Putto with a dog & Putto with a beaker Putto with a dog & Putto with a beaker
Putto with a dog & Putto with a beaker Putto with a dog & Putto with a beaker

Putto with a dog & Putto with a beaker

A Pair of sculptures by Jan Pieter van Baurscheidt the Elder (1669-1728)


Measurements: 92 cm und 90 cm high



The artist Jan Pieter van Baurscheidt the Elder (also: Baurscheit) was born at Wormersdorf near Bonn, Germany, in 1669; today Wormersdorf is a part of the city of Rheinbach. He began as a carpenter’s apprentice and in early life he moved to Antwerp, Flanders, where he changed his mind and worked with the sculptor Pieter Scheemaeckers (1640-1714). In 1694 he joined St Luke’s Guild in Antwerp as a master. One of his sons, Jan Pieter van Baurscheidt the Younger (1699-1768), became an important architect. Baurscheidt was made “King’s Sculptor and Architect” in 1715, after already having been promoted to “wardijn”, or proofmaster, of the Brabant Mint in 1706. He owned the Mechelen commander’s office (Kommandantur), which was part of the Deutschorden (Teutonic Order). 

Among his most well known works we find the bust of Philip V of Spain (1701; Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp), seven figures of the Calvary Mount in St Paul’s, Antwerp, the High Altar of St Michael’s in Gent (Belgium) and the Rosary Altar in St Paul’s, Antwerp. A number of works are in the possession of the Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België in Brussels and in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.



Putto with a dog, fidelity


The proverbial faithfulness of the dog has lead to its becoming a defining symbolic figure in representations of fidelity. In this figure made from sandstone, monogrammed in the plinth (“IPB 1 F” – Jan Pieter Baurscheidt 1 Fecit) the dog accompanies a putto who becomes the embodiment of fidelity and can be seen as a representation of fidelity. As it was carved out of sandstone, the figure was probably meant for outdoor use in a park or garden. The putto also holds a signet (seal-stamp) sporting a coat of arms which is still to be identified.

The problem how a standing figure holds a dog has been cleverly solved by using a tree-stump and a cloth, which, as a motif, also stands for care. The tree-stump shows a smooth bark with crossing streaks, but it doesn’t help very much in the identification. It might either be a birch tree (betulaceae) or a beech (like fagus sylvatica). As one always has to look for possible symbolisms, the beech would indicate security, serenity, and wisdom; in the case of a birch it would be shelter or fecundity, both to complete and enhance the symbolism of the dog.



Putto with a beaker, bacchante



In Richard Strauss’ lied “Heimliche Aufforderung” (Secret invitation, or The Lover’s Pledge) we hear „Auf, hebe die funkelnde Schale empor zum Mund / Und trinke beim Freudenmahle dein Herz gesund“ (Up raise the sparkling cup to your lips / And drink till your heart is healthy at the joyful banquet“). There isn’t any worrying as to the health of this putto’s heart, he drinks joyfully and in no way secretly, raises one beaker, having already emptied another one. His toga appears to be slightly deranged, just being held at the hip by a strap, a kind of fascea. Two beakers may belong together, as so-called double-cups. Usually on has to think in terms of at least two people, but they may also indicate larger parties. If one of the cups is smaller, it is the Ladies’ cup. The bigger one, the Gentlemen’s cup, had, as a rule, to be emptied in one draft. One might assume that this putto already has emptied a couple of cups. And this is what to expect from a bacchante, and one of those we have here. The raised beaker is part of the package; it originally stems from ritual sacrifice scenes.





Adolf Jansen and Charles van Herck: J. P. van Baurscheit I en II. Antwerpsche beedhouwers uit des 18e eeuw, in: Jaarboek van de Koninlijke Oudheidkundige Kring van Antwerpen, (1942) 102-106 (also published as a book).


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