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D2364. Polychrome Tobacco Box and Cover

Probably Schiedam, circa 1780

Attributed to Arent Klos, founder of De Onderneming (The Enterprise) factory in 1779

Of octagonal shape, painted in blue, green, manganese and yellow, panels on the sides of the box with a portrait in profile of either a man or a woman in a medallion below a floral garland, all separated by panels of garden vases, the cover with four large panels with floral garlands alternated by smaller panels with vertical floral garlands and surmounted by a double-tiered knop.

Height: 17.5 cm. (6.9 in.)

Based on the design and colors, this tobacco box can be attributed to Arent Klos, who was a potter in the city of Schiedam. Not all Delftware was made in the city of Delft. Potters and tile makers lived in Amsterdam, Arnhem, Bolsward, Deventer, Gorcum, Gouda, Haarlem, Harlingen, Middelburg, Rotterdam and Utrecht during the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. From 1781 onwards Delftware was produced in the city of Schiedam, a mere 10 kilometers from Delft.

Native of Delft, Arent Klos (1732-1795) requested permission to start a factory in 1779. The factory De Onderneming (The Enterprise) was founded by Klos with the financial support of Bernard Johan Pielat van Bulderen and Willem van Olfen. Around 1780, the Delft earthenware industry experienced a weak economy. Many experienced craftsmen fled the city to work in Schiedam. Production began at De Onderneming in February 1781 and, although Klos left the firm five months later due to a disagreement with the financiers, the factory continued in operation until the middle of 1785. The factory in Schiedam was not a small-scale operation, which was previously assumed. In fact, it was a fully- fledged concern with tens of workers and a complete range of Delftware objects.

Up to now, only seven objects have been attributed to the factory via the marks Schiedam or Adam. Four of them also bear the name A. Klos, thus belonging to the initial period. The characteristic colors used for the decoration differ from those of normal Delftware. The polychrome wares have purple outlines filled in with ultramarine, purple, olive green and canary yellow. The blue is unlike most Delft objects from that time. Moreover, the white tin glaze is more grainy and slightly grayer, which might have been typical utility pottery, which is possibly the reason so little has been preserved.

A bowl, marked for A. Klos in the Stedelijk Museum in Schiedam (inv. no. H2332), is painted in a similar style as the present tobacco box. Not only the colors are similar, also the precision of the painting with the purple outlines are comparable to the paintwork on the tobacco box. A portrait of the muse Calliope crowning Cupid in a medallion on a barber’s bowl, illustrated in Vormen uit Vuur, 2006, vol. 194, p. 16, il.. 12, has strong similarities in color and style with the portraits in the medallions on the present tobacco box. Another tobacco box attributed to Schiedam, although different in shape, was sold on 21-22 October 2004 at Sotheby’s New York.

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