New publication about Chinese and Japanese porcelain for the Dutch Golden age

Gemeentemuseum collaborates in new international publication about Chinese and Japanese porcelain for the Dutch Golden age
06/23/2014

A brand new international publication about Chinese and Japanese porcelain from the Dutch Golden age have been presented in the Netherlands today. Publisher De Kunst Uitgeverij, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Rijksmuseum, Keramiekmuseum Princessehof, Leeuwarden and Groninger Museum have collaborated for this special publication. As the owner of a large collection of porcelain and the largest and finest collection of Delftware in the world, the Gemeentemuseum is happy to contribute to this prestigious publication.

The participating museums have long wanted to make an international publication that contributed to the global research field of Chinese ceramics. The new book seeks to address questions as: how did the Republic become so prosperous so quickly, and why did the Dutch get involved in the long-distance overseas trade? How was the supply of porcelain organised? What were the opportunities available for Chinese porcelain decorators and porcelain dealers? And how popular was porcelain before the VOC imported it in cargoes? The role of Japanese porcelain also comes up for discussion: firstly as a substitute for Chinese porcelain; later as a welcome and high-quality addition to the Chinese porcelain supply.

Chinese porcelain and Delftware
The Dutch East India Company (VOC) started shipping Chinese porcelain to the Netherlands in the early seventeenth century. The shiny surface, amazing decoration and exotic shapes of the new ceramics captured the public imagination but only the wealthy could afford to buy them. The existing Delft earthenware industry took up the challenge and strove to produce pottery that looked exactly like oriental porcelain. The sophisticated and luxurious product that resulted was seen as the best possible alternative to the genuine thing. It was even referred to as Delft ‘porceleyn’.

Delftware Wonderware
From the well-known ‘Blue Delft’ to gaudy multi-coloured examples, from simple plates to intriguing tulip holders – and even a modern Miffy moneybox. Dutch delftware is an iconic product often regarded as a symbol of the Netherlands’ seventeenth-century Golden Age. Yet little of it is ever on show in Dutch museums. The permanent presentation ‘Delftware Wonderware’ in the Gemeentemuseum gives visitors ‘flesh-and-blood’ access to the product’s fascinating 400-year history. An installation shows how even contemporary designers find inspiration in this major cultural legacy of the past.

The publication ‘Chinese and Japanese porcelain for the Dutch Golden age’ is a collaboration between De Kunst Uitgeverij, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Rijksmuseum, Keramiekmuseum Princessehof, Leeuwarden and Groninger Museum. The exhibition Delftware Wonderware is the product of a unique collaboration with Aronson Antiquairs.