Bust of William I, King of the Netherlands

The Marcel Van Rooy – Élise De Smedt Fund recently purchased, at the BRAFA, a Tournai porcelain bust representing William I, Prince of Orange-Nassau and King of the Netherlands. The work was made for the 1820 Industrial Exhibition of Ghent.

The Marcel Van Rooy – Élise De Smedt Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, acquired this piece during the 2020 BRAFA art fair. The Fund is devoted to the acquisition and conservation of works of art in earthenware and porcelain with a view to promoting the ceramic collections of Belgian Museums.

This porcelain bust was made by the Manufacture de Tournai in the early 19th century to honour William 1st and presented at the 1820 Exhibition of National Industry in Ghent, where it was awarded a silver medal.

William Frederic, Prince of Orange-Nassau, lived in exile at the Prussian Court until the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte. At the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815), during which the European powers determined the new frontiers of Europe, William accepted the throne of the Netherlands, which at that time included the present-day Netherlands, Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

During this period, the porcelain makers of Tournai enjoyed the protection of the monarch and from 1750 their workshops, which made soft-paste porcelain, rivalled those of the greatest porcelain manufacturers in Europe. During Dutch rule (1815-1830), they were the only porcelain manufacturers to make such pieces.

This work is a beautiful example of the third period of Tournai porcelain production (roughly 1780-1830), during which classical, static works were created. The designs were sober, the contours taut and the shapes simplified.

Material / technique: 
H 31 cm
Type of acquisition: 
Acquired by the Marcel Van Rooy – Élise De Smedt Fund
Year of acquisition: