Delftware WonderWare

Kunstmuseum Den Haag has one of the finest and largest collections of Delftware in the world. Delftware is not only a beautiful traditional product and a paragon of Dutch prosperity in the Golden Age, but also an inspiration for contemporary design. At the Delftware WonderWare exhibition of the Kunstmuseum you will discover the beauty and the fascinating stories behind this world-famous cultural heritage.

Delftware takes a prominent place in the wide variety of applied arts at the Kunstmuseum. Delftware WonderWare shows the versatility of this traditional Dutch product, then and now. From the typical blue-white to flashing red, snow-white and even Delft black; from 17th Century vases for the very rich to contemporary tulip vases made by Dutch designers like Hella Jongerius and Wieki Somers. Delftware Wonderware will submerge you in the beauty of this valuable product.

Delftware is the paragon of Dutch prosperity in the Golden Age

The best alternative to porcelain

From the early 17th Century, the Netherlands was introduced to oriental porcelain thanks the Dutch East India Trading Company (VOC). Gloss, beautiful decorations and exotic forms appealed to the imagination, but only wealthy people could afford to buy these Chinese products. Before long, the Delft earthenware industry came up with a more cost-effective alternative: Hollants porceleyn (Dutch porcelain).

The main difference: Hollants porceleyn is in fact no porcelain at all. That is because porcelain requires china clay, also called kaolin, which is not found in the Netherlands. That is the reason why Delftware factories, such as De Porceleyne Fles, introduced imitation porcelain products made of Dutch clay. They aimed to copy the Chinese product as well as they could. And not without success, because their sophisticated, luxurious earthenware products were widely considered the best alternative to genuine (export) porcelain. That is how Delftware factories became the low-cost warehouses of the Golden Age with an enormous impact on the Dutch way of life. Delftware Wonderware shows how the industry has played a role throughout the centuries and still has an effect on our interiors today.

A Vase for the Princess

As well as many unique artefacts, the exhibition contains a series of prints of the internationally well-known and acclaimed illustrators Ingrid and Dieter Schubert. Especially for Kunstmuseum and Leopold Publishers, they produced the children’s art book A Vase for the Princess. The story is about two mouse-friends, city mouse Titus and Chinese mouse Lin, who find themselves in a Delft earthenware factory. Admire the original illustrations for yourself and let your (grand) children get acquainted with a wonderful piece of cultural heritage.

Learn all about the Delft earthenware industry, from the 17th Century to modern times

William III and Mary II

These graceful figures were manufactured around 1690 in De Grieksche A, one of the most famous potteries in Delft and purveyor to The Hague stadholder William III and his wife Mary Stuart (the future Queen Mary II). Globally, so far this is the only known pair of royals made in Delftware. Therefore, the figures most likely depict William and Mary themselves. After having been separated for forty years in private collections, the royal couple was reunited in 2014. Kunstmuseum Den Haag acquired the unique flower holders early in 2015 for the Netherlands Collection, thanks to the generous support of the Rembrandt Association, the Mondrian Fund, the VSB Fund, the Hendrik Muller Fund and Friends of the Museum.