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Large 17th Century Iron Hollandia Pro Patria Fireback c.1690

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Large 17th Century Iron Hollandia Pro Patria Fireback c.1690

SHORT DESCRIPTION
The design of this large and original 17th Century firebackcelebrates the unification of the Dutch provinces in 1648 and the birth William III in 1650. A similar design is recorded in 1581 on the Declaration of Independence.
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DIMENSIONS
29 inches high, 22 inches wide and 0.5 inches deep. For metric please multiply by 2.5
DATED
c.1690

 
FULL DESCRIPTION
The design of this large and original 17th Century firebackcelebrates the unification of the Dutch provinces in 1648 and the birth William III in 1650. A similar design is recorded in 1581 on the Declaration of Independence.

The rectangular back inscribed “Pro Patria” (for the fatherland) and the arch above “Hollandia”.

The figure of the Maid of Dort (the Dutch equivalent of Britannia) is seated within a wooden palisade holding a hat on a spear to indicate Holland surrounded by her fortified frontiers maintaining liberty by force of arms. The lion rampart (also representing Holland) carries a sword and holds a bundle of arrows as he stands ready to repel invaders. The pomegranate border symbolising many under one authority.

Although of Dutch design this fireback would almost certainly have been made in Germany, probably Siegerland, and this example was made around 1690. It is crisply cast and of an early fine form with scallop shells to the upper border.

This design was frequently reproduced in the 19th Century and 20th century and the castings are consistently of poorer quality with limited definition. The fire backs themselves are thick and extremely heavy. Throughout the 19th century dolphins often replace the scallop shells and other variations in this position indicate a far later date.

Such firebacks were imported to Britain from the late 1660s and in increasing numbers when William III (William of Orange) became King of England, Ireland and Scotland in 1689. “William of Orange” who later became King of England.

With some losses, a crack and depletions to the lower margin consistent with age but in completely usable, stable and original condition, not re-finished.