Rozenburg, Den Haag, 1899
A rare and early eggshell porcelain wall dish, decorated with a painting of the St. Nicolaas Church (‘kerk’) in Edam, diameter 23 cm, work order number 609, 19 May 1899. Painted by Schellink, van Dam, Muylwijk, Hartgring, Harking and Schoonhoven. After a drawing from “Oude Hollandsche steden aan de Zuiderzee” (Old Dutch towns by the Zuiderzee), 1897.
The dish was displayed at the World Fair Parijs in 1900, see also: eggshell wall dish St.Nicolaaskerk Monnikendam
The Rozenburg Delftware Factory started manufacturing their world famous eggshell porcelain in the week of March 3rd, 1899. The number 292 was the painters’ first order number and in the following months they mostly painted tea and coffee services. Order number 609 of this plate stems from the week of March 12th, 1899. In the following 2 months, from 317 order numbers, only 60 were allotted for the painting of eggshell porcelain. The emphasis at the time was still on the production of earthenware, mainly tiles and plaques.
It is likely that a lot of the time was spent on experimenting to get the right composition of the porcelain biscuit, as can be seen on the two plates in our collection. One is cast a little thinner than the other plate, and even the composition of the biscuit seems different.
In the order number 609, 6 wall plates model 74p were painted, by Schellink, Van Dam, Muylwijk, Hargring, Harking and Schoonhoven.
Even though the work order books are very detailed (we can find that the total cost price of these wall plates model 74p is fl 5,60 a piece), they lack a description detailing which decors were painted under what order number. However, it is highly likely that order number 609 consisted of 6 different decors, making it probable that these are unique plates.
About the decoration.
Rozenburg was to take part in the Paris World Fair in April 1900. This meant not only that the entire production of the eggshell porcelain was reserved* for the Fair, but also that from its start of production in March 1899, the factory wanted to display ‘typical Dutch’ decors, like a calling card. After all, more than 50 million visitors from all over the world were going to attend!
A few years earlier, in 1897, an immensely popular publication appeared, titled ‘Old Dutch towns by the Zuiderzee’, with beautiful drawings and woodcuts. Copyright as we know it today wasn’t implemented until 1912, so many people copied like no tomorrow. Rozenburg too took ‘inspiration’ from the ‘glossy’ of yesteryear and copied the drawings onto the eggshell plates – well, it was for the World’s Fair!
About ‘Old Dutch towns by the Zuiderzee’
This is one of the book-printing highlights of the period. Cover, title page, border decoration and capitals are printed with wooden blocks, cut by Veldheer. The topographical views have been printed using zincographics, after drawings by Nieuwenkamp and Veldheer. W.J. Tuyn made the text for Edam and Monnickendam. De page size images are of Monnickendam (4x), Edam (4x), Hoorn (4x), Enkhuizen (6x) and Medemblik (2x). A sequel was published in 1900: ‘Old Dutch villages by the Zuiderzee’, including work by Veldheer. Both parts were published together in one English-language volume in 1901.
W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp (text), J.G. Veldheer (woodcuts) – Old Dutch towns by the Zuiderzee – Haarlem, Erven F. Bohn, 1897.
* Queen Wilhelmina visited the Rozenburg factory on 26 February 1900, accompanied by her mother Princess Emma and the Prince and Princess of Waldeck Pyrmont. Special attention was given to the collection of eggshell porcelain that was ready to be shipped to Paris. At the end of the visit to the factory, the party signed the guestbook with a pen dipped in a brand new porcelain inkwell, decorated with purple chrysanthemums by Samuel Schellink. Shortly afterwards, the inkwell was donated to the Hague Gemeentemuseum!
(Source: Rozenburg, Pottery from The Hague circles 1883-1917, dr. Yvonne Brentjens)