THE EARLIEST EXTANT DUTCH WEDDING POEM PRINTED ON SILK

Batavia press

Op het Houwelyck van d’Heer Gysbrecht de David Strantwyck, Schepen deser stede, bruydegom. Ende Eerbare Deughdt-rijcke Juffr: Me Juffrouw. Sara van Heyninge; Bruydt, ’t Samen in den Heyligen Echt verknocht, Op Batavia den 25. October 1674.”

Printed by Joannes Van den Eede, ‘Boeck-verkooper en Boeck-drucker der E: Compagnie’, Batavia, 1674

Printing ink on Chinese silk, 61 x 54 cm (24 x 21.2 inch)

Provenance
Private collection, The Netherlands

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There was a vivid tradition in The Netherlands during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to produce elaborate wedding poems, extolling the virtues of the groom and bride. These were generally printed on paper and read and distributed to wedding guests. In some rare examples these were also printed on silk, it is thought only for the wedded couple itself. During the seventeenth century, these ‘gelegenheidsgedichten’ were usually only one page long, while they became increasingly more elaborate during the eighteenth century, and sometimes evolved into small booklets.

There are 6660 such poems dating before 1800 preserved in the five largest Dutch collections.1 The overwhelming majority is printed on paper, only five examples are printed on silk, which illustrates their rarity. Until the discovery of the present unique and extremely rare sheet, the earliest example on silk was the poem preserved in the Rijksmuseum, printed on damask silk and celebrating the wedding of Maria Pit and Willem Hartsinck on 6 June 1675 in Batavia (fig.).2 The second-oldest example on silk dates from 1745.

The present wedding poem, recently discovered, dates from 1674, a year earlier than the Rijksmuseum example, and is thus the earliest known wedding poem on silk. It celebrates the wedding of Gysbrecht de David Strantwyck and Sara van Heyninge, on 25 October 1674 in Batavia, and printed by the official printer of the VOC, the Dutch East India Company, Joannes van den Eede. Moreover, even in a wider context it is one of the earliest extant printed works published in Batavia (the current Jakarta), as the first printer, Hendrick Brandts, was only established in 1668, only years before our sheet was produced.3

SOLD TO THE KONINKLIJKE BIBLIOTHEEK, THE HAGUE (ROYAL LIBRARY)

1. Gijs van der Ham, ‘Keuze uit de aanwinsten’, Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum, 2005, 53, pp. 76-78.
2. Silk, 62 x 52 cm, inv. no. NG-2002-53; Van der Ham, loc. cit., repr.
3. See J.H. Landwehr, 'De VOC in de wereld van het boek: sponsor en uitgever', De Boekenwereld, 6, 1989-90, pp. 134-145.