Decorative ceramic tiles panel

Workshops Boch Frères Keramis
ca. 1910

The Marcel Van Rooy – Elise De Smedt Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, has recently acquired a panel of decorative ceramic tiles from the early 20th century. It was made by the Keramis Boch Frères workshops in La Louvière. 

The panel, which is of great quality, is composed of around one hundred hand-made ceramic tiles, using the ‘cloisonné’ technique. Each design is separated by ‘cloisons’ of clay, before applying glazes of different colours. The technique is a long, difficult and delicate process, making this type of panel extremely costly.

The panel shows a windmill on a riverbank, along which a number of boats are sailing. The daily life of fishermen was a recurrent theme amongst artists in the 19th and 20th centuries, thanks to its picturesque and romantic notions. Fishing boats, the little fishermen’s cottages and the traditional shrimp boats along the beach attracted both Belgian and foreign tourists and artists.

During the 1910 Universal Exhibition of Brussels, a panel identical to this one – including even the signature in the lower right corner – was among the key works presented by Boch Frères, after which it took its place in the exhibition hall of the Keramis factory in the Place du Sablon in Brussels. It would seem that this was one and the same panel as that recently acquired by the King Baudouin Foundation.

Such a large panel and of such quality is rare and thus constitutes a major acquisition for the Marcel Van Rooy-Elise De Smedt Fund. The Fund concentrates on the acquisition and conservation of works of art in faience and porcelain with a view to promoting ceramic collections in Belgian museums. The work will be entrusted to Keramis, the Centre for Ceramics of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, which has been developed on the former site of the Boch workshops in La Louvière.

The Boch ceramics workshops in La Louvière were set up in the mid-19th century. It was as a result of the Belgian revolution and modifications in the frontiers of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, that the Boch family, which had hitherto been based in Septfontaines in Luxembourg, decided to build a ceramics factory in the Belgian province of Hainaut. The factory, named ‘Keramis’ in honour of the ceramic artists of Athens, was inaugurated in 1841. Thanks to its privileged position, as well as the experience and reputation previously established by the Boch ceramic artists, the factory soon achieved considerable success. It was visited by royalty and won numerous awards at international exhibitions.


Decorative ceramic tiles panel
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Acquired by the Marcel Van Rooy – Elise De Smedt Fonds
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