Beaker Maker: Cornelius Vander Burgh (American, 1653–1699)


American Decorative Arts

On view, 1st floor, American Decorative Arts before 1900

Stately in size and brimming with engraved decoration, this beaker is one of the most intriguing pieces of silver made in colonial New York. It was commissioned from Cornelius Vander Burgh, a silversmith of Dutch and German heritage, by Robert Livingston, a Scottish-born merchant based in Albany. Livingston presented it to Robert Sandersen of Schenectady, New York, in 1685, likely as a token of gratitude after Sandersen had served as an interpreter for Livingston during land negotiations with the Iroquois. Although the shape of the beaker is based on seventeenth-century Dutch ecclesiastical silver, the allegorical scenes reference the more worldly virtues of integrity, humility, and magnanimity, presumably qualities Livingston valued in a business associate like Sandersen. The vignettes were adapted from engravings by the Dutch artist Adriaen van de Venne for a book of allegorical poems and mottoes compiled by Jacob Cats and first published in Holland in 1618. That both patron and recipient of this beaker would have recognized the messages its decoration conveyed shows the lasting influence of Dutch culture on New York even after Britain took control of the colony from the Netherlands in 1664.




H. 8 × Diam. 4 13/16 in. (20.3 × 12.2 cm), 15 oz., 14 dwt. (488 g)
base: Diam. 3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm)

Credit Line

Mabel Brady Garvan Collection

Accession Number



17th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Originally owned by Robbert Sandersen (1641- ca. 1691), Schenectady County, NY; The Sanders family, Scotia, NY; Francis P. Garvan, New York (1930); gift in 1932 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • American Art: Selections from the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2023), 42–43, no. 2, ill
  • Helen A. Cooper et al., Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008), 42–43, no. 11, ill
  • Susan B. Matheson, Art for Yale: A History of the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2001), 98–99, fig. 89
  • Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 99, ill
  • Harold Newman, An Illustrated Dictionary of Silverware (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1987), 35, ill
  • Graham Hood, American Silver: A History of Style, 1650–1900 (New York: Praeger, 1971), 29, 31, fig. 9
  • Martha Gandy Fales, Early American Silver for the Cautious Collector (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1970), 9, fig. 7
  • Kathryn C. Buhler and Graham Hood, American Silver in the Yale University Art Gallery, 2 vols. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1970), vol. 2, p. 9, no. 553, ill
  • New York Silversmiths of the Seventeenth Century, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of the City of New York, 1962), no. 73, pl. 5
  • Masterpieces of American Silver: The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, January 15–February 14, 1960, exh. cat. (Richmond, Va.: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1960), 80–81, no. 217, ill
  • John Marshall Phillips, Early American Silver Selected from the Mabel Garvan Collection, Yale University (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1960), no. 7, ill
  • Kathryn C. Buhler, French, English, and American Silver, exh. cat. (Minneapolis: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1956), 78, no. 293, fig. 33
  • Kathryn C. Buhler, Colonial Silversmiths, Masters and Apprentices, exh. cat. (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1956), 86, no. 253
  • John Marshall Phillips, "The Mabel Brady Garvan Collection of Silver at Yale University," Connoisseur Year Book (1953), 69, pl. 6, ill
  • John Marshall Phillips, "Masterpieces in American Silver; Part I, Seventeenth-Century Traditions," Antiques vol. 54, no. 6 (December 1948), 412, ill
  • John Marshall Phillips, "Outstanding Examples from the Mabel Brady Garvan Collections," Bulletin of the Associates in Fine Arts at Yale University 8, no. 2 (February 1938), 40, ill
  • V. Isabelle Miller, Silver by New York Makers, Late 17th Century to 1900, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of the City of New York, 1937), 32, no. 316, ill
  • Katherine B. Hastings, "The Sanders-Garvan Beaker by Cornelis VanderBurch," Antiques 27, no. 2 (February 1935), 52–55, fig. 1
  • Clara Louise Avery, An Exhibition of Early New York Silver, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1931), fig. 76
  • Clara Louise Avery, Early American Silver (New York: The Century Co., 1930), 134–35, 161
  • A. W. McNeil, "A Pedigreed American Silver Beaker," Antiques 15, no. 5 (May 1929), 388–90
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

beakers (drinking vessels)


"CV" over "B" in heart on bottom


"Robbert Sandersen / 1685" engraved on side; "RS" under cross, all conjoined, on bottom

Technical metadata and APIs


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