The Rijksmuseum 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 information on subscriptions or proposals, see https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/research/the-rijksmuseum-bulletin.
The Rijksmuseum Bulletin, volume 67 (2019), issue 1
CONTENTS AND ABSRACTS
Nataraja Informed through Text and Technique:
A Study of the Monumental Indian Bronze at the Rijksmuseum
ANNA A. SLACZKA, SARA CREANGE AND JOOSJE VAN BENNEKOM
The imposing Chola-period bronze Shiva Nataraja at the Rijksmuseum is a product of the living tradition of metal casting established over a thousand years ago in the region of Tamil Nadu. Purchased in 1935 from a Parisian dealer, it is one of the highlights of the collection belonging to the Royal Asian Art Society in the Netherlands, which is exhibited at the Rijksmuseum. The interdisciplinary study presented here links an art historical investigation of ancient texts and scholarly literature with scientific analysis in an attempt to refine the art historical context and at the same time flesh out what is known about the fabrication and provenance of the Nataraja in the Rijksmuseum. The Nataraja was cast by the lost-wax method; x-ray images confirm that the Shiva is solid-cast together with the halo. X-ray fluorescence reveals an alloy consistent with other Chola-period bronzes but not necessarily a pañcaloha alloy (five metals), which seems to be a modern tradition; the front hands were apparently cast on separately as a repair, probably during casting or not long after. Further evidence gathered from the sculpture and its soil encrustations (ICP-MS lead and neodymium isotope ratios, SEM-EDX and XRD) is briefly presented, and supports earlier assumptions about the Nataraja. It appears to date from the twelfth century and was under worship for a relatively short time before it was buried at an unknown location in India. The presence of Indian earth and corrosion products typical of burial imply that it did not re-enter a temple context for worship and was not subject to major restoration before entering the art market in the early twentieth century.
Charity after the Flood:
The Rijksmuseum’s St Elizabeth and St Elizabeth’s Flood Altar Wings
HANNEKE VAN ASPEREN
This essay reconsiders the panels in the Rijksmuseum’s collection depicting the St Elizabeth’s Flood in 1421. When they were removed from the church, the panels – once the outsides of the two wings of an altarpiece – were taken out of their original context, and the subsequent separation of the panels’ obverse and reverse further obscured the original arrangement. The image itself provides important clues to its meaning with visual references to images of the Deluge, Christ’s Passion and Last Judgement. Most importantly, the flood panels should be studied in close relation to the life of St Elizabeth of Hungary, once depicted on the inside of the wings. Painted several decades after the flood, the panels do not render the catastrophe realistically. Instead, the image focuses on charity after the flood disaster when Dordrecht gave shelter to the victims and so followed the virtuous example of St Elizabeth. As an image of Dordrecht’s charity, the flood panels perfectly fit the religious context of the Grote Kerk for which they were once designed.
The Face of the Female Voltaire:
Nicolaas Verkolje’s Portrait of Christina Leonora de Neufville (1713-1781)
LIEKE VAN DEINSEN
DIRK JAN BIEMOND, JAN VAN CAMPEN, GIOVANNI PAOLO DI STEFANO, MENNO FITSKI, JENNY REYNAERTS, FRITS SCHOLTEN, EVELINE SINT NICOLAAS, WILLIAM A. SOUTHWORTH, MATTHIAS UBL AND CHING-LING WANG