Between art and kitsch: Different museums 1 – from antique family furniture to a Berlage clock – Between art and kitsch

In the broadcast of Between Art and Kitsch on Monday 23 January 2023 from among others the Limburgs Museum, the War Museum Overloon and the Museum Arnhem, Anna Laméris gets two tiles at the table that are rarely seen, a Berlage clock ticks at Rob Driessen’s table and Paul van Rosmalen shines his light on a battered painting.

Iznik and Damascus tiles

tile Iznik

damask tiles

  • Image: twisted branches with flowers
  • Origin: Iznik and Damascus
  • Date: 17th century
  • Material: earthenware with glaze and lead glaze

During their courtship, Mr. and Mrs. often visited antique dealers and markets. Mister’s aunt gave away her things with ‘the warm hand’. She had bought these tiles from the Mak van Waay auction house at Rokin in Amsterdam. She had no children herself and has given several things over the years.

The tiles have never been evaluated. One hangs at home and the other is in the china cabinet. They enjoy it daily for 50 years. They have daughters of their own, but they don’t care about antiques. Therefore, they now want to see what it is worth and maybe sell it. They have a very modern interior, and they have furnished one corner with the antique ‘family furniture’.

Anna Laméris: The tiles are beautifully colored and painted with sinuous lines of flowers that continue on other tiles. It is called an arabesque. Entire mosques and palaces were covered with these tiles, from bottom to top. These are the border tiles that you see around a carpet of tiles or a prayer rug on the wall of tiles.

The tile with bright colors is made in Iznik. It is located about 100 kilometers below Istanbul, by a lake from which they could extract clay. It was then the Ottoman Empire. You can see that influence in the sinuous lines. But there was also a lot of trade with China, and Chinese porcelain was popular. They therefore adopted Chinese motifs – the leaves are typical of Chinese porcelain. The heyday of the Iznik tile was in the second half of the 16th century, when there was a certain color red, but it became too expensive to produce. This one is from the 17th century when they made another color red, less bright and therefore less valuable. Characteristic is the layer of lead glaze that makes the tile shiny.

The second tile was made in Damascus, the capital of Syria and is located about 1500 km below Iznik. The mixed style of Chinese and Ottoman was adopted there. But the patterns are painted much more freely, which is perceived by some as more artistic.

Pendant with two candlesticks

fireplace clock with two candlesticks
  • Image: stylized hourglass
  • Manufacturer: HP Berlage
  • Origin: Amsterdam (Binnenhuis)
  • Date: about 1902
  • Material: Brass (yellow copper)
  • Dimensions: 34 cm high, 18 cm wide

The lady bought the watch in a shop in Helmond in the 1960s, she liked it and it is now in the bedroom. The watch always moved with her to new homes. She then paid 50 guilders for it. She knows it’s a Berlage watch. She has lights in the candlesticks, but she never lights them.

Rob Driessen: Berlage was a socialist, he wanted the working class to throw aside kitsch and be able to have this kind of honest design around him. But he really only sold these kinds of watches to modern, well-to-do people. Several dozen were made. This clock is a building in miniature. No frills, but sober, with an emphasis on construction, that was Berlage’s trademark.

The way the watch is made is emphasized with many rivets. All decoration must emphasize the construction. Without frills, in his architecture he used only bricks with sober ornaments. The shape and construction are the most important. The hourglass on the front represents the passage of time. In the 19th century, watch sets were still very lavish with bells and whistles and female figures. In this watch, on the other hand, you see more of the technical style of the Eiffel Tower, which was made twelve years earlier.

The watch is special, but in poor condition. It is dented and unfortunately polished too much, the white seams are also remnants of polish. The candlesticks are in the same style and possibly also by Berlage, but they were probably made a little earlier than the bell.

A Degouve de Nuncques painting

  • Image: farm in hilly landscape
  • Maker: William Degouve de Nuncques 1867-1935
  • Origin: Brussels area
  • Date: 1900-1914
  • Material: oil paint on cardboard
  • Dimensions: 40 cm high, 55 cm wide

The painting comes from my father’s family. He probably bought it at an auction in Belgium. His father lived in Belgium for 25 years. He loved art, buying paintings and ivory at auctions and art markets. Father is now dead, this painting now belongs to the four children and they have not shared it yet. Therefore, he now wants to know what it is worth. In 1955 it was at an exhibition in De Lakenhal, as can be seen from a sticker on the back.

Paul van Rosmalen: The painter Degouve de Nuncques came from a wealthy family that allowed him to become an artist. Although he had no academic training, he got many tips from Les Vingt, a group of artists who were friends with James Ensor, etc. The First World War brought him to Holland, in Blaricum he was discovered by HP Bremmer, the art educator. She presented it to Helene Kröller Müller, who loved it. She bought no less than 27 of his paintings, which is why he also became quite famous. They are still in the Kröller Müller Museum today. ⇒ Also thanks to Bremmer, Helene Kröller-Müller bought her first Van Gogh

He has a very dry touch, you can recognize the artist by that. It’s a little grainy, he uses a little paint. He paints on cardboard, he might as well have made this on the spot. His rarest work is symbolism from before 1900. His work after the war ages a lot, all color disappears, then it becomes less interesting.

Sent on Monday 23 January at 21.30 on NPO 1 (after that the broadcast can be seen again on NPO Start)

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