding also found their way to stoneware jugs.

The ALMA database of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is an interactive database that links depictions of pre-industrial objects, dating from the late Middle Ages to the nineteenth century, in paintings and prints to examples of similar material objects. Utensils can be richly decorated, like table bells, vessels, jugs, plates, hearth tiles, etc. From paintings and archaeological remains we know that peasants made use of earthenware from Raeren and other potteries in that area. It must have been strange for them to be the topic of some Raeren jugs used by the upper class, which show peasants dancing like we know from paintings by Bruegel and prints by Sebald Beham and Albrecht Dürer. And there are more similarities in iconography between the ‘high’ and ‘low’ arts. Recently, researchers also have looked at the choice of iconography for a specific room, area or class. There are dining rooms where the iconography shows diner parties and kitchen scenes.


We welcome submissions that will bring up new insights about the domestic object as an artist’s model, and domestic utensils as decorative arts. Please send in a preliminary title, an abstract (max. 250 words) and a short bio (max. 100 words) to or by May 15, 2017. If you submit a proposal to more than one session, you should notify the chairs in advance. Only papers that are unpublished and not previously presented will be considered. Speakers must be HNA members at the time of the conference. The conference language will be English.

Published by  ACSGA