Todd van Hulzen shares his scans and files from historic sources
Those of you who have worked with us will know that our offices are in the Lutmastraat in Amsterdam. But do you know who Johannes Lutma was? Johannes Lutma, with Adam and Paul van Vianen, was one of the silversmiths that developed a peculiar new style in the 17th century: the Auricular style.
The auricular style or lobate style (Dutch: Kwabstijl) is a style of ornamental decoration, mainly found in Northern Europe in the first half of the 17th century, bridging Northern Mannerism and the Baroque. The style was especially important and effective in silversmithing, but was also used in minor architectural ornamentation such as door and window reveals, and a wide variety of the decorative arts. It uses softly flowing abstract shapes in relief, sometimes asymmetrical, whose resemblance to the side view of the human ear gives it its name, or at least its “undulating, slithery and boneless forms that occasionally carry a suggestion of the inside of an ear or a conch shell (according to Osborne in The Oxford Companion to Decorative Arts). It is often associated with stylized marine animal forms. It is common to see ambiguous masks and shapes that might or might not be mollusks or jellyfish, which seem to emerge from the rippling, fluid background, as if the silver remained in its molten state.
It can be found in the designs of Hans Vredeman de Vries in the Netherlands, and was used most effectively in the hands of the Utrecht silversmiths Paul and Adam van Vianen, and Paul’s pupil Lutma. Lutma’s greatest work is perhaps the brass choir screen in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. In my view a monument that has not achieved the renown that it deserves.
Here is a set of designs created by van Vianen, Lutma and Gerbrand van de Eckhout. Most of these are scanned from a portfolio in my own collection.