These pillar candlesticks on a round, flattened ball-shaped base with column and shaft are painted in chinoiserie style with depictions of Chinese people in landscapes with trees and shrubs. The candlesticks’ shape derives from European models made of silver, which first appeared around 1650. This model became extremely popular and was produced in a wide range of variants and materials: small versions, large versions, with ribbed bases or twisted columns, made of silver, tin, or brass – even white and painted Delftware and simple lead-glaze earthenware.
Some candlesticks were part of a toilet service. These were generally smaller versions: the candlesticks in the silver toilet service manufactured in The Hague in 1653-1658 for Veronica van Aerssen van Sommelsdijk (on display in The Hague’s Kunstmuseum) are only 16.5 cm high. Silver variants of this model are also depicted in several paintings by Gerard ter Borch.
Candlesticks were always manufactured as one or more pairs and sold as such. The Durgerdam lottery sheet from 1689 lists a pair of silver candlesticks of this model, valued at 100 guilders, as the fifth prize.
These large Delftware table candlesticks were valued as highly as their silver counterparts in the final quarter of the seventeenth century. An ode to Castle Rosendaal from 1700 devoted special praise to a gift from Queen Mary Stuart to the castle’s resident, Johanna Margaretha van Arnhem:
Al wat men by en op een tafel heeft te setten
Is hier van porcelein: Een koelbak en lampetten
Veel schotels, groot en klein, vier arremkandelaars,
En and’re, die men set op tafel met een kaars,
Sout-,Suyker-, peper-vat, geen lepels uitgesondert,
En wat dan huisraad eyscht: so dat sich elk verwonderd
Der Fraaje vinding, meer dan om de Delffsche konst,
Die in dit proeffstuk blykt van ’s Koninginnes gonst (note 1).
The “Delffsche Konst” (Delftish artifice) – the porcelain tableware – which this poem refers to was a gift from the Queen, who had filled her palaces with Delftware in all shapes and sizes. Highly appreciated among the elite and universally praised, Delftware was not just admired but actually used on special occasions, set upon tables spread with damask cloth. The well-wrought poem above and the dimensions of this early pair of candlesticks imply that they were used on dinner tables.
These specific candlesticks were crafted at De Grieksche A under Samuel van Eenhoorn. Founded in 1658 by Samuel’s father, the factory was gifted to him for his wedding in 1678, although it is most likely that he worked in the factory for a number of years in order to master the potter’s craft before he became its owner. Sadly, the young master potter only managed the factory for seven years before his death in 1685. His initials, which served as the factory’s trademark during that time, remained in use for more than a year after his passing. In 1687, Samuel’s widow sold the factory to her brother-in-law, Adrianus Kocx. Many of the objects produced under Samuel van Eenhoorn’s management were decorated with chinoiserie motifs, as is the case with these two candlesticks. The dark blue hue of the paint and the various different shades of blue indicate that this pair was produced early on in the seven-year period of Samuel’s ownership of the factory.
Very few Delftware versions of this large candlestick model have survived to this day. One important reason for this scarcity must be the manner in which these candlesticks were fabricated in Delft. As craftsmen were wont to do with silver candlesticks, the column and base were crafted separately. In Delft, the base and the hollow column with its large knop were hand-turned separately, then combined. In silver candlesticks, the base and column were soldered together; when working with earthenware, however, they were glued together using a clay paste. This method created a weak bond, and it is likely that many candlesticks were already ruined during the production process as a result, especially in the bisque firing phase. Covered with tin glaze, painted with attractive decorations and fired for a second time, these candlesticks were distributed throughout Europe. In the centuries since, the vast majority was likely damaged or broken through use and ultimately thrown away. After all, setting them on the table in a robust manner or attempting to remove accumulated wax could cause them to break.
This is probably why such candlestick pairs became so rare over the past 350 years. To the best of our knowledge, there exists no other pair of this size and model from the latter half of the seventeenth century. The list below consists only of round candlesticks with a minimum height of 20 cm dating from before c. 1700. Candlestick models à la financière and a few smaller versions crafted before 1700 were not included.
A single specimen, marked “SVE”, with chinoiserie decoration, exists in the collection of Kunstmuseum in The Hague, height 25.7 cm (inv.no. OC(D)1-1965).
A second individual specimen, marked “SVE”, with a ridged base and a fluted column, exists in the collection of Rijksmuseum, height 25.5 cm (inv.no. BK-1958-22).
A single specimen marked “SVE8” with floral decoration exists in the collection of the Royal Museum of Art and History in Brussels, height 25.7 cm (inv.no. Ev.626).
Two pairs, marked “LvE”, with twisted columns and fine floral patterns, produced shortly after 1700, exist at Het Loo Palace, height 20 cm (inv.no. RL 978 1-2, RL 6368 1-2).
An unmarked early candlestick, dating from around 1660, exists in the collection of Rijksmuseum. This specimen with subsequently added bobèche has a height of 31 cm. (inv.no. BK-NM-5182).
An unmarked candlestick exists in the collection of Museum in Arnhem, height 22.5 cm (inv.no. AB 8294).
1 Johannes d’Outrein, Roosendaalsche vermaaklykheden of Wegwyser door de Heerlykheit Roosendaal (Amsterdam 1700, 1712, 1718). The work is an ode praising the beauty and the various artworks of Castle Roosendaal.
M. Van Aken Fehmers, Delfts Aardewerk, Geschiedenis van een nationaal product, Zwolle 1999, p. 96.
J.D. van Dam, Delffse Porceleyne, Dutch delftware 1620-1850, Zwolle 2004, p. 82.
A.M.L.E. Erkelens, ’s Koninginnes Gonst, Delftse vazen van Mary Stuart’, Antiek 23e jaargang no. 3 (1988), pp. 88-92.
A.M.L.E. Erkelens, Delffs Porcelijn' van koningin Mary II: ceramiek op Het Loo uit de tijd van Willem III en Mary II, Zwolle 1996, pp. 140-142.
J. ter Molen, ‘de loterijprent van Durgerdam’, Antiek 27e jaargang no.3 (1992-1993), pp. 115, 116.
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