The Dutch connection

The Diogenes Room at Dyrham, taking its name from the subject of the tapestries, and also featuring Delft flower pyramids and other vessels. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Dyrham Park, in Gloucestershire, has a variety of Dutch collections. I previously mentioned the Dutch paintings, but there is also a rare collection of seventeenth-century Delft glazed earthenware.

William Blathwayt (?1649-1717) by Michael Dahl. ©NTPL/Ian Blantern

These Delft vessels and flower stands were acquired by William Blathwayt during his travels on the Continent. As a high-ranking official under William III (if a slightly plodding one – he was known as ‘the elephant’) he frequently accompanied the Dutch king on his visits back to Holland.

One of the Delft flower holders at Dyrham. The painted decoration is derived from Chinese models, but the shapes are a Dutch Baroque invention. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The vogue for Delft blue and white was led by the king’s wife and co-regent, Queen Mary II, who assembled a large collection of it in the Water Gallery at Hampton Court Palace, where even the furniture was painted blue and white.

©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The displays of flowers in the Delft vases at Dyrham are echoed by the Netherlandish flower paintings in the house.

The State Bed seen in a mirror in the Damask Bedchamber, surrounded by yet more Delft. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The state bed is in the style of Daniel Marot, the architect and designer favoured by William III.

Embossed leather panels in the East Hall. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

William Blathwayt also imported stamped leather wallhangings from Holland. All these elements together create a remarkably Dutch ambiance in the middle of hilly Gloucestershire.

The house and the garden were acquired by the Ministry of Works in 1956 and, following extensive repairs, transferred to the National Trust in 1961. Funds for the acquisition came from the National Land Fund (now the National Heritage Memorial Fund), which had been set up to save places of national importance in memory of the sacrifices of the Second World War.

10 Responses to “The Dutch connection”

  1. columnist Says:

    The pyramidical tulipiere are indeed delightful, and more so when they are filled with their intended flora. I’m not quite sure how the water system works and whether you have to fill the entire vessel, or whether it can be done sectionally. If the former it would be quite a feat to fill it up and to drain it each time, providing an additional an unwanted need to pay very careful attention. It’s a wonder there are any left.

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    I believe each section is effectively a separate container, and with the pyramids the sections are loose as well, stacked on top of each other. So as you say watering would be a nerve-wracking excercise. For that reason I think they use good fake flowers at Dyrham!

    Recent research has found that in addition to tulips they used other flowers in them as well – which makes sense when one looks at the profusion of flowers in Dutch flower still-lifes.

  3. littleaugury Says:

    Nothing is more beautiful than Delft with highly polished wood. The delft tulipiere are something I would love to acquire one day. I have several white reproductions, one very tall all in sections- though tulips are I suppose preferred they get difficult to arrange unless stems are wired. They are just as lovely with no flowers in them. pgt

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    You obviously have a Baroque sensibility 🙂

  5. Jim of Olym Says:

    Any relationship between the blue Delft ware and the later ‘flow blue’ ceramics which became very popular in the 19th century? I see a lot of it here in the US, but not much Delft. I suppose the original inspiration comes from China.

    Myself, I like early copper lustreware!

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Jim, I am not aware of a direct connection, although some later Delft or Delft-style ceramics may have used the flow blue technique. I will ask a colleague.

  7. Janet Says:

    Lovely post! The English-Dutch connection is fascinating. Well, in fact so is the Asian-Dutch, American-Dutch….

  8. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Janet, perhaps you should do some posts on American-Dutch heritage, following your study-tour to Holland!

  9. Hels Says:

    I am besotted with Dutch influences outside the Netherlands, particularly with the arrival of William and Mary in Britain, and the expulsion of the Huguenots from France. I have been examining Eggington House in Bedfordshire, without knowing who the architect and interior designers were, so I was making a lot of educated guesses. Examining your post on Dyrham Park in Gloucestershire was very helpful since it was also influenced by King William’s and Marot’s taste – thanks for the link

  10. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Hels, thanks, I have read your post about Eggington House with interest.

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