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Leonaert Bramer (1596-1674) als ontwerper van decoratie op Delfts aardewerk

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image of Oud Holland - Quarterly for Dutch Art History

The Delft artist Leonaert Bramer (1596-1574) appears to have been intensively involved in the decoration of Delftware. Hitherto four separate examples were known, mostly dating from the 1650s and 1660s (figs.1, 2, 4, 6). The article presents ten (perhaps eleven) new examples of 'Bramer ware' (figs. 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23(?), 26; see also note 19) produced between possibly as early as 1630 and 1670. Furthermore, eight of his designs have been found in the archives of the Koninklijke Tichelaar Makkum pottery; the compositions were 'pounced' onto the pottery, i.e. stencilled by dusting powder through a pricked paper pattern (figs. 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32). Two early series of drawings by Bramer from the 1630s (most of them in London-scenes from the Old Testament-and Bremenscenes from the New Testament), or derivations from them, seem to have frequently served as patterns for pottery painters (figs. 3-21). Oddly, one of these compositions, Joseph cast into the well by his brothers (fig. 10), occurs on a dish decorated with grotesques which is often regarded as Haarlem work (fig. 11). The use of a Delft artist's composition, combined with the fact that Marion van Aken-Fehmers (Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague) has traced a similar grotesque dish bearing the mark of the Delft pottery 'De Porceleyne Bijl' (see note 18), clearly shows that I laarlem did not have a monopoly on grotesques. A total of ten pounces are kept at Makkum: four drawings by Bramer (figs. 24, 25, 27, 29; two pricked repeats of the composition Jacob's Dream: fig. 28) and four pricked stencils (figs. 31, 32). Stylistically, the drawings can be dated to the late 1650s. All ten are pricked along the outlines; the four original drawings are 'matrixes', the others were used as stencils. The composition of Judah and Tamar (fig. 25) is virtually identical with Bramer's version of twenty years earlier. The Judah and Tamar pounce was used until well into the 18th century, judging by a plate dated 1783 in Paris (fig. 26). The coarse manner of painting demonstrates that the use of a pricked paper pattern based on the design of a professional artist was no guarantee for the quality of the result, which depends enti rely on the pottery painter. This accounts for the frequently mediocre standard of the painting on most plates. Nevertheless, a few plates and dishes display painting of such high quality and a manner so similar to Bramer's that it is not unlikely that they were painted by the Delft artist himself (figs. 2, 6, 21). 'Bramer ware' is unmarked. However, on grounds of circumstantial evidence three potteries can be identified where Bramer ware might have been produced: 'De Porceleyne Fles', 'De Grieksche A' and 'De Dissel'. 'De Dissel', where Abraham de Cooge worked, is a likely candidate, in view of a large series of drawings which Bramer made for De Cooge in 1646 (see note 7). In the past, much surprise has been evinced at the gap between the artists of Delft and the potters and decorators of pottery. Despite the heyday of both painting and the pottery industry in Delft in the mid-17th century, and despite the fact that artists and potters were members of the same guild, they seem to have operated quite separately. The material assembled here has brought artists and potters a little closer to each other.


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