Vase in the Form of a Gourd

Artist/maker unknown, Dutch

Made in Delft, Netherlands, Europe


Tin-glazed earthenware

12 3/4 x 6 1/4 inches (32.4 x 15.9 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Bequest of Emmeline Reed Bedell for the Bradbury Bedell Memorial Collection, 1921

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These landscape and river scenes show trees and figures in the Chinese style.

Additional information:
  • PublicationDelft Ceramics at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    This vase, and the following pair of vases (see Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1921-3-159, 160), may have been modeled after Persian flasks, which they resemble in shape. Vases of this distinctive shape began to be produced in Delft before the end of the seventeenth century. Their exotic origin and decorative features ensured their popularity through the eighteenth century. Using readily available Eastern prints as sources, the artist painted this vase with Chinese scenes that evoke wide views and nature in the round. Although the vase bears no maker's mark, the exceptional quality of decoration indicates that it was produced by one of the foremost Delft potteries. The beautiful, soft blue decoration tinged with violet contrasts with the darker trek, or outline drawn in dark pigment with an extremely fine, stiff brush. Painters fashioned these special brushes themselves of hair from the ear of a cow or a donkey.

    The base is decorated with Chinese-style repeated lotus panels, and the bottom of the neck and the lip are ornamented with encircling bands of auspicious ruyi motifs. This is a very common device in Chinese ceramics; ruyi means "may your wish be granted." Its shape is that of an S terminating on one side with a rounded end. The motif is often linked in a row to form a border, such as on this vase. Ella B. Schaap, from Delft Ceramics at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2003), p. 40.