Between Art and Kitsch: Bonnefanten – Artistic Stories – Between Art and Kitsch

Between Art and Kitsch / May 11, 2022

In the broadcast on 11 May 2022 from Het Bonnefanten in Maastricht, Menno Hoencamp appreciates a gold watch with outer shells of shark skin, Karl Stimm holds a late Bronze Age dagger and Paul van Rosmalen takes a closer look at a painting by Blanche Camus.

watch with outer cases
  • Image: Cybele, the goddess of fertility
  • Creator: Samuel Ruel
  • Origin: Rotterdam
  • Dating: approx. 1740
  • Material: Gold, with case, which was later covered with shark skin
  • Dimensions: 5.5 cm diameter

The lady got the watch from her father, he was an avid collector of watches. Both pocket watches and grandfather watches. He was always very proud of this watch. In the late eighties, a number of watches were broken into and stolen, after which he stopped collecting. Since then, they have been in the attic for a long time, about 15 more. They have not examined the value, but it is not important to them either.

Menno Hoencamp: The manufacturer of the watch is Samuel Ruel, who was 92 years old and died in 1782. The best is inside, with beautiful openwork columns. He made the balance wheel so that it looks like a pendulum, like an ode to Christiaan Huygens. It actually had a champs-levée (counter-engraved) gold disc on it. But because the time on the clock is harder to read, an enamel plate was later placed on it. The plate was probably put on it in the nineteenth century. The case has been reupholstered with shark skin instead of rock skin. Rayskin was much more fragile, in the sun it crackles and falls off. Shark skin was much easier to work with and lasted longer. Due to this upgrade of the watch case and also the dial in the nineteenth century, it is unfortunately now a downgrade in value… ..only one third of the value is left.

  • Manufacturer: unknown
  • Origin: Iran
  • Date: Late Bronze Age, Early Iron Age, 1000 BC
  • Material: iron and bronze
  • Dimensions: 37 cm long

Vader bought this dagger ten years ago for 150 euros from an art collector. Two years ago, he sold it on to his son, also a collector, for the same amount. He liked it because the blade is made of iron and has a nice color. He showed it to the National Museum of Ancient Monuments via a photo where they thought it could be a composition. They are especially curious about the story, where does the dagger come from?

Karl Stimm: This dagger is from the late Bronze Age, older Iron Age, around 1000 BC. The handle is made of bronze, the blade is made of iron. Iron was more expensive than gold in the preceding Bronze Age. It was then still difficult to make iron, which was obtained from meteorite. But it was rarely, so expensive. In the handle you see small decorations. The grooves in it ensure that the windings remain attached.

This dagger comes from a region of Iran and can be used for combat but also for hunting. The dagger was not used to prepare food. We do not really know who made this. Back then, nothing was put on paper.

  • Presentation: Mother with parasol and child
  • Maker: Blanche Camus (born 1884)
  • Origin: France
  • Date: 1920s
  • Material: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 68 cm high, 92 cm wide

The aunt of the lord gave this to her mother in her life. It hung with his mother for a long time, he was already happy with it. After her death, he was allowed to have it. It reminds him of France, it is a sunny and cheerful canvas. His grandchildren always see it too. Maybe because of the girl or the cheerful colors that it appeals to children. He had it cleaned once.

Paul van Rosmalen: The painting is made by Blanche Camus. She was an outspoken French female artist and a child of her time, the 1920s. The painting breathes the atmosphere of the French Côte d’azur in all respects, both in terms of composition but also in terms of light and color. She had lived in Saint Tropez since 1906, so this could very well be Saint Tropez Bay.

Her father and sister were well-known botanists specializing in orchids. More importantly, her sister Aimée has been a model for Blanche for many years. So in this painting we probably also see that sister, Aimée. This dress with flowers has also been depicted more often. The sisters were close.

Blanche Camus has remained true to Impressionism. Another group moved toward cubism and abstraction around 1910 with Picasso and Braque. But Blanche Camus remained true to Impressionism, the influence of painters like Matisse can still be seen in her work. It is typically post-impressionism. She was classically educated in Paris in the style of Impressionism. In France around 1900 there were several female artists, Paris was culturally at the forefront of Europe.

A special feature is that on the back is a French label, from which it appears that the painting was exhibited in Holland in 1926. It is possible that the aunt of the mister bought the canvas at that time. She sat at a famous Parisian gallery Bernheim Jeune. Through that channel, her work has been spread all over Europe, but certainly also all over America. She is seen as a ‘petit maître’, a little master.

Sent on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 at 20.35 on NPO 1 (Then the broadcast can be seen again on NPO Start)

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