De Porceleyne Fles

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The main building on the Rotterdamseweg in Delft

De Porceleyne Fles (completely De Koninklijke Delftsche Aardewerkfabriek "De Porceleyne Fles Anno 1653" NV , literally the porcelain bottle , internationally known as Royal Delft ) is a Delft ceramics manufacture with a museum. Founded in 1653 Manufacture originally for her as Delft blue or Delftware designated faience known, the painted tiles are also Delft tiles called. Since the production of porcelain was still unknown in Europe, Chinese products were originally imitated with local clay. Since 1919 the company has been authorized to operate with the addition "Koninklijke (dt. Royal)" . Today, the manufactory is a leader in the production of decorative delfts blauw and has more than 140,000 visitors a year.


The courtyard of the main building
Trademark De Porceleyne Fles from 1959
Royal Award Deed
Wall surface made of historical Delft tiles

Chinese porcelain as a model

Porcelain came to Europe since the 13th century. From 1516 onwards, imports increasingly took place via Macau and Nagasaki to Lisbon . In the 17th century, however, the Netherlands became the leader in porcelain imports, particularly through the Dutch East India Company . Attempts have been made in Europe to make Chinese porcelain themselves. In Faenza , part of the Republic of Venice, the Bianchi di Faenza was made from ceramic in the 16th century . It was covered with a tin glaze. That is why the faience products were thicker-walled than porcelain. As early as the second half of the 16th century, factories in Amsterdam , Haarlem and Middelburg were producing multi-colored pottery. This handicraft was originally adopted by Italian potters. The first manufacture in Delft was founded towards the end of the 16th century. Delft quickly developed into a center of European faience production, as the manufacturers there began to imitate Chinese porcelain with the popular blue painting on a white background at the beginning of the 17th century .

17th century

Due to the civil war in China, imports into the Netherlands decreased despite the continued high demand for porcelain. In Delft, due to the decline of some breweries, suitable buildings were available for factories. Around 32 Delft manufactories were founded in the 17th century. De Porceleyne Fles alone has survived to this day. In 1653 the manufacture was founded by David Anthonisz van der Piet. Since then, typical Dutch landscapes and sea views in Delft blue, including windmills and sailing ships, have also been used in porcelain painting. In 1655 the company was owned by Wouter van Eenhoorn and Quirijn van Cleynhoven. In 1663 van Eenhoorn sold his share to Quirijn van Cleynhoven, who died in 1695. His widow, Engeltje Oprust, sold the factory in 1697 to the Leiden merchant Johannes Knotter. Johannes Verburgh became a master painter. In 1698 Johannes Knotter became winkelhouder (business owner ). He first introduced the porcelain bottle to identify the brand. Since Verburgh switched to rival company De Grieksche A , Knotter employed the master painter Dirk Baans and, from 1700, Cornelis van der Houve.

18th century

In 1701 Knotter sold the manufacture to Marcelis de Vlught. Like the previous owners, he was neither a potter nor a painter. He hired Jan Sixtus van der Hoeck, who was considered one of the most important porcelain painters of his time and was famous for his ornate decorations. 1750 sold de Vlught to Christoffel van Doorne and his son Pieter. After the death of his parents in 1762, the manufacture passed entirely to Pieter van Doorne. In 1771, Pieter's widow sold the manufacture to the master potter Jacobus Harlees, who, after an interruption of around seventy years, reintroduced the porcelain bottle into the trademark. His son Dirck Harlees inherited the manufactory in 1782. The Delft ceramics industry fell into a crisis in the 18th century. There were several reasons for this. On the one hand, the method for producing porcelain was discovered in Germany in 1708 by Johann Friedrich Böttger and Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus , so that these products now competed with the Delft faience. On the other hand, a white porcelain clay was discovered by William Cookworthy in Cornwall in 1746 , which was also far superior to the Delft material. Thus the English manufacturer Wedgwood also became a powerful competitor. Asian porcelain also became cheaper and cheaper. After all, the Delft manufacturers lacked innovations in line with the market.

19th century

Dirck Harlees sold the company to Henricus Arnoldus Piccardt in 1804, whose daughter Geertruida VMA Piccardt ran it from 1849 to 1876. In order to withstand the competition, it relied on printed mass-produced goods and largely gave up the manual production with hand-painting. In 1876 the engineer Joost Thooft bought the company with the aim of reviving the old tradition of Delftware. In 1884 the pharmacist Abel Labouchere became his partner. Together they developed a new mix of materials that was less fragile and more akin to English porcelain clay. The manufactory now experienced a new bloom. The monogram JT and the Delft geographical indication have been added to the trademark of the porcelain bottle. Joost Thooft died at the age of 46. Abel Labouchere became the sole owner. In the years from 1878 to 1930 Leo Senf (1860-1940), a pupil of the important faience painter Cornelis Tulk, was one of the most famous designers in the history of Porceleyne Fles . The building ceramics department was established in 1895. The manufactory received important orders for architectural ceramics, including for the Peace Palace in The Hague . At the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900, the company was awarded the Grand Prix for a ceramic gallery.

20th century

In 1904 the company was converted into a public limited company. It then operated under the name "De Porceleyne Fles Anno 1653 formerly Joost Thooft and Labouchere". The company was relocated from the eastern edge of Delft to the Rotterdamseweg in 1916. In 1919 the company was given the privilege of calling the factory the Royal Manufactory . The Experimental Ceramics Department was established in 1956. The sculptor, ceramist and chemist Theo Dobbelmann (born in 1906 in Nijmegen , professor at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam, died in 1984) played a key role in developing new forms of expression and techniques with his students. In collaboration with numerous artists, not only buildings but also cruise ships were equipped with ceramic wall reliefs. There was less and less demand for monumental wall art in the 1970s, so the experimental department had to be closed in 1977. To this end, a collection of contemporary ceramics was introduced again in 1988, for which a well-known artist or designer is to create an object in a limited and numbered edition every year. In 2008 the corporation was able to buy the company Royal Leerdam Crystal , a traditional company specializing in the production of decorative art and everyday objects made of crystal.


  • Theo Dobbelmann: Beeldend aardewerk, experimentele afdeling van De Porceleyne Fles te Delft. Catalogus bij de expositie in Museum Boymans. Boymans Museum, Rotterdam 1957
  • Rick Erickson: Royal Delft. A guide to De Porceleyne Fles. Schiffer Publishing, Atglen PA et al. 2003, ISBN 0-7643-1804-7 .

Web links

Commons : Porceleyne Fles Delft  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 52 ° 0 '4.9 "  N , 4 ° 21' 59.2"  E