skip to Main Content

The Design Museum Danmark is located in the capital city of Copenhagen. Founded in 1890 by the Confederation of Danish Industries and the Ny Carlsberg Museumslegat, the museum opened to the public in 1895. Since its inception, the museum has aimed to elevate quality within design. Through their exhibitions of exemplary objects and collections, the museum seeks to raise the level of Danish industrial products and act as a source of inspiration for people working in the design industry.

The extensive collection includes arts and crafts, and industrial design from throughout the Western world, covering the periods of the late Middle Ages to today. It also comprises East Asian objects, primarily from Japan and China, from prehistoric times until the present. The museum presents an interdisciplinary collection from furniture to silver, fashion, textiles, digital design and ceramics. 

The collection of ceramics is quite unique in terms of its size and representation; it covers all known techniques within the main groups of earthenware, stoneware, tin-glazed earthenware and porcelain as well as new hybrid materials and techniques. The collection illustrates the history of pottery within a very wide geographical area which, besides European and Danish pottery, also includes East Asian pottery. The collection spans an impressively long chronological period stretching from Neolithic Chinese pottery from the third millennium BC to the very latest ceramic experiments by contemporary Danish potters.

There are many Delftware works of art in the collection, from dishes and butter tubs to flower vases and garnitures. The collection encompasses blue and white to polychrome grand feu and petit feu objects. A particularly rare object is a seventeenth century blue and white covered spice bowl, which reflects the new dining culture brought to Europe from other parts of the world through trade. A table set with this type of bowl was considered prestigious, allowing guests to flavor their food with exotic spices. Although the bowl is not marked, it is attributed to De Grieksche A (The Greek A) factory because of its similarity to other spice bowls made by the pottery.


D1839. Blue and White Footed Sugar Dish

Delft, circa 1750

Marked with an unidentified X mark in blue

Painted with a long-tailed bird perched on a branch of bamboo beside flowering branches with large peonies and bamboo, the upstanding rim decorated on the interior with six panels depicting a leaf, alternated with six trelliswork panels and edged in iron-red, the bottom painted with three large floral sprigs and affixed with three feet.

Diameter: 12.3 cm. (4.8 in.)


The flower shape of the object probably derives froma Japanese porcelain dish. In Japan, small disheslike this one were used for the Kaiseki (懐石), a meal preceding the tea ceremony. They were intendedto display fresh seasonal ingredients that were prepared in ways to enhance their flavor. This Delft dish may have been used during tea time for serving rock sugar, referred to in Dutch as Kandij (hence theword “candy”). An example of a footed sugar dish, with a spoon resting in it, is found amongst the tea utensils in the painting ‘Het nieuwe lied’ (‘The new song’) by Jan Josef Horemans (II), 1740-1760, in which a cheerful company is having tea and coffee, and smoking while listening to a song played by a lady on the harpsichord. Two low sugar dishes filled with rock sugar also appear amongst a red teapot and other tea utensils in the anonymous painting ‘Het theebezoek’ (‘The tea visit’), 1715-20, illustrated in C.W. Fock (ed.), Het Nederlandse interieur in beeld 1600-1900, Zwolle 2001, p. 217, ill. 168. Other tea necessities of the period would have included a tray, a water kettle, a teapot, often accompanied by a pattipan (teapot stand), a milk jug, a waste or slop bowl, a spoon tray, a tea canister or caddy, and cups and saucers.

Located near the Rhine river in the Palais Nesselrode, the Hetjens Museum preserves, researches and presents the universal history of ceramics. The collection encompasses objects from the Middle East, East Asia, Africa, pre-Columbian America, antiquity and the Middle Ages. Accordingly, all ceramic materials, earthenware, stoneware, faience and porcelain are represented. Special emphasis is placed on the current ceramic art.

The museum owes its name and the foundation of its collection to Laurenz Heinrich Hetjens (1830 – 1906). In 1866, Hetjens married the wealthy older widow Maria Catharina Regnier and subsequently retired from business. With greater time and resources, Hetjens devoted himself to his real passion: collecting and researching art. He had a preference for Rhineland stoneware from the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods. Hetjens acquired important pieces in the art trade, participated in excavations and became a recognized expert through his research. When he died in 1906, a posthumous foundation of his extensive art collection was established, which provided funding for his museum that has forever to bear his name.

Although the museum was originally established with a more broad collection, it changed course after a reorganization in 1926 to exclusively acquire ceramics that would complement Hetjens’ original collection.  

The extensive collection includes several objects of Dutch Delftware. Amongst others, there is a cashmere palette flower holder with fanning rows of spouts and open-mouthed wyvern handles from circa 1700 and in a rather similar model, but in blue and white, there is a flower vase from De Witte Starre (The White Star) factory. Objects from the late seventeenth century include a blue and white bowl and covered flower holder with open-mouthed dragon handles, which was probably produced at De Grieksche A factory.


D1919. Polychrome and Gilded Large Dish

Delft, circa 1710

Painted in iron-red, salmon, black and gold in the center with a Chinese man, his attendant standing behind him holding an umbrella and both walking towards a female figure graciously depicted in her flowing robes with a child in her arms, probably the Goddess Guan Yin, all in a fenced garden, the cavetto and rim decorated with large panels of flowering plants and a flitting insect. 19. Polychrome and Gilded Large Dish

Diameters: 35.1 cm. (13.8 in.)

Note: Delftware with a decoration painted only in iron-red and gold is extremely rare. The style is probably inspired by Chinese porcelain wares that were decorated only in iron-red, gold and sometimes with the addition of black enamel, which are traditionally called ‘Milk and Blood’ in the Netherlands. Interestingly, in the eighteenth century the name was also applied to a specific type of imported Indian chintz, with predominantly red decorations on a light ground. Apparently, this type of porcelain was popular mainly among the Dutch, and the very few pieces that can be found elsewhere in Europe usually come from the Netherlands. The composition and iconography conform to the normal export assortment of blue and white Kangxi porcelain of circa 1700. In contrast to the many Chinese porcelain wares in this color palette, Delftware objects painted in only iron-red and gold are rather unique. The depiction of the Goddess Guan Yin, an icon of mercy and passion also holds a strong connection to the Chinese porcelain objects. Guan Yin reached the point where she could become a Buddha (enlightenment) and yet she decided to stay on Earth, remaining a “Pu Sa”. She wanted to help humankind achieve better karma, leading them to the Western Heavens to achieve serenity and joy. Because she had the ability to comfort the sick and senile, Guan Yin was broadly admired and adored. She touched their hearts and souls, creating a sense of peace and relief amongst those who were less fortunate. Guan Yin is also often worshipped by people wanting a child and is therefore also seen as the bringer of children, hence the baby she is carrying in her arms.


D1972. Brown-Ground Garniture

Delft, circa 1770

Marked with an axe in blue for De Porceleyne Byl (The Porcelain Axe) factory

Comprising three baluster-form vases and covers and a pair of beaker vases; each piece octagonal and with a brown ground reserved on the front with large blue flowers and leaves, within a blue molded rococo cartouche issuing floral sprigs at the top and bottom, the reverse reserved with a leafy blue and white branch and the covers reserved within the blue molded cartouche at the front with a large blue floral motif and the reverse with a white floral sprig flanked by blue leaves, and surmounted by a blue reserved rococo scrollwork knop.

Heights: 19.5 to 28.5 cm. (7.7 to 11.2 in.)

Provenance: American Private Collection

Note: The garniture is painted with a brown background in which flower patterns have been saved and have been painted in a blue color. To produce such a brown background, the brown pigment is applied in the layer of tin glaze. The use of this brown background color is probably inspired on Chinese porcelain from the thirties of the eighteenth century, in which bronze, bamboo or wood was imitated. For Delftware, the color is referred to by the term chocolate or capuchin brown, but is also named Batavia brown. Already in the inventory of De Paauw (The Peacock) factory from 1725, the term capuchin is mentioned, which possibly refers to objects with a brown ground. Capucinous pots, plates and cups are mentioned which, in addition to all kinds of blue-colored goods, are part of the company’s stock.

Similar examples: Although different of shape and decoration, a brown-ground garniture reserved with cartouches painted with blue bouquets is illustrated in Aronson 2005, p. 53, no. 51 and another reserved with large blue and white floral sprays in Aronson 2011, p. 71, no. 39. One beaker and one baluster-form vase with a brown ground of a five-piece garniture in the Musées royaux d’Art et d’Histoire Brussels, are illustrated in Helbig, p. 25, ill. 11. Another brown-ground beaker and baluster-form vase in the Princessehof Museum, Leeuwarden are illustrated in Lunsingh-Scheurleer, p. 315, ill. 362. A pair of brown-ground baluster-form vases in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris is illustrated in Lahaussois 1994, p. 114, ill. 140.


•D1975. Pair of Polychrome Small Floral Plaques

Delft, circa 1780

Unidentified MVD monogram in manganese

Each of cartouche shape and painted in the center with a lush arrangement of flowers in a yellow wicker basket within a self-molded frame of manganese C-scrolls and manganese- and iron-red-heightened yellow S-scrolls interrupted at the sides and bottom with shell devices and at the top with a scallop-shell-form crest above two pierced suspension holes; the reverse glazed.

Heights: 16.1 cm. (6.3 in. ); Lengths: 17.3 cm. (6.8 in.)

Provenance: The collection of Etienne Delaunoy, Amsterdam, and affixed with the collector’s label, Collection Etienne Delaunoy, Amsterdam (Hollande); The collection of Richard and Georgette Koopman, West Hartford, Connecticut; Aronson Antiquairs, Amsterdam, 2005; Dutch Private Collection

Literature: Described and illustrated in Aronson 2005, p. 63, no. 60

Note: Plaques or “porcelain paintings,” as they were referred to in household inventories, were intended to be admired as if they were paintings on panel, canvas or copper. Still life paintings of flowers and fruits were a blossoming genre during Holland’s Golden Age and Delft potters often used it as a source of inspiration. Flower baskets are frequently depicted on seventeenth-century Dutch floral still life paintings. Although Delftware painters were influenced by these paintings, they did not often have access to them, and would have used prints as their source of imagery.


D1974. Set of Twelve Blue and White Whaling Plates

Delft, circa 1775

Marked with an axe in blue for De Porceleyne Byl (The Porcelain Axe) factory

Each painted with a different scene of the whaling trade above a numbered label inscribed with the activity depicted: No 1. De GroenL:Vloot gaat in Zee. (The Greenland fleet goes to sea.); No 2. De Vloot Seijlt in ‘t ijs. (The fleet sails into the ice.); No 3. ‘t Harpoen in de Walvis. (The harpoon in the whale.); No 4. ‘t Loopen van de Walvis. (Tiring the whale.); No 5. Harponiers gereed om te Lenssen. The harpooners ready to spear.); No 6. De Walvis keerd Zig Om.(The whale turns over.); No 7. De Walvis na Boord geroeijd. (The whale hauled to the side of the ship.); No 8. ‘t afmaaken van de Walvis. (The slaughtering of the whale.); No 9. ‘t Schieten en Kneppelen der walrùssen. (The shooting and beating of the walruses.); No 10. Den ijs Beer gedoot. (The polar bear killed.); No 11. De Vloot Seijlt Binnen. (The fleet sails in.); No 12. ‘t Kooken van de Traan. (The boiling of the whale oil.)

Diameters: 25 cm. (9.8 in.)

Provenance: Aronson Antiquairs, Amsterdam, 2005; Dutch Private Collection

Note: The series of twelve ‘Whale Fishery’ plates has a counterpart series of twelve ‘Herring Fishery’ plates. Both series are decorated after the print series of the “Groote Visserij” (“Great Fishery”) engraved by Adolf van der Laan (circa 1690-1742) from drawings by Sieuwert van der Meulen (before 1683-1730), and published by Petrus Schenk in Amsterdam around 1720. Whereas the two Delft series are limited to twelve plates each, both print series contain sixteen prints: the herring series numbered 2-17, with the title page as no. 1, and the whaling prints numbered 1-16. Whale “fishing” took place from April to August in the Greenland seas, and from about 1720 also in the Davis Strait west of Greenland. During the seventeenth century, whaling progressed from bay and coastal waters to the open sea, and finally to the arctic waters, as illustrated on these Delft plates, where the whales would swim along the ice floes in search of plankton. The Greenland ice fishery required better protected, stronger-hulled ships, the so-called ‘Groendlandvaarders,’ whereas in the Davis Strait lighter ships could hunt. But all of the whaling ships were characterized by a large horizontal beam across the width of the stern from which the harpoon boats were lowered for the harpooners, largely hired from the Basque region of Spain, to hunt and kill the whale. While the catch from coastal or bay whaling could be processed promptly in cookeries on land, for whaling on the open seas, time, geography and distances were such that the whales had to be slaughtered alongside the ship. The meat and blubber were barreled aboard the ships, and after the return of the fleet to the Dutch harbor, they were reduced to oil.

Similar examples: A complete set of twelve whaling plates marked for ’t Fortuyn (The Fortune) factory is depicted in Aronson 2010, p. 150-151, no. 90. Plates from the whaling series, all from De Porceleyne Byl (The Porcelain Axe) factory are illustrated by Charleston and Lunsingh Scheurleer 1979, monochrome pl. 90 (plate No. 6); Boyazoglu and de Neuville 1980, p. 124-125, pls. 135-138 (plates Nos. 6, 3, 5 and 12) and p. 145, pl. 153 (plate No. 10); Fourest 1980, p. 126, pl. 121 (plates Nos. 6, 4, 2, 11 and 3); Helbig, Vol. I, p. 210, fig. 155 (plate No. 7); Lunsingh Scheurleer 1984, p. 282, pl. 265 (plate No. 4); Morley-Fletcher and McIlroy 1984, p. 220, no. 12 (plate No. 4).


•D1973. Pair of Blue and White Rectangular Herring Dishes

Delft, circa 1770

Each marked in blue with an axe for De Porceleyne Byl (The Porcelain Axe) factory

Each painted in the center with a scaly herring within a border of leaves and scrolls on the scalloped and barbed edge of the chamfered rectangular rim.

Lengths: both 23.3 cm. (9.2 in.)

Note: The herring, also known as ‘silver of the sea’ provided an important source of income for the Dutch fishing trade. During the first decade of the seventeenth century alone, there were approximately 770 ships (buizen) within the herring fleets. Herring fish were nutritious, inexpensive and like cod, had an extended shelf life when they were preserved in a barrel of salt Thus, the fish could be consumed all year-round. The best way to eat herring, according to the Dutch poet Jacob Westerbaen, was with onions, bread, butter and beer from Haarlem, Delft or Breda. Given the popularity of this Dutch delicacy, herring dishes became a very typical object of the Dutch kitchen in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Various types of dishes especially conceived for its tasting were produced. They were sometimes modeled as a fish, an oval, or a rectangular shape with the depiction of a herring in the center as in the present pair.

Similar examples: A single herring dish with similar border decoration and marked for De Porceleyne Byl is illustrated in Aronson 2007, p. 72, no. 54. Another similarly bordered De Porceleyne Byl herring dish is illustrated by Van Dam 2004, p. 185, fig. 133. A pair of examples by De Roos (The Rose) factory is illustrated by Van Aken-Fehmers 2001, p. 285, ill. 91; and one of those is illustrated by Jörg 1983, p. 164, ill. 119, along with its Chinese export porcelain counterpart, p. 84, ill. 39. On p. 88, the author dates the object circa 1775 based on records of herring dishes imported by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) at 42 cents apiece with one herring, or 52 cents apiece if painted with two herrings.


D1978. Pair of Blue and White Tobacco Jars with Brass Covers

Delft, circa 1795

Both marked BP in blue for De Vergulde Blompot (The Gilt Flowerpot) factory

Each painted on the front with an Indian chieftain smoking a pipe and seated on a pedestal beside a covered tobacco jar inscribed “B: RAPPE” or “St DOMINGO” before a tall leafy tobacco plant, to the right two ships under sail, and to the left a barrel revealing tobacco leaves beside other cargo vessels, one monogrammed VOC, all on a plateau beneath a cloudy sky; each with a brass cover surmounted by a double-conical knop with ball finial.

Heights: 26.2 (10.3 in.); Overall: 31.8 (12.5 in.)

Note: Tobacco, cultivated and used in the Americas for over 2.5 millennia, was first imported to Spain around 1528, found its way quickly to Portugal and by the middle of the century to France. Besides the brown leaves and the seeds, which had been brought back to Spain in 1559 and planted near Toledo on the orders of Philip II (1527-1598), King of Spain, Milan, Naples and Sicily and the Netherlands, the Iberian traders returned with the knowledge of tobacco’s use and how to smoke it in pipes. Initially it was considered by the Europeans to be the “sacred herb” because of its presumed medicinal properties, but as soon as its importation was increased sufficiently by the Spanish and Portuguese, who developed a monopoly in the sixteenth century on the trade with South and Central America, its popularity began to expand and spread geographically. Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618), granted a royal charter by Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) in 1584 to explore and colonize uncharted lands, is credited for bringing back to England the first tobacco from Virginia, which became an enormously lucrative crop – “brown gold”– and a contributor not only to the colonization of the American colonies from the early seventeenth century onward, but also to the ultimately divisive slave trade. By the end of the seventeenth century England had assumed control over large tobacco plantations along the southeastern coast of America: Virginia, the Carolinas and Maryland, and could supply Europe’s requirements for this new and fashionable custom. In 1700 half of the total importation of 20,000,000 pounds of tobacco into Great Britain was exported to Amsterdam, where a large tobacco industry flourished. The tobacco leaves, already cured, fermented and dried on the plantations, arrived in Europe in the form of large rolls, which at the tobacco shops were often stored in large Dutch Delftware jars appropriately labeled with their contents. At a customer’s request the tobacco was either cut to smoke or chew, or rasped to create snuff, as is indicated on the present jar inscribed “RAPPE” (from the French ‘tabac rappé’: finely grated tobacco for a strong, moist snuff). Once at the smoker’s home, the tobacco could be stored in humidors or in specially designed jars or boxes, also made of Dutch Delftware, to keep it moist. Often small quantities of tobacco were kept in charmingly decorated Delft boxes, generally modeled after silver prototypes, which could be used as functional ornaments on a desk or table.

Similar examples: A pair of similar tobacco jars marked for De Vergulde Blompot factory, but one jar inscribed “CUBA”, the other “HAVANA” is illustrated in Aronson 2015, pp. 138-139, no. 81.


D1970. Blue and White Garniture

Delft, circa 1775

Marked with an axe in blue for De Porceleyne Byl (The Porcelain Axe) factory

Comprising three baluster-form vases and covers and a pair of beaker vases; each piece octagonal and painted with a scene of a boat sailing near a building on the shore, all within a molded rococo cartouche issuing a molded flower at the top and bottom, the reverse with a leafy branch, and the covers painted within the molded cartouche at the front with a scene of a fisher boat near a bridge and on the reverse a leafy branch and surmounted by a parrot pecking at a fruit.

Heights: 23.5 to 33.2 cm. (9.2 to 13.1 in.)

Note: Consisting of three, five or sometimes seven vases, garnitures were prestigious luxury goods and highly fashionable decorations for the well-to-do. Although some models were timeless, their design and decoration often followed the latest fashion. The beginning of their production corresponds to a general keen interest for Chinese motifs and designs. By the eighteenth century, the arrival of the rococo movement encouraged the creation of a wide range of garnitures. This blue and white garniture perfectly illustrates the rise of the rocaille style with its rounded shape and relief scrolls. While the maritime scenes within the molded cartouches have a Western flourish, the finials of a bird pecking at a fruit reference oriental design. Garniture sets, such as the present, were displayed in prominent places in the interior. Starting in the 1730s, interior architects combined these with furniture, placing them on a mantelpiece, above a door or on an impressive piece of furniture. When placed above a cabinet or door, the garnitures were purely ornamental.

Similar examples: Although Delftware garnitures of this rococo shape are not uncommon, a set decorated with maritime scenes is rather rare. A single blue and white baluster-shaped vase decorated with a sailing boat and its cover with a bird pecking a fruit is illustrated in Boyazoglu 1980, p. 147, ill. 156, and on p. 148, ill. 157 a beaker vase with sailing ship within a rococo cartouche, marked for De Klaauw (The Claw) factory.

Back To Top