Bert-Jan's Tile Collection - Part 2.
The first tile on this new page shows a Javanese Srimpi dancer. The design is painted in Acanthos high relief enamels with the outlines of the dancer painted in gold. Creative Arts Department of Goedewaagen-Distel, Gouda. Date 1925 - 1930. Size is 10 cm by 10 cm.
During the years 1923 to 1925 the Goedewaagen factory in Gouda bought the famous Amsterdam pottery works - Plateelbakkerij De Distel. Goedewaagen thus transformed itself from a clay-pipe and domestic earthenware factory, to a company producing artistic ceramics. The Creative Arts Department of Goedewaagen-Distel was thus born. Basically a continuation of Plateelbakkerij De Distel where the artist Carel Adolph Lion Cachet supplied designs that were executed by the artist/craftsman Willem Hendrik van Norden.
Lion Cachet was one of the artists responsible for decorating the large passenger ships of the era. Expensive wood such as ebony and coromandel were used for furniture and tile panels which were decorated with gold and platinum. These could be seen on the walls of dining rooms, music rooms, etc. Having small windows these rooms were quite dark so to make the tile panels more visible, Lion Cachet had them executed in high relief enamels and reflective metals like gold and platinum. This type of decoration was named 'Acanthos' - 'thistle' in ancient Greek. A reference to the old Plateelbakkerij De Distel (The Thistle). Acanthos enamels were developed by Dirk Abraham Goedewaagen - the younger brother of Aart Goedewaagen II, director of the company. Willem van Norden was the skilled craftsman who translated all of Lion Cachet's designs into ceramics. These three men formed a perfect team.
The handwriting of the Goedewaagen mark on the back of the tile is that of Willem van Norden from 1920 to the early 1930's. It also shows the mark of the Engers am Rhein tile works in Germany (capital E surrounded by four stars). The tile blank was made using the dust press method and a so called course grained porphyry clay.
Below - pages from one of the laboratory journals of Dirk Abraham Goedewaagen. It shows the recipes of various glazes etc. Circa 1925. To the right (enlarged) a recipe for a purple Acanthos enamel taken from a journal. As you can see Dirk spells the word 'Acanthos' with a double 'C'.
Picture of recipe book with kind permission of 'collection Keramisch Museum Goedewaagen, Holland'.
Lion Cachet was not the designer of the dancer figure. It was taken from the Swedish artist Tyra Kleen, who in 1925, published a book with litho's showing the various poses of Javanese court dancers. The tile was probably made to decorate a passenger ship of the Java-China-Japan line. Picture shows the original litho design by Tyra Kleen from the 1925 book entitled - 'The Srimpi and Bedojodances at the Court of Surakarta'. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Large tile showing the Muse of pottery making. Designed by Koos van der Sluys under the pseudonym of Jac. Lovades. Fayencefabriek Westraven, Utrecht. Date 1948.
Koos van der Sluys joined forces with Westraven in 1945 just after he earned his degree at the Utrecht Academy of Arts. The famous Dutch artist Karel Appel was a classmate of his and like Appel, Van der Sluys could be regarded as a modern abstract expressionist. It took a few years before Van der Sluys fully developed his own style which is sometimes fully abstract, but often at the edge of what is still recognisable and always highly colourful. In 1948, the year this tile was made, we can see this design is still quite figurative but the non-linear perspective and asymmetric features already hint to his later more fully developed style. By 1953 his style had matured and in that year Van der Sluys issued a series of tiles with designs that are still modern today - the artist was ahead of his time. Sadly his tiles didn't sell and as a result few of them were made.
This specific tile appears to be one of a small series Westraven produced on commission for company jubilees, etc. Some were issued as a small series on single tiles as gifts for company directors. This large tile was in fact made for the Westraven company itself and symbolises their own logo from the post-war period. Namely two ravens, a large kiln in the background and the Muse at the potters wheel. The design as a whole could be interpreted as a symbolic representation of the Westraven pottery works. Marked with the monogram of Jac. Lovades.
Full signature of Jac. Lovades incised at the back of the tile.
Monogram of Jac. Lovades seen next to the potters wheel.
For a number of years, I corresponded with Van der Sluys by letter. The envelopes with his replies were decorated with a small lithograph or etching. The address he wrote with a calligraphy pen making them small works of art. The letters were written in his beautiful handwriting and in one of them he explains how he came up with his pseudonym Jac. Lovades. It is a compilation of letters from his name that, when slightly re-arranged, give the name Lovades, which he felt more suitable to his artwork. The monogram seen on the tile is composed of the letters JL, back to back. The back of the tile bares his full signature, together with the date '48 and a Roman number VI. The fact that Van der Sluys signed the tile in this elaborate way already tells us it was a piece for a special occasion. The Roman number VI indicates the tile was an edition limited to a few pieces. Unfortunately the exact number is not known.
Letter written by Van der Sluys in which he explains his pseudonym Jac. Lovades and the monogram of that name.
Below is a translation.
'The sign is made up as follows, my name is Jacobus Jan van der Sluys.
In my opinion that name didn't suit the tiles I had designed.
Then I rearranged my name.
My first name is Koos
Koos van der Sluys. Kovadesl
This didn't sound right, then I left out the K and moved the L forward, Lovades.
Jacobus (Jacques) Jac. Lovades that sounded right, suited the designs and was still my name.'
and as a monogram
Large tile plaque some 60 cm x 40 cm not including the oak frame. Decorated by Cornelis de Bruin with a scene of his own design. Date circa 1910.
Probably made by Plateelbakkerij Delft, Hilversum. However, it could be a product from De Bruin's own factory of De Terracottafabriek, Maarssen. Founded 1912 - 1913.
De Bruin earned his living as a decorator in ceramics and worked for many different employers. He was a gifted painter, had a strong mind of his own and liked to work alone. De Bruin nowadays is seen as a second generation Dutch impressionist and as the student of Professor August Allebe at the Amsterdam Academy of Arts he was a skilled painter of typical Dutch skies. The latter becomes apparent from this tile plaque by his hand.
From the way De Bruin signed the plaque, we can say he approved of the result. His full signature - 'Corns de Bruin ft. (fecit)' - he reserved only for the best pieces he made. Works he considered as being of lesser quality he generally signed by his initials 'CdB' or just 'CB'.
The code seen above the signature - 'G VIIII' - could be interpreted as a date mark usually associated with Plateelbakkerij Delft (PBD), Hilversum. The 'G' would then indicate the year of manufacture - 1909. The Roman number nine (mistakenly written as VIIII instead of IX) the month September. However, since the plaque is not marked by the characteristic PBD mark and only the reference 'Hilversum' hints at PBD, the code could have an entirely different meaning!
For further information about Cornelis the Bruin take a look at the wonderful website by Bert Kleinmeijer. www.cornsdebruin.nl
Marks including the signature of De Bruin - lower right corner of the scene. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Finally we see three tiles by ESKAF (Eerste Steenwijker Kunst-Aardewerk Fabriek - First Steenwijk Art-Pottery Works). Designed by sculptor Hildo Krop. Made between 1919 and 1925.
When the ESKAF started production in 1919, one of its principal designers was the then already famous Hildo Krop. He was one of the principal sculptors working together with the architects of the Amsterdamse School. Many buildings and bridges in Amsterdam are adorned with Krop's works of art. Perhaps it was his father, one of the two founders of the ESKAF works, who persuaded him to design ceramics. Krop designed a series of twelve tiles around 1920. The three tiles shown here are part that series. It appears they depict the Biblical theme of sowing and reaping. However, Krop was a strong minded socialist and it's likely the design simply shows hard working men on a farmer's field. This would certainly suit his political ideas!
Below - tile backstamp examples.
Tile Collection Part 1Bert-Jan vases here soon