Kunstconsult in Gemeentemuseum The Hague: Exhibition Art Nouveau in the Netherlands

Posted on 26 April 2018

It is no coincidence that the Gemeentemuseum van Kunstconsult wanted to borrow two Purmerendse Art Nouveau ceramic sculptures. These special pieces, the Javanese court dancer of Carel Wirtz and the Kneeling Javanese boy of August Falise, are fine examples of the influence of Indonesian art and culture on Dutch Art Nouveau. They are a wonderful illustration of the 'Desire for the East', an important theme in the Art Nouveau exhibition in the Netherlands.

Purmerends Art Nouveau

The Javanese court dancer of Carel Wirtz and the Kneeling Javanese boy of August Falance from the sales collection of Kunstconsult form a beautiful reflection of the Purmerendse Art Nouveau. At the beginning of the 20th century Purmerend formed an important center for Art Nouveau earthenware. One of the most prominent factories was N.V. Plateelbakkerij Haga. Renowned artists designed small ceramic sculptures for this earthenware factory. Artistically, these products were a great success. Nevertheless, Haga was less successful commercially: after three years the factory went bankrupt. The ceramic sculptures of Haga are unique and form a distinctive group within the Dutch Art Nouveau ceramics.


N.V. Plateelbakkerij Haga

N.V. Plateelbakkerij Haga was founded in 1904 when Plateelbakkerij Wed. N.S.A. Brantjes & Co. in Purmerend was taken over by N.V. Terracotta and Pottery factory Haga from The Hague. Haga settled in the old company building of Brantjes and was characterized in its short existence by its diverse production.


Sculptures by Haga

In addition to decorative pottery and tile tableaux, geometrically decorated tableware and small ceramic sculptures were also produced. Especially this last group, the sculptures, is special in the production of Haga. Nowhere else was this type of ceramics made with such a diversity of models and such a selection of artists. The designers included renowned sculptors and decorative artists like Chris van der Hoef, Johan Altorf, Henri Teixeira de Mattos, Meine Huisinga, August Falise, Toon Dupuis and Carel Wirtz. Each artist could express his own style when designing the sculpture.

Inspiration from the exotic

Many artists were convinced by the end of the 19th century that a new design language was needed. They wanted to oppose the often weak designs that were aimed at mass production as a result of the industrial revolution. Besides this they wanted to break free from the habit of following historical styles from the past.

Looking for a new contemporary style, artists were inspired, among other things, by the art from exotic countries. The opening of Japan to trade in the years 1854 to 1865 renewed European art in the following decades. Japonism also existed in the Netherlands and the Netherlands were directly connected to the East via the Dutch East Indies.


Javanese court dancer

After 1900, Javanese dance companies visited the Netherlands to perform for the royal family. It was perhaps these dancers that inspired sculptor Carel Wirtz to design a sculpture of a Javanese court dancer for Haga.

This special sculpture represents a dancer in a traditional Javanese dance posture, recognizable by the graceful, expressive hand movements and the controlled expression of the face. The dancer is adorned by a headdress and wears richly decorated clothing in beautiful colors. Several examples of this model have been preserved, each differing in terms of decoration and color. The specimen shown is in the sales collection of Kunstconsult.


Dutch exoticism

Renowned sculptor August Falise was also inspired by Javanese culture. Between 1904 and 1907 Falise designed for Haga a plastic of a kneeling Javanese boy, a fine example of Dutch exoticism. Falise has given the serene praying boy a Javanese appearance by a turban and loincloth decorated with dots.



The Javanese court dancers of C. Wirtz and the Kneeling Javanese boy of August Falise belong to the sales collection of Kunstconsult and are temporarily lend to the Gemeentemuseum for the exhibition Art Nouveau in the Netherlands.

Art Nouveau in the Netherlands, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, 21 April to 28 October 2018.


For sale

View the collection page for sales information about Haga's ceramics - including the Naked Boy with frog by Toon Dupuis shown below - and other Art Nouveau objects.


Further reading

An extensive article about the Purmerendse Art Nouveau-ceramics from Plateelbakkerij Haga has been published in Art Deco Magazine nr. 17. This summer issue 2018 contains a richly illustrated Art Nouveau special of 30 pages. Order a copy!

Photos: Albertine Dijkema and Erik Rijper


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