Perhaps the most fascinating Delft form developed at the time of Queen Mary Stuart (1662-1695) was the so-called tulip vase. These vases have a number of spouts or holes to hold cut flowers, presumably developed during the 'tulipomania' of the 17th century for the then extremely expensive blooms. At one extreme are the vast pyramids which can stand 120 cm. in height, while at the other are small heart-shaped flower holders intended for the table. The majority of the monogram marks found on these vases belong to members of one family, working for de Grieksche A or de Metalen Pot, indicating almost a monopoly on the form.
Queen Mary married the Dutch Stadholder William III and the two were crowned King and Queen of England in 1689. Once they moved across the channel, the prevalent taste in England became predominantly Dutch in spirit. Architecture and decorative arts were set to the Dutch fashion.
Daniel Marot (1663-1752), a Huguenot refugee in Holland, architect and designer, became 'designer general' to William of Orange and was largely responsible for the interior decoration of the Royal Palace at Het Loo. He followed William to England in 1694 and was employed at Hampton Court. The Continental Baroque taste in English design of the period was mainly due to the influence of Marot, who returned to Holland in 1698.
The Queen had a vivid interest in collecting porcelain and earthenware. The Thames, or Watergallery, at Hampton Court was specially transformed to serve as her private apartments and to house a part of her impressive art collections. Daniel Marot designed a range of impressive Delft vases for her and redesigned her gardens. Mary's taste would soon be copied by her courtiers, much to the detriment of their pocketbooks, at the time described as even being injurious to Their Families and Estates in the whole island of Great Britain.
The present vases are of a type that would have been made during these years. Unfortunately, there is no documentation to prove that they ever resided at Hampton Court. As a form, they are most confusing - what should be flower nozzles are not pierced and the covers are fixed. They would appear to be related to a vase of similar in shape in the collection of Erddig Park, a National Trust house in Clwyd, North Wales that has connections to Queen Anne. They may have served as flower vases or equally as incense burners or pots pourris of some sort with the aromatic incense or perfume combined with the smell of flowers.
Their form is completely inspired by the Western Baroque style, with no residue of Chinese influence whatsoever. It is thus plausible that they were based on the drawings of Daniel Marot for Hampton Court. No separate designs by him of vases with tall covers with holes are known, but they are to be seen on prints as ornaments.
Arthur Lane, 'Daniel Marot: Designer of Delft Vases and of Gardens at Hampton Court', The Connoisseur, vol. 123, 1949, pp. 19-24
Michael Archer, Queen Mary's Delft, Exhibition Catalogue, Oude Kunst in de Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, 1983, pp.18-25
Exhibition Catalogue, Delftse tulpenvazen 1680-1720, Gemeente Musea Delft, 1992
A.M.L.E. Erkelens, Queen Mary's 'Delft Porcelain', Ceramics at Het Loo from the time of William and Mary, Zwolle, 1996