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•D2463. Pair of Polychrome Oval Orangist Plaques

Amsterdam, circa 1780

The plaques with a manganese outer border and a yellow inner border, painted in the center with manganese, blue and yellow en profil of William V and his wife Wilhelmina of Prussia, William V with a yellow sash across his body, over his shoulder and a yellow flower on his chest, Wilhelmina with a blue hat with yellow floral decoration on top.

Height: 14.8 cm. (5.8 in.)

French Private Collection, Paris, 2023 (Provenance+)

Delftware objects displaying Dutch monarchs, royal coats of arms and symbols of the Royal House, such as the orange tree, are known as Orangist Delft. The production and popularity of patriotic Delftware grew during the reign of William III, who was the sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, stadholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders and Overijssel from 1672, and King of England, Ireland, and Scotland from 1689 until his death.

Owning and displaying Orangist Delftware was a strong symbol of allegiance towards the monarch. In fact, these depictions became more frequent as the stadholder’s political position of was challenged.

Patriotic Dutch objects reached its height during the third quarter of the eighteenth century when Prince William V was preparing to ascend the crown. William V was the last stadholder of the Dutch Republic. He was unable to prevent the fourth Anglo-Dutch war that resulted in the loss of many of the Dutch colonies. The economic fragility of his reign aroused hostility in the Patriots, a groups of discontented burghers who wished to restore the republic to its former glory. In 1785, an open conflict between the Orangists and the Patriots forced the Royal Couple to flee The Hague. With the help of Prussian troops, the Prince regained control of the country and restored his authority in 1787. However, only a few years later, France declared war with the United Provinces because of their alliance with England. In 1795, William V had to flee again with his family from Scheveningen to England. A few weeks later, the Prince was dismissed from his functions.

During the conflicts, the Orangists and the Patriots used the decorative arts as political propaganda. On Delftware, the Patriots depicted William, Wilhelmina and their children as wild pigs, trampling over the rights of the Dutch people. Meanwhile, the Orangists called the rebels mad dogs and madmen and continued to depict Prince William V on Delftware objects. These depictions of William V and symbols of the House of Orange are mostly found on dishes as well as plaques.

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