Christie's charge a premium to the buyer on the final bid price of each lot sold at the following rates: 23.8% of the final bid price of each lot sold up to and including €150,000 and 14.28% of any amount in excess of €150,000. Buyers' premium is calculated on the basis of each lot individually.
How Dutch was the Dutch interior?
For centuries, the Netherlands has been a trading nation with an extensive international network both in Europe and across the oceans. Consequently, Dutch applied art has found its way into all corners of the world. One example that springs to my mind is the wealth of Amsterdam silver that was brought as embassy gifts on the occasion of visits to the Russian tsar, and is still on display within the walls of the Kremlin for visitors to admire today. Or the huge service that the Bohemian prince Lobkowicz ordered around 1685 from renowned Delftware factory De Metalen Pot in Delft, which is kept in the family castle, Nelahozeves. Consider, too, how far Dutch tiles have travelled. In Portugal, they are even used to decorate the outside of buildings. But that's still practically in our backyard. In the Indonesian city of Cirebon on Java, for example, Biblical themed Dutch tiles cover the walls of the home of a local sultan who was probably completely unaware of the meaning of the Christian depictions.
Conversely, thanks in part to this longstanding tradition of international involvement, in the Netherlands there has always been an interest for foreign products. Sometimes, these imports created so much competition for native Dutch artisans that they attempted to introduce cheaper imitations on the market. This occurred in response to the increasing popularity of Asian porcelain, for example. Trade with Asia really took off with the establishment of the Dutch East India Company in 1602, and with it the supply of Chinese and Japanese porcelain as well as lacquer ware. Initially, these exotic products found their way to prosperous admirers. Special rooms in the courts of the stadholders were filled with these treasures, with vast numbers of vases and bowls arranged symmetrically on shelves and mantles. A similar type of arrangement, based on designs by Daniel Marot, can still be seen in Palace Het Loo. Eventually, however, Asian porcelain collecting became popular in less prominent circles, too. A publication from 1735 denouncing the foolishness of man referred to the practice as the 'hobby of some bourgeois women, who ruin their husbands by stuffing cabinets with old porcelain'. For generations, overcrowded porcelain cabinets were the pride of every affluent farming family in the Frisian countryside.
Attempts by the Delft potteries, and later their Frisian counterparts, too, to make earthenware imitations of Oriental porcelain proved successful and lucrative for quite some time. The craftsmen were able to skilfully copy the exotic patterns, first in blue and then also in the Imari porcelain colour scheme. In the end, practically all of the Delft workshops closed after other foreign ceramic products took the Dutch market by storm. The import of English creamware from companies such as Wedgwood proved particularly disastrous. As early as 1765, a mere matter of a few years since the large-scale company started production, the following statement was made in England: 'Formerly the Englishman had eaten his meal off plates made at Delft in Holland, now the Dutch were already using Staffordshire plates'. Interest in this new product spread quickly, partly due to efforts on the part of Lambertus van Veldhuysen, Wedgwood's distributor in Amsterdam, who helped promote the items available for delivery through an extensive catalogue published in Dutch.
Various sources indicate that the Dutch were also interested in ceramic products from other European countries in the 18th century. After the arcanum or secret of porcelain production was discovered in Meissen, production increased there around 1730, and porcelain factories opened in other places too. In the Netherlands, 'commissioners' handled the sales of this German porcelain. This relatively expensive alternative to Asian porcelain was embraced by the upper echelons of society, who were put off by the mass popularity of the Asian products. The preference for German and later also French porcelain was so great that attempts to develop similar Dutch porcelain production in towns such as Weesp, Loosdrecht and along the Amstel, met with little commercial success.
The inventory taken in 1765 of stadholder Willem IV's mother princess Marie Louise von Hessen Kassel's legacy, gives a good impression of the origin of the ceramics in her collection. The princess, who was known in Friesland as Marijke-Meu, had amassed not only a huge amount of blue and polychrome Oriental porcelain, but cabinets were also filled with Saxon and other European porcelain, as well as English creamware. Additionally, there were all sorts of objects from abroad that were less likely to be found in a Dutch household. These unusual items included a stack of 'green dessert plates from Kassel' and services from Brussels and Hanau earthenware; also, 'a Rouen set of seven pieces' and 'a Marseille slop bowl' were discovered among the earthenware in her country estate, Oranjewoud.
Ceramics were not the only objects from all over the world found in Dutch households. In the 18th century, there was also a great deal of interest in furniture, interior textiles and other types of applied art from abroad. In fact, sometime around 1770 the import of French furniture 'according to the latest style' posed such a threat to native furniture makers that the guilds in centres such as Amsterdam and The Hague urged local governments to place a ban on these imports.
During the 18th century, high quality drinking glasses were no longer produced in large amounts in Holland. Most were imported from England, and to a lesser degree the Southern Netherlands, Germany or Bohemia. However, Holland boasted a group of exceptionally talented artists who specialised in decorating glass using various different techniques. Interestingly enough, the examples that they used for ornaments and depictions were based largely on South German graphics.
The application of precious metals and base metals in applied art was done differently. Local manufacturers were used for producing most implements made of these materials, certainly in the 18th century. Of course, silver showpiece items were still being imported in sizable quantities from German centres such as Nürnberg and Augsburg throughout the 17th century. However, sales of these were widely prohibited, partly due to the fact that the silver content fell short of Dutch requirements. The items could only be sold at annual fairs. Nevertheless, this German silver was obviously popular: this can be seen in still life paintings and other works by Dutch masters, who regularly portrayed these objects alongside other typical Dutch treasures.
It was already mentioned how in the 17th century Dutch architects, designers and craftsmen active in the various types of applied art had already begun attempting to imitate the look and decorations of cherished products from other countries, and to apply these in a way that fitted in with traditions at home. This manifested itself early on with the reproduction of the tin-glazed earthenware maiolica, which originated in Italy, and was produced in various places. The boom in Delft potteries was the result of a successful attempt to imitate Chinese and Japanese porcelain in earthenware.
The end of the 17th century heralded a new phenomenon when the French court's taste became the authoritative guideline for the rest of Europe. The opinions on decoration, ornamentation and use of materials that developed in France underwent a significant stylistic change during the 18th century. It is surprising how closely these changes were followed and adopted. We can see that the new French fashion caught on fastest in The Hague, with its aristocratic elite in the stadholders' court, and Amsterdam, with its wealthy merchant class. These styles, often in extremely watered-down versions, continued to remain in fashion in the provinces for several generations.
Sometimes, French designers who were aware of the latest trends, would even come to the Netherlands to offer their services. Such was the case with Daniel Marot, who was forced to leave his native country on account of his religious beliefs, and who received high profile commissions from king-stadholder William III. Additionally, prints by French artists were sold in our country that served as inspiration for interior decoration and the required accoutrements. The ornament prints by artists such as Juste Auréle Meissonnier helped spread the rococo style, which is characterised by fanciful, shell-inspired curving patterns. Incidentally, the Dutch interpretations of this style do not fully agree with the illustrative examples; only certain elements were used. A number of series of prints by De Neufforge and Delafosse, the latter of which even had a Dutch edition, helped pave the way for neoclassicism in the Netherlands. This also explains the previously mentioned affinity with Wedgwood products, which were often based on examples from antiquity.
This publication emphasises the tremendous volume and diversity of foreign applied art that has inundated the Dutch market since the 17th century. It bears witness to how our own artists and craftsmen were influenced as a result. The prosperity of the Netherlands createdd an enormous need for valuable decorative and functional objects distinguished by outstanding artistic quality and craftsmanship. These objects are still in great demand among museums, collectors and enthusiasts alike, for exactly the same reasons!
Dr. Johan R. ter Molen
Palace Het Loo National Museum, Apeldoorn
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