The Rijksmuseum Bulletin 70 (2022), 4

Titel der Ausgabe 
The Rijksmuseum Bulletin 70 (2022), 4

Amsterdam 2022: Selbstverlag
Anzahl Seiten
104 S.
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The Rijksmuseum Bulletin
Dr. Anne-Maria van Egmond, Scientific editor, Publications Department, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam,
Anne-Maria van Egmond, Publications Department, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

A new Rijksmuseum Bulletin has been published, specifically presenting articles on the colonial provenance of Rijksmuseum objects. The Bulletin is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal presenting scholarly articles that contribute to historical and art-historical research into the Rijksmuseum collections to an international audience of curators, scholars, students, art professional and enthusiasts. For viewing the open access publication, see

For information on subscriptions or proposals, see


Doreen van den Boogaart and Alicia Schrikker
Wanderings: The Provenance of Six Sri Lankan Objects

Six objects that are displayed together in the Rijksmuseum were researched as part of the Sri Lanka work-package of the Pilot Project Provenance Research on Objects of the Colonial Era. This group of elegantly decorated ceremonial weapons has a clear Sri Lankan origin as it shows recognizable Kandyan workmanship. The objects are linked to the violent plundering of the town and palace of the kingdom of Kandy by the Dutch in 1765 and are said to have been looted and added to the collection of the Dutch Stadholders shortly afterwards. This has made the objects controversial. While we could confirm that they were likely spoils of the Dutch Kandyan war, we also found that each of them had a different itinerary before it was placed in the collection. Unfortunately, the inventories of Stadholder Willem v’s collection remained silent about these objects: their exact moment of arrival in the collection has not been recorded. Our provenance research therefore included a reconstruction of the wanderings of each of these objects from the palace of Kandy to the Dutch Stadholder’s collection. In this contribution we discuss the research process, and highlight the problem of archival silences and histories of forgetting, and of mis- and re-interpretations that haunted these objects and troubled us along the way. Our eventual reconstruction of the wanderings of the objects was therefore based on intensive archival research and historical and art-historical contextualization, as well as etymological research and material analysis. For complex provenance cases like this, such an interdisciplinary approach is indispensable.

Ganga Rajinee Dissanayaka
Lewke’s Cannon: A Visual and Political Dialogue Captured in Gold and Silver
The Lewke cannon was one of the selected items in the Pilot Project Provenance Research on Objects of the Colonial Era launched in 2019. This cannon has gained attention globally because of its unique and unmatched decorations. While its history of being looted from the palace of Kandy has been recorded by various historians, very little attention has been given to the actual decoration on the cannon. This article shows that the decoration and inscription on the outer surface of the cannon were applied as a gift from the prominent Sri Lankan figure Lewke to King Sri Vijaya Rajasinha of Kandy in 1745-46 and as such represents an internal political moment in the Kandyan kingdom. The research into the cannon brings to the fore the Sri Lankan craftsmanship of this eighteenth-century South Asian region. While ancient Lankan motifs have been applied, the craftsmen were able to emphasize the motifs already present in the bronze cast from the seventeenth-century Netherlands, amongst which Lankan emblems, as well as adapt their motifs to better suit the decoration already present. In all, this contribution shows how an analysis of the decoration and the inscription provides us with new insight into the mid-eighteenth-century Sri Lankan social-political and cultural context, while at the same time revealing a global history of cultural diplomacy.

Klaas Stutje
The Diamond from Banjarmasin: A Story in Facets
This article tells the socio-political life story of the Banjarmasin diamond that is on display in the Rijksmuseum’s nineteenth-century colonial room. How the diamond came into the possession of the Dutch in 1859 was not entirely clear, although both in the Netherlands and in Indonesia it is cited as a typical example of ‘war booty’ and ‘looted art’. It is therefore used in debates about contemporary identity formation, like the Dutch approach to their violent colonial past and Indonesian post-colonial nation building. But the stone has more to tell: stories about war and violent subjugation, about resistance and the co-optation of the local rulers, about trade and monopolization and about colonial pretension. On the basis of a provenance report written as part of the Pilot Project Provenance Research on Objects of the Colonial Era, this article aims to shed more light on various moments in the diamond’s life story, from mining to exhibition. This also makes it clear that the present-day debate about its painful history and its possible restitution to Indonesia will be not the conclusion but a brand-new chapter in the diamond’s long socio-political history.

Caroline Drieënhuizen
The Provenance of a Silver Vajrasattva and the Loudon Family
Using historical source material to reconstruct the origin and collecting history of a statuette of a vajrasattva owned by the Loudon family – now in the possession of the Rijksmuseum and selected to be part of the Pilot Project Provenance Research on Objects of the Colonial Era – gives us insights into the function of such objects within particular social groups such as the European colonial elite in Indonesia (to which the Loudon family belonged), the functioning of Dutch (colonial) society and the development of cultural knowledge about the colonized population. This is, however, a limited perspective. It ignores other points of view: it largely excludes the knowledge and insights of the local population, the meanings the object has had for them in the past and present, and people’s agency in these European collecting and knowledge production processes.

Reinier Baarsen
Acquisitions: European Drawings for the Decorative Arts

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