Design & Decoration S03 ep10 : Mieke Zilverberg, Zilverberg Antiques, [Amsterdam]
Interview with Mieke Zilverberg
Egyptian and classical antiquities, Greek and Roman coins. Mieke Zilverberg is boardmember of I.A.D.A.A. - International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art."
My name is Mika Zilverberg, I’m an archaeologist and dealer in antiquities based in Amsterdam.
The gymnasium [High School] school, I got in touch with art history and I was thrilled by the
pyramids, the … this Greek sculpture I did high scores on archaeology so it was from the start love
at first sight. But you couldn’t do that at that time in … and study just archaeology you had to
study Greek and Latin as well.
What I really wanted to know is what was then and what is now, everything is based in ancient
times, we still eat with fork and knife and it started early this knife thing, we still use the wine
glasses and they originated in the 2nd Century AD by the Romans and we still use it and that is
really what fascinated me.
Any my Professor had a request for an assistant an art fair like this but then the very famous Delft
Art Fair, it’s one of the first after the Second World War. He said you’re capable for that, you
should go, it’s for three weeks, you earn a little bit of money and you learn a lot, so I did and that
worked very fine, I had them in my hands the objects for the first time in my life.
I planned to go for teaching Greek, Latin or at university, archaeology but then this is so much
People which I was assisting at the art fair when I was still studying they had a fantastic pneumatic
gallery, very old one about 100 years old from family to family, they ask me to build up a
department for antiquities.
We always start going to the auctions, the auctions in London, in New York, in Paris, in Basal that
were then the basis where you could find the pieces. People came with their objects from for
instance Syria, at that time it was legal, there were no laws on that from the 90’s onwards we
combined our forces, we put up IADA, the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art,
then politics came aware what happened in those countries.
You have to know so much of styles, techniques, arts and surroundings the what is Greek, what is
Roman, what is … now you have to look not for only what is genuine or not, you have to look what
is the provenance this is very important but that’s because of the laws that’s installed and which is
You want the best for your clients, your, as to say the sea for your clients, so you have to know
more than they know but trust is the most important thing.
Since I come from an antiquities museum, archaeological museum in Amsterdam it was for me
important to find a piece that I could place there, I knew the people very well, they were friends
and I studied there, so I came across a Kouros sculpture like this and I bought it and then I wanted
to sell it to them but they didn’t have the funds and so I decided to keep it for them, they find the
money and it took two years and then they could buy it and I was so proud because it was a period
which was lacking in the museums in Holland.
I hate digging, I’m in the study, I want to find out what came out from the soil from the ground and
that’s then I’m in my spirits.
My real focus in studies was in Truscan the Truscan 6th Century BC vases because my Professor
told me so, he said I’m researching a part of Greek vases and I think the source goes back to the
Truscan 6th Century, something like that and I said but I want something with architecture, no he
said, that field is covered fully, and I said okay, okay I’ll look into it and it’s ever been a thrill for
me since then.
You need superficial knowledge about everything at least from the ancient world because you can
make you associate like the Greeks in the statutes they learned it from the Egyptian sculpture, if
you don’t know you look the wrong way then you can find the lines from the real origins up til now
and that is my fascination.
In the earlier periods the mummy was mummified and then put in a sarcophagus but later on when
the Egyptian economy in the first millennium went down they couldn’t do that any more it was too
expensive and so what they did they only made mummy mask cartonage and pieces on the body
but just separate pieces and only for the feet and the funny thing is it’s just sort of a hood over the
ankles and the feet but the underside of this case is even more important because it’s the soul is so
wonderful decorated you really you’re stunned if you see it.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Mieke Zilverberg, Zilverberg Antiques, Amsterdam