This extraordinary Dutch spoon was formerly displayed in the first floor gallery of the Museum. An inscription, flanked by skeletons, commemorates the death of Elisabeth Boser on 20 July 1664 aged only eleven.
New research prior to the spoon’s redisplay has revealed new and exciting information about Elisabeth Boser and her family. According to records in the Amsterdam Municipal Archives, Elisabeth Boser was the only daughter of Jacob Boser, a shoemaker in the Oude Teertuinen district of Amsterdam. Jacob and his wife Annetje married in 1647 and their children included: Hendrick, Henrick, Anna Lisabet (Elisabeth) and Jacobus. Elisabeth was baptised in the Amsterdam Oude Kirk on 23 March 1653. She was buried in the same church 11 years later on 24 July 1664. This richly decorated spoon and the relatively high cost of her funeral (15 guilders), suggest that Elisabeth was greatly cherished by her family.
It is highly likely that Elisabeth was the victim of the plague epidemic that decimated Amsterdam between 1663-66. Rembrandt’s partner Hendrickje Stoffels was one of the many victims. Despite strict quarantine measures – noted by Samuel Pepys – the epidemic spread to London where it became known as the Great Plague.
The spoon will be imaginatively displayed in an island case in the centre of the new gallery of Dutch and Flemish paintings. Displayed with a funeral medal and flanked by cases containing Dutch christening spoons and marriage beakers it will help tell the story of life and death in the Dutch ‘Golden Age’.
Published on: 07/01/2011