ASIA-AMSTERDAM

Chinese porcelain was known in the Netherlands, since the end of the sixteenth century.It was much admired for its technical perfection, compared to the local products, its hardness, light weight, and fine sound, while exotic decorations appealed to the imagination. It is easy to understand how porcelain soon attracted a wide array of buyers when prices suddenly fell.

Much of the porcelain being important was not of a particularly high quality because of the VOC’s emphasis on keeping prices low. Studies of seventeenth century trash pits give a good impression of the wide range in the quality.  But the VOC and private Dutch traders were also able to import exclusive items of superior quality. Large dishes are among the most expensive items in inventories, even in the second half of the century.

The Dutch were proud of owning large quantities of porcelain dishes and bowls, and felt the need to display their porcelain as a decorative element in their homes. The tops of freestanding cupboards and cabinets were popular spots for large bowls and jars. Later in the seventeenth century, these surfaces were used to display groups of similar shaped, decorated jugs with lids and vases, known as garniture sets. The Dutch term for such sets , kaststel, literally means “cupboard set “

The composition changed dramatically after the French interior architect Daniël Marot arrived at the court of the Stadtholder William III and his wife Mary Stuart. In Marot’s designs, porcelain became one component in the overall decorative scheme for the interior. 

Bandwork decoration with volutes filling a section on the wall determined the location of consoles intended for porcelain..

Although it was not possible to focus on a particular, exceptional object in such a scheme, that was not the priority anyway. The late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries were the heyday of miniature porcelain, so-called “poppengoed” when Dutch interiors were flooded with very small vases and jars and bowls.