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Hugo Maertens
©DIVA, Museum voor Edelsmeedkunst, Juwelen en Diamant Antwerpen  

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Hugo Maertens
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Hugo Maertens
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Fully moulded holy water font on a copper base depicting Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Signed and dated on the back: J.P.A. Verschuylen fec. / Antverpiae 1833. Verschuylen may have derived inspiration for this holy-water font from a print by Jan Van Orley (1665-1735) in the New Testament series. The carved pulpit (1772) by Laurent Delvaux (1696-1778) in St Gertrudis Church in Nivelles and the pulpit (c. 1750) by the Antwerp sculptor Gaspard-Melchior Moens in the Church of Our Lady in Hoboken may also have inspired the silversmith. The City Print Collection in Antwerp contains an anonymous eighteenth-century sketch for a pulpit (inv. 1645, Dieltiens collection), which in concept closely resembles the holy-water font. The question is whether or not Verschuylen knew this sketch. (Source: The Sterckshof Collection, 2003)

In the past Antwerp city council had gifts made for various reasons. They were often expressions of appreciation for special services rendered and sometimes they were very prestigious gifts. This monumental holy water stoup is thought to have been gifted to King Leopold I on his Joyful Entry into the city shortly after 1830. It is not clear whether he actually used the piece.