Dutch cameo ap­pear­ance at mar­itime mu­seum

Fremantle Gazette - - NEWS - Pic­ture: Matt Jelonek

A 1700-YEAR-OLD arte­fact once owned by em­per­ors and kings has been un­veiled at the Mar­itime Mu­seum, the clos­est it has been to the Batavia since it was aboard the ship when it wrecked off the WA coast in 1629.

Pre­sented to the Em­peror Con­stan­tine in 312AD to cel­e­brate his vic­tory at Mil­vian Bridge, the cameo has been lost to his­tory at least twice – after the death of the em­peror and again when the Batavia crashed into the Abrol­hos Is­lands.

The Nether­lands’ Na­tional Mu­seum of An­tiq­ui­ties en­graved gems as­sis­tant cu­ra­tor Ben van den Ber­cken said the cameo had changed hands many times in its life, with own­ers in­clud­ing the artist Peter Paul Rubens and traders and fam­i­lies through Europe and Asia be­fore again be­ing pre­sented as a gift, this time to Dutch king Wil­liam I in 1823.

“Rubens had en­grav­ings made of the cameo for a book he worked on with an Ital­ian scholar and after that it was shipped to the East Indies as a present to the Mughal Em­pire but it never got there of course; the Batavia was ship­wrecked,” he said.

“Since 1823 it has been in the col­lec­tion of the royal coin cab­i­net in The Hague right up un­til 2004 when it ar­rived in the col­lec­tion of the Na­tional Mu­seum of An­tiq­ui­ties. It’s rare that it leaves The Nether­lands.

“As far as I know in re­cent his­tory it’s been to Aus­tralia twice, to Syd­ney, but as far as I’m aware it hasn’t been ex­hib­ited out­side The Nether­lands.

“I think this is prob­a­bly one of the best ex­hi­bi­tions it could go to.

“The ex­hi­bi­tion is a su­perb set­ting for this and right now the cameo has never been closer to the wreck of the Batavia.”

The cameo is part of the Trav­ellers and Traders in the In­dian Ocean World ex­hi­bi­tion.

It is fea­tur­ing at the Mar­itime Mu­seum un­til April 23.

Www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d464137

An ad­di­tion to the WA Mar­itime Mu­seum is un­veiled by Ben van den Ber­cken from the Na­tional Mu­seum of An­tiq­ui­ties of Lei­den.

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