Artist/maker unknown, Dutch

Made in Delft, Netherlands, Europe


Tin-glazed earthenware with polychrome decoration

3 3/4 x 2 5/8 x 5 1/8 inches (9.5 x 6.7 x 13 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Bloomfield Moore Fund and with the gifts (by exchange) of Emmeline Reed Bedell and Edward W. Bok, 2002

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This brush is very rare because it has retained its original horsehair bristles. Such brushes were used to clean clothing or to wipe crumbs from the table, and often were given as bridal gifts. After the blue decoration was applied, the brush was fired at a high temperature; it was fired again at a lower temperature after the less heat-resistant colors (such as yellow, red, and green) were added.

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

    This faience brush is very rare because it retains its original brownish horsehair bristles fasted to the back with resin. It was made for practical use, not for show. A small hole was made for hanging it from a nail in the wall. Brushes like this one, which has three-inch bristles, were used either to brush clothes or to wipe crumbs from the table. Often given as bridal gifts, they may bear a date or monogram, but since they were not signed, the makers of these exceptional objects remain anonymous. Brush backs were also made of silver, but ones made of faience were more affordable.

    The painted decoration on a white ground on this brush takes the place of the embossing or engraving on silver brushes. The design reflects the influence of Chinese decoration fashionable at the time. The marbleized blue and green border is painted in reserve, whereby the background is painted in color, leaving the design motifs white. To obtain the different hues, the object had to be fired several times. The blue decoration was applied first and then fired at a temperature of about 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,750 degrees Fahrenheit). The subsequent colors required another firing, at a lower temperature, for the less fire-resistant colors such as yellow, red, and green. Ella B. Schaap, from Delft Ceramics at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2003), p. 24.