Cf. A.M.L.E. Erkelens, Ceramics at Het Loo from the time of William and Mary (Zwolle 1996), p.77-80 for tulipières with the monogram of King-Stadholder William III.
Probably only seven of this type of tulipvases have been produced. Six are recorded in literature, as descibed in the following text.
"As a Promotional gift to an English nobleman"
The monogram WR, Wilhelmus Rex, makes it clear that the bust represents William III King-Stadholder. Monograms of William, from the period when he and his wife Mary were king and queen of England, usually comprise a combination of the letters W, M and R. The monogram without the M indicates that the vase dates from after 1695, the year in which Mary died.
This corresponds to the story that has survived that in 1695 two similar vases but with floral backs were given by William to Robert Spencer, second Earl of Sunderland (1641-1702), forebear to the late Princess Diana. The King-Stadholder made a journey through England in that year from 17 October to 10 November, The Royal Progress, both to see parts of the country but also to honour a number of Whig nobles with his visit and to predispose them towards him. The most important of these nobles was Lord Spencer. William was received by him with all the requisite pomp and harmony and in the end stayed a week instead of four days at his house Althorp. The weather was good and the days were spent hunting. The vases that were possibly given as a promotional gift by William on this occasion, are still to be found at Althorp House.
The vase at Het Loo, Apeldoorn, with floral back, was offered for sale at auction in 1940 in London and was possibly a gift of the King-Stadholder to one of the other nobles whom he visited in 1695. This could mean that William commissioned not only at De Grieksche A but also at De Metalen Pot or De Dobbelde Schenckan.
The vase at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, with a similar fountain ornament to the back.
The vase at the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Cologne, with the monogram WR replaced by a cherub and a floral back.
A vase with monogram WR, only known from photograph, with a helmet instead of a bust.
op.cit. above p.78-80
The lions together with the Roman bust and the acanthus leaves are among the features of Western vase ornaments. The figure in the middle of the foot has been taken from Chinese porcelain. The dolphin fountain has been inspired by Le Nôtre, the French Court garden architect, whom was promoted by Daniel Marot in the Netherlands.
See illustration of front and back