Plaque of a Church Interior

Artist/maker unknown, Dutch

Made in Delft, Netherlands, Europe

c. 1670

Tin-glazed earthenware with blue decoration; reverse unglazed

9 11/16 x 7 15/16 inches (24.6 x 20.2 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

* Gallery 261, European Art 1500-1850, second floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased in honor of Ella Schaap with the Elizabeth Wandell Smith Fund, the John T. Morris Fund, funds contributed by Ida Schmertz, Martina and Michael Yamin, and members of the European Decorative Arts Committee, 2011

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In the mid-seventeenth century the Dutch city of Delft was a center of artistic activity, and its thriving ceramic industry began to produce tin-glazed earthenware tile plaques, which were often called “porcelain paintings” because they were hung on walls as decoration in the same way paintings would have been displayed. Made between 1650 and 1800, these plaques were manufactured from a single slab of clay and were usually framed. Prints often served as the principal source for their blue-and-white decoration.

Petrus de Witte’s frontispiece to The Heidelberg Catechism, published in 1663, served as the inspiration for this plaque, which shows the interior of a Gothic church. In the background a large group gathers around a minister who conducts a catechistic discourse at the base of a pulpit inscribed with the numeral “9.” The numbers found on plaques of this sort indicate the psalm number that is the subject of the preacher’s sermon.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.