Biblical Plaque showing Christ Putting Clay on the Eyes of the Blind Man

Artist/maker unknown, Dutch

Possibly made in Delft, Netherlands, Europe
Possibly made in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Europe
Possibly made in Schiedam, Netherlands, Europe


Tin-glazed earthenware with blue decoration

1/2 × 13 3/4 × 14 1/8 inches (1.3 × 34.9 × 35.9 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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The inscription on the front of this plaque identifies the biblical scene as John 9:1. Jesus and his disciples encounter a blind man, whom Jesus restores to sight. In the background, the Mount of Olives can be seen at right and the Pool of Siloam at right center.

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

    Biblical plaques such as this were unusual in Delft, and this one may have been made in Rotterdam or nearby Schiedam. This ornately shaped plaque was made to hang on a wall, probably in a farmhouse. Such biblical plaques were more common in rural areas, in place of expensive religious paintings. The scene depicts Christ surrounded by his Apostles, curing a blind man by daubing his eyes with mud. The inscription on the front of the plaque identifies the story from the Bible as John 9:1. The background behind Jesus and the Apostles is divided into two parts, with Roman columns on the left and an Italianate landscape with a hill and a castle on the right.

    This plaque, with the elegantly scalloped border painted in reserve and the intricate shell-shaped motifs in relief, was formed in a mold. The picture in the flat center was drawn by means of a spons, or transfer paper pricked with small holes defining the desired outlines. The spons was held above the plaque while finely powdered charcoal was forced through the holes. The charcoal outline obtained was redrawn with a fine brush, sometimes by an apprentice, and an experienced painter would finish the picture. A spons of the same image was used in reverse on a later plaque with a different baroque border that is in the collection of the Musée National de Céramique, Sèvres.1 Ella B. Schaap, from Delft Ceramics at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2003), p. 36.

    1. Lahaussois, Christine. Sèvres, Musée National de Céramique: Faïences de Delft. Paris: Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1998, p. 251, no. 298 (inv. LXV).