Baarsen, R. Nederlandse Meubelen 1600-1800
, Amsterdam, 1993, pp. 36-39.
Baarsen, R. Herman Doomer en de Amsterdamse ebbenhoutwerkers
, in: Wonen in de Gouden Eeuw
, Amsterdam, 2007, pp. 80-109.
Van Thiel, P., Kops Bruyn, Johannes Cornelis, Framing in the Golden Age: Picture and Frame in 17th-century Holland
, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, 1995.
Breebaart, I., G. van Gerwen, Pressed baleen and fan-shaped ripple mouldings by Herman Doomer
, in: Eleventh international Symposium on Wood and Furniture Conservation, Amsterdam 9-10 November 2012, pp. 62-74.
Cabinet maker, frame maker and ivory carver Herman Doomer (c. 1595-1650) was born in Anrath in Germany and lived and worked in Amsterdam from 1613 until his death in 1650. He specialised in ebony, a tropical wood relatively easy to obtain in the commercial hub of Amsterdam. In 1613 Herman Doomer started working as an apprentice to the ebbenhoutwerker
David Stafmaecker, who begun working ebony in Amsterdam in 1590, and claimed to have taught all those active in this craft in 1625. The name Stafmaecker alludes to the limited uses that ebony was put to in the late 16th century - mainly staffs, small objects and decorative elements for furniture. In the early 17th century the VOC started importing larger quantities of this exotic wood and larger pieces of furniture began to appear - such as armchairs, picture frames and caskets. With this new development these ebony workers started using ebony veneers on oak carcasses, which brought them into conflict with the St Joseph's guild of cabinetmakers. This led to the creation of the ebony workers guild in 1626, after Stafmaecker refuted the protests from the cabinetmaker's guild stating that in order to work ebony and other tropical woods one needed totally different tools, Stafmaecker submitted his protest on behalf of Jan Willemsz. Bus, Herman Doomer and other ebony workers. This document shows that by 1625 Doomer already plays a prominent role within the group of Amsterdam ebony workers.
Picture frames were the main product at Doomer’s workshop. In fact Doomer probably also supplied frames to Rembrandt: in 1640, Rembrandt painted portraits of Herman Doomer and his wife Baertje Martens (now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the pendant of his wife in the State Hermitage in St Petersburg). It is an indication of his success as a cabinetmaker that he was able to afford portraits by one of the most famous and expensive artists of the day.
The Rijksmuseum possesses several pieces by (or attributed to) Doomer, including an elaborately inlaid cupboard, a table cabinet and a mirror frame. The mirror frame incorporating ‘kwab’ style baleen plaques with putti, animals and scrolling foliage - motifs copied from prints after designs by Hans Janssen that were published in Amsterdam around 1625 - very similar to the plaques on the present casket. The present casket was also included in a recent study regarding Doomer’s specific use of pressed baleen and ripple mouldings and based on thorough technical and stylistic analysis the authors consider the attribution to Hermann Doomer as very likely (Breebaart, van Gerwen, op. cit, p. 65, ill. 12).