Elegant and colourful porcelain marked with a stork. You might think this could only be porcelain from The Hague, but it is in fact a clever Hague bluff from the late eighteenth century. Research in the twentieth century found that though the decoration was applied here, the porcelain itself was imported from places like Ansbach in Germany and Doornik in Belgium. This does not however detract from the fact that, at the time, Hague porcelain was perfectly in tune with international fashion, and highly popular. Kunstmuseum Den Haag has a large collection, and will be showing a large selection in A Hague Bluff – Porcelain 1776-1790.
Cream jars with views of The Hague, dinner services decorated with birds, and tureens lavishly decorated with floral motifs: just some of the Hague porcelain collection that will feature in A Hague Bluff. The porcelain typically has an elegant Rococo style, neoclassical Louis XVI elements, and decoration largely in fuchsia and green. Hague porcelain was produced between 1776 and 1790 at one of the four porcelain factories established in the Netherlands in the mid- to late eighteenth century, after the secret of porcelain became known throughout Europe. The factory in The Hague was run by the German Lijncker family. It had grown out of a shop, established in 1772, that sold ceramics and textiles. In 1776 the family started decorating porcelain, employing mainly German painters. They used a stork – the symbol of The Hague – as their factory mark.
Anton Lijncker tried to obtain a patent from the States of Holland in 1778 that would have given him the sole right to produce porcelain in the province, as well as certain tax exemptions. But when his application was being considered it was found that the factory did not actually produce any porcelain at all, though Lijncker maintained otherwise. The application was therefore rejected, and he never resubmitted it, suggesting he did not change his working practices. Not even after the porcelain factory moved to larger premises on Dunne Bierkade. Archive research in the twentieth century confirmed this fact, and no kilns were ever in fact found on the site where the factory once stood. These days, Hague porcelain is therefore described as ‘porcelain decorated in The Hague’.
Hague porcelain is still popular with collectors, and many museums in the Netherlands and abroad have items in their collection. Kunstmuseum Den Haag’s collection is one of the most important. In 2014 ten cream jars with views of The Hague – including Lange Voorhout and the Mauritshuis – were purchased for the collection with the help of the Dutch Porcelain Foundation. They too will be on display in A Hague Bluff. Snijder&Co of Rotterdam will produce hand-painted wallpaper specially for the exhibition, inspired by Hague porcelain, with the stork as its central motif.