November 24, 2014

The art and science of locked letters on video

Filed under: History,Science by Orangemaster @ 5:57 pm

The Historical Museum of The Hague is currently holding an exhibition entitled ‘Courtly Rivals: Elizabeth Stuart and Amalia van Solms’ that features locked letters of the 17th century. The letters have been brought to life thanks to some videos made by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). MIT Libraries’ conservator, Jana Dambrogio and others helped film six videos on the science of 17th century letterlocking.

‘Courtly Rivals’ is based on Dutch professor Nadine Akkerman’s publication by the same name, exploring the tense relationship between two of the most influential women in the Dutch Republic during the 17th century – Elizabeth Stuart, sometime Queen of Bohemia and her former lady-in-waiting Amalia von Solms, who became Princess of Orange in 1625. Elizabeth’s corpus of over 2,000 letters shows she was an astute politician, with a vast network of kings, queens, generals, ministers, church leaders, courtiers, and spies. Amalia’s correspondence has just come to light, but it appears she was no different. Both ladies, their secretaries, and their correspondents resorted to intricate methods to lock their letters shut.


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May 12, 2012

Portrait of a red cabbage

Filed under: Art,Food & Drink by Branko Collin @ 12:02 pm

Margaretha de Heer painted this red cabbage sometime during the seventeenth century (she lived from 1600 – 1665 in Groningen and Leeuwarden).

The painting fetched 61,000 euro at an auction at Christie’s in Amsterdam last Tuesday, three times the price that was originally expected. says the auction house had several explanations for the high price. For one, it is the only antique painting depicting a red cabbage. For another, it was painted by a woman, which seems to have been unusual in the age of guilds.

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