Important and Rare Delftware Collection at TEFAF Maastricht 2017

AMSTERDAM February 21, 2017 - At TEFAF Maastricht 2017 Aronson Antiquairs will present a spectacularly rare and important collection of Dutch Delftware: The Nijstad Collection and highlights from the Morpurgo Collection.

The Nijstad family has been deeply wedded to art and antiques for as long as anyone can remember. They channeled this passion into a successful business, decades before Hartog ‘Harts’ and Kitty Nijstad developed a magnificent collection of Dutch Delftware in the twentieth century. Robert Aronson, fifth generation owner of the over 135 year old Dutch firm, has already a long history with the family. He has childhood memories of visiting Mr. and Mrs. Nijstad, who where his father’s colleagues and his grandparent’s dear friends. As Robert Aronson adds “No extravagance. Mr. Nijstad invited us to the study upstairs. There, a large vitrine running from floor to ceiling was remarkably filled entirely with Dutch Delftware”. The collection, which was started by his father Abraham Nijstad, include a pair of boys riding lions made around 1775, and a pair of candlesticks with deer marked for Jan van den Briel, the owner of De Grieksche A (The Greek A) factory from 1768 to 1783, or his widow Petronella van der Laan from 1783 to 1796. An early polychrome money bank, which can be attributed to Jannetge Claesdr. van Straten, widow of Jacob Wemmersz. Hoppesteyn and the owner of Het Moriaenshooft (The Moor’s Head) factory from 1671 until 1686, is also part of this important collection. Robert Aronson, who is grateful to the Nijstad family for the long friendship, is proud and honoured to be given the opportunity to present the Nijstad collection in all its glory.

In addition to the outstanding objects from the Nijstad collection, Aronson Antiquairs will also bring several highlights from the Morpurgo collection. The Morpurgo family is a renowned Amsterdam dynasty in the antiques trade. Four successive generations have contributed their expertise, knowledge, and passion to the industry since the family business was started by Joseph M. Morpurgo in 1869. The Aronson family and the Morpurgo’s also go back several generations. One of their long treasured objects is a plaque attributed to Frederik van Frijtom - who is Holland’s most renowned painter of seventeenth century Delft faience and oils, which can now represented to a new generation of collectors and appreciators.

TEFAF Maastricht is widely regarded as the world's leading fair for art, antiques and design. Featuring 275 prestigious deals from some 20 countries, TEFAF Maastricht is a showcase for the finest art works currently on the market. TEFAF Maastricht's upcoming edition will  run from Thursday March 10 through Sunday March 19, 2017.

Dutch Delftware has been handmade in Holland for more than 400 years. It began when trade with Italy, Spain and Portugal brought earthenware to the Netherlands. By the seventeenth century the Dutch East India Company had introduced Europe to Chinese porcelain and exports flourished as the West strived to duplicate the Chinese formula for fine blue and white porcelain. When war in China interrupted the trade, potters in Delft expanded their businesses to create earthenware versions of ‘porcelain.’ At the height of production The Guild of Saint Luke counted almost 40 factories in the small city of Delft. They were innovative and adapted to fill the needs of clients all over Europe, with the elegant term ‘faience’ becoming synonymous with ‘delftware.’ The word “Delftware” has long been associated with a visit to Holland.

For over 135 years Aronson Antiquairs has sought to carry the very finest examples of Delft in the full range of forms and patterns, from the extremely rare black Delft to Japanese Imari designs and the instantly recognizable blue and white and Chinoiserie motifs in dishes, figures, vases, bowls and plaque forms. Robert Aronson is chairman of the Royal Dutch Antique Dealers Association and he recently provided sponsorship support to the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague to show a distinguished collection of antique Delft titled “Delftware Wonderware.”


TEFAF Maastricht

Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 45-B

Mail: P.O.Box 15556
NL-1001 NB Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Tel. +31 20 623 3103
Fax +31 20 638 3066

For interviews and high resolution images please contact:
Celine Ariaans
+31 20 623 3103

1715 Pair Of Blue And Manganese Ewers

Willem & Lambertus Cleffius

The Delftware industry reached a pinnacle of success amongst European earthenware makers by the second half of the seventeenth century. Very rapidly, the number of factories producing Delftware dramatically increased. At first, the market was mostly dominated by families of craftsmen whose knowledge was built on generations of experience. However, the Delftware industry soon attracted wealthy foreign investors due to the lucrative nature of the business. The investment and business sense of individuals such as Willem Cleffius and his son greatly enhanced the Delftware industry.[1]

Willem Cleffius was originally from Cologne, and later moved to Amsterdam where he became a merchant. In 1632, he married Marguerite Lambrechtsdr. Cruyck, the daughter of Lambrecht Gisbrechtsz. Cruyck, owner of De Dissel factory. By marriage, he also became the brother-in-law of Wouter van Eenhoorn, the founder of De Grieksche A (The Greek A) factory. [2] This connection certainly made Willem Cleffius a well-informed investor into the Delftware industry. In 1662, Willem Cleffius became co-owner of De Paauw (The Peacock) factory, which marked his first step into the field of Delftware. At first, his role must have been strictly financial, as he inscribed himself at the Guild of Saint Luke as a plateelhouder (shop-owner) four years later. [3]On January 6, 1670, he purchased De Metaale Pot (The Metal Pot) factory from the directors of the Dutch East India Company, the maritime company that transformed the former brewery into their chamber. The factory was located on the Lange Geer and included a house, a courtyard, a warehouse and sheds.[4] Lambertus Cleffius, the son of Willem, joined the company as soon as his father had acquired it. After his marriage in 1672, he became a shareholder of the company. Lambertus may have handled the day to day operations of the factory, while his father oversaw the business. Lambertus was registered as a plateelbakker (pottery master) at the Guild of Saint Luke since 1667. [5]According to Havard, the ceramic he created in order to obtain the title of master only took three days to complete. When his father died in 1679, he became the sole owner of the company.[6 Like his father, he also had shares in other Delftware companies, such as De Witte Ster (The White Star) factory in 1687.

By acquiring these factories, the Cleffius’ and their extended family had built a veritable empire and had considerable influence in the industry. Their strong alliance likely discouraged competition, thus furthering their control in the Delftware industry. In fact, the Cleffius family may have purchased supply jointly amongst their factories to lower their cost. Quickly, father and son developed an international clientele.[7] In the 1680s, the Cleffius’ were commissioned to create a large dinner service for Wenzel Ferdinand, Prince Lobkowicz of Bilina (1656-1697). This set was probably inspired by the sumptuous silverware services designed for Louis XIV. However, as Van Dam states in Delffse Porceleyne, it would have been unlikely for a Delft potter to witness a full silver service in his hometown.[8] Thus, the master of the Lobkowicz commission may have been more creative than previously thought. Today, this Delftware service is the largest and earliest known example of its kind.

The magnificent pair of blue and white ewers, attributed to Lambertus Cleffius, shares many similarities with the ewers from the Lobkowicz service. The shape may have been derived from the Nevers faience models, ideas of which were borrowed from Italy. The Nevers prototypes for these ewers are referred to as aiguières religieuses, and are thought to have had an ecclesiastical use. The Delft ewers of this type, however, seem to have a decorative function. Some types may even have a royal connection; fragments of a ewer with a similar handle and top of the neck have been excavated in the garden of Palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn.

The delicate blue and white hexagonal sweetmeat dish could also have been part of a service. The form of the object is relatively uncommon; compartmented dishes are more often found with a larger central circular well surrounded by four fan-shaped wells.

Lambertus Cleffius became such an unavoidable figure in the Delftware world that in 1684, he was asked to represent a delegation sent to England to negotiate the end of the embargo on Dutch ceramics. Since the third Anglo-Dutch war (1672-1674), the importation of Dutch pottery to the English territory was forbidden. [9]He also unconsciously revolutionized a change in the Delfware industry; the appearance of the maker’s mark on the reverse of ceramic objects. In 1678, he advertised in the newspaper Haarlemsche Courant, that he was not only the inventor of the red stoneware teapots, [10 but also he had discovered the secret of making oriental porcelain. [11] His proclamation surely offended Samuel van Eenhoorn and his employee Ary de Milde, who were also making such teapots. In response to the advertisement, the two potters requested a fifteen year exclusive deal to make red stoneware teapots to the States of Holland. Although the request was denied, the States of Holland implemented a system of marks in order to prevent counterfeiting. As a result, many Delft potters registered their marks, which became immensely useful for art historians and collectors. [12]The various Delft factories then began to form unique identities and styles that would distinguish their works from other makers.

The mark of Lambertus Cleffius is composed of his interlaced initials, L.C. Unlike his contemporaries, whose production is characterized by horror vacui, Lambertus Cleffius preferred spare decoration. This delicate pair of blue and white plates marked for Lambertus Cleffius illustrates this identifiable trait. Cleffius is also known for his use of a fine line known as a trek. The decoration can be found on the expression and clothes of his characters in many of his most beautiful pieces, such as this octagonal triple gourd shaped vase.

Lambertus Cleffius died in 1691. Despite his numerous accounts and unpaid bills, his estate inventory suggests that he was very wealthy and owned a significant collection of paintings, oriental porcelain and Delftware. De Metaale Pot was bought on April 6, 1691 for 9,500 guilders by his cousin, Lambertus van Eenhoorn.[13


[1]   J.D. Van Dam, Delffse Porceleyne, Dutch Delftware 1620-1850, Zwolle/Amsterdam (Rijksmuseum), 2004, p. 33.

[2 M.S. Van Aken-Fehmers, L.A. Schledorn, A.- G. Hesselink, T.M. Eliëns, Delfts aardewerk. Geschiedenis van een nationaal product, Volume I, Zwolle/Den Haag (Gemeentemuseum) 1999, p. 155.

[3 Ibidem.

[4 Hoekstra-Klein, Geschiedenis van de Delftse plateelbakkerijen, ‘De Metalen Pot’ 1670-1770/1775, ‘De Hollandsche Daelder’ 1696-1708/1721, Plateeldraaierij ‘Buitenwatersloot’ circa 1669-1717/1732, Theepotbakkerij ‘De Gecroonde Theepot’ 1689-1724, Delft, 2010, p. 168.

[5 Van Aken-Fehmers 1999 (note 2), p. 156.

[6 H. Havard, Histoire de la faïence de Delft, Paris/ Amsterdam 1878, p. 111.

[7 The estate inventory that was made after the death of Lambertus Cleffius showed he had unpaid invoices from Holland, France, Brussels and Hamburg.

[8 Van Dam 2004 (note 1), p. 80.

[9 C.H. de Jonge, Delft Ceramics, New York 1970, p. 54.

[10 They were created with the intention to imitate the Chinese Yixing teapots.

[11 The elusive “Arcanum,” which, in fact, was not discovered in Europe until 1708 by the young alchemist, Johann Friedrich Böttger at Meissen near Dresden.

[12 Havard 1878 (note 6), p. 219.

[13 Van Aken-Fehmers 1999 (note 2), p. 157.