The Ram N.V. Pottery Factory
The Ram N.V. Pottery Factory was founded in Arnhem in 1921 by two admirers of Theodoor Colenbrander, among whom the art dealer and fellow ceramic artist Henri van Lerven and a banker called Charles Engelberts. Their goal was to give Colenbrander the artistic freedom to finally execute his designs in the best way possible. No expenses were spared to give Colenbrander all the artistic freedom he needed. The artists were paid by the hour instead of the usual piecework pay, and new paints and other technical marvels were developed. Colenbrander designed dozens of new vase shapes and hundreds of new decorations. Each of these decorations looked completely different when applied to different shapes. This garniture decor “Grot” from 1925, is a prime example of the volatility of Colenbrander’s colors, praised by many of his admirers.
The labor intensity of Colenbrander’s designs resulted in high product prices. The factory was forced to hire other ceramic artists and to develop household ceramics. Colenbrander was not concerned with financial factors and he left the factory in 1925. Due to the economic crisis, Ram had to shut down in 1935.
T.A.C. (Theodoor) Colenbrander (1841-1930)
Theodoor Colenbrander, born in Doesburg in 1841, started his career as an architect, but later emerged as a ceramic artist with a distinct style, combining abstract, highly stylized motifs with exotic shapes. Colenbrander was appointed as a designer and an artistic director of N.V. Pottery Factory Rozenburg in 1884, where he quickly became the creative force of the factory. His distinct style combined motifs inspired by exotic artworks with shapes influenced by his passion for architecture. Colenbrander did not want to adapt his designs to follow the fashion of the day, which created fractures in the relationship between him and the factory when it decided to commercialize in 1888. He left Rozenburg in September 1889 and started working as an interior designer, mainly designing carpets. He returned to ceramics in 1912 for the Plateelbakkerij Zuid Holland, but disappointed by the limited techical possibilities and quality, Colenbrander left just after one year. In 1921 when the Ram pottery factory was founded, Colenbrander at the age of 80, finally found his place where he could have all the artistic freedom to create new shapes and decorations and no expense was spared. This way of producing created financial problems for the factory, and when it was forced to start the production of household ceramics in 1925, Colenbrander left. He died just five years later.