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Dutch Tiles
March 18, 1984 - May 13, 1984
Tile Panel: Star Tulips
Tile Panel: Star Tulips, 1600-1630
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Dutch Tiles
March 18, 1984 - May 13, 1984
The natural world of animals, flowers, and landscapes, the mythological realm of sea creatures, scenes of everyday life, and stories from the Bible all found their way into 17th-and 18th-century Dutch homes on colorful ceramic wall tiles. Installed around baseboards, wainscoting, and hearths, tiles were both decorative and functional, easily cleaned and well-suited to protect against the dampness of houses built along Holland's many canals and waterways.

The emergence of the Netherlands as a great seapower created a large demand on the part of wealthy burghers for fine furnishings. Their extraordinary decorative range, large production, and convenient format earned Dutch tiles an international reputation in the 17th century and opened markets throughout Europe and as far afield as the colonies.

This exhibition of some 1500 tiles dating from 1570 to 1850 includes an exceptionally large (7 by 10 feet) battle scene, one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by Dutch tilemakers. The Philadelphia Museum of Art's collection of polychrome, blue and white, and manganese-violet tiles is the most comprehensive in this country, largely due to the generous gift of Mrs. Francis P. Garvan.


The National Endowment for the Humanities
The Pew Memorial Trust
The National Endowment for the Arts


Ella B. Schaap