Of very heavy gauge silver and rounded oblong form with convex sides,
lid and verso each with panels of Biblical scenes :
The lid referring to King
Solomon, and the duality of his nature and worship;
The verso depicting The Prodigal Son.
THE LID WITH THREE PANELS :
the end panels set within a foliate
surround, the center panel with a colonnade and beneath drapery
centered by a crown,
the intricate embossing all
against a stippled background;
the conforming hinged cover with a plain thumb-piece, the rim engraved with the initials A C F
well marked on the cover, center interior,
with the Amsterdam mark, and the year mark N, for 1796,
and a maker's mark Christoffel Woortman*, (a duck on water within
an oval punch)
CENTER PANEL :
Probably relating the well known story of
the Judgment of the Baby,
in which two sisters claim to the mother and Solomon's decision to
require the cutting of the baby in half to reveal the identity of
the real mother. However the two figures here are male instead
of female. It features Solomon on the stepped throne between
two lions, with illustrations of the two women arguing over the
child, and an attendant with sword preparing to divide the child.
Baal and some of the other foreign gods also required the sacrifice
of babies and young children.
LEFT PANEL :
Possibly the Queen of Sheba
before him, accompanied by her
servants, Solomon again on his stepped throne sided by two lions and holding
a scepter. (First Kings 10, and Chronicles 9)
RIGHT PANEL :
Depicting the idolatry into which Solomon
drifted and to whom he built temples.
The animal-headed figure to the left may also represent Baal, who
demanded the sacrifices of babies.
VERSO WITH A SINGLE PANEL DIVIDED BY TREES:
The single long panel divided by two leafed
trees forming three scenes, all within a foliate surround including
tulips on the ground, the intricate embossing all
against a stippled background.
LEFT SCENE :
The young prodigal son departing on horseback bidding, farewell to his mother
CENTER PANEL :
The prodigal son being sent to
the fields to tend pigs, in a fenced farm, a village in the distance.
"He longed to fill his stomach
with the pods and the pigs, but no one gave him anything".
RIGHT PANEL :
The return of the prodigal son
being embraced by his father, his mother with open arms,
and the brother standing by.
The Judgment of Solomon has long
been a popular subject for artists and is often chosen for
decoration of courthouses. In the Netherlands, many 17th century
courthouses (Vierschaar rooms) contain a painting or relief of the
Woortman, the son of
distiller Albert Woortman and Maria Allebee, worked as a silversmith
in Amsterdam, with marks between 1778 and 1801. He was a
"smallworker", specializing in articles such as etuis, corkscrews,
and tobacco boxes. A similar box by Woortman, the lid only chased
with the Prodigal Son scene, realized 2449.00 USD at Christie's
Amsterdam, December 2011.
Condition : Excellent, with slight expected wear
to the high points of the embossing; the hinge very lightly sprung
but in good working order, without breaks or repairs
6.8 oz. / 6.25” Long