Cuper’s Library and Artworks

19 augustus 2013 Harold Cook Nederlandse geschiedenis en cultuur

Gisbert Cuper collected not only coins but a considerable library along with some other objects of value. A double-folio advertisement of its auction following his death is now filed in the KB as a bijlage in the hs-magazijn.

List of lots sold in the auction of Cuper's books. Shelfmark 72 H 29

List of lots sold in the auction of Cuper's books. Shelfmark 72 H 29

Catalogue

The list of lots sold shows that the extant record of Cuper’s library is incomplete. That list of titles is a copybook in quarto, with no indication of when or why it was compiled (now shelf-number KW 72 H 29). It begins with theology in folio, then history and geography, antiquities, ancient literature, and law, then again each category grouped by quarto, octavo, and duodecimo. The categories are expansive: folio “antiquities” is where Witsen’s Scheepsbouw is listed, for example, while the octavo “histories” includes works on history, geography, peoples, languages, travels, epistles, coins, and “Respublicae,” the latter containing works on politics generally rather than republics strictly speaking. The whole catalogue consists of 231 pages, with both sides used to record titles and only a few folios left blank; on average there are probably between six and eight titles listed per page. The catalogue therefore gives about 3000 titles at most compared to the sale inventory of about 4000 items.

List of lots sold in the auction of Cuper's books. Shelfmark 72 H 29

List of lots sold in the auction of Cuper's books. Shelfmark 72 H 29

Paintings

The sale inventory also includes 35 “Reliquiae,” recording the buyer and price. Cuper’s prized painting of the ruins of Palmyra by Hofstede van Essen (in oil on a 4-meter-wide wood panel) was sold for 17 gilders to one Hoornaert, probably a descendant of Charles Hoornaert, an early seventeenth-century Deventer teacher and liefhebber. Other valuable objects included an “Idola Sinensia” (sold for 1 gilder 18 stuivers), an Indian bow (16s), a drum from Lapland (f.1 18s.), paintings of Laplanders sold for f. 12 to “Dr. G. Jordens” (from an influential family of Deventer), paintings of Turks sold for f. 30 to “L. Dumbar voor B. Suchtelen” (another important Deventer family, related to Cuper by his marriage to Alida van Suchtelen), globes (f. 18), prints (f.2 10s.), a barometer and a thermometer (f. 6), and two marble busts for f. 130. The painting of the ruins of Palmyra came to Cuper in 1693-4 via the good offices of the Dutch consul in Aleppo, Conrad Calkberner (KW 72 C 3, fols. 38-50), and is now in the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam; the paintings of the Laplanders and drums are probably now in Copenhagen (according to Jan van der Waals, “Exotische Rariteiten …” in De Wereld Binnen Handbereik [Zwolle: Waanders Uitgevers/Amsterdams Historisch Museum, 1992], p. 154).

While Cuper did not collect naturalia, then, and seems to have collected his library for use rather than display, when considered together with his coins, paintings, busts, and other objects, these lists allows us to get a glimpse of how a wealthy member of the Republic of Letters might have spent some of his income at the turn of the eighteenth century. They also shed a bit of light on his working methods.