Majolique vase from Nevers

Majolique from Nevers

Thanks to the Marcel Van Rooy-Elise De Smet Fund, an exceptional Majolique vase has been added to the permanent collection of the future museum hub in Verviers, which will be located in the former Hôtel de Biolley.

Museum-quality maiolica

This extraordinaire polychrome maiolica vase, 30.5 centimetres tall and with a baluster form (pot-bellied with a cylindrical neck), was made in Nevers (France) between 1630 and 1650. Its rarity, the ‘grand feu’ design with a mythological theme and the excellent condition in which it has been preserved give it inestimable qualities. The piece will be of immense artistic and historic value for Verviers’ museum collection.

Neptune and Salacia

In the case of this vase, maiolica refers to Italian faience earthenware, primarily from the Renaissance era, with a tin glaze. Its form, design and colours are typical of pieces produced in 17th-century Nevers. From the end of the 16th century, this large centre of French production accommodated many Italian artisans who worked with the techniques and designs of their native regions. Nevers was the most important faience producer in France at that period, with its wares sold both nationally and internationally. The fêted ‘grand feu’ design on this vase is characteristic of designs described as second-generation ‘wavy blue background’: a typology of designs on a background of blue waves, emblematic of the late Renaissance style produced in Nevers between 1630 and 1650. Here we see a very interesting mythological design which typifies Italian iconographic traditions: Neptune, the god of the sea, bearing a trident and sitting astride a sea creature, is accompanied by his wife, Salacia, in the guise of a siren and their son, Triton. This theme is one of the great mythological events depicted in art since Roman times. The more purely Renaissance-style grotesques painted on the base of the vase, and the depictions of bunches of grapes and vine branches on its shoulder, are unique to pieces produced in Nevers.

New home for Verviers’ museums

The collections of the Verviers Fine Arts and Ceramics Museum (Musée des Beaux-Arts et de la Céramique) will soon be exhibited in Verviers’ new museum hub in the former Hôtel de Biolley, an 18th-century building. The had been made possible by a joint initiative between the Summa Villa Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, the Wallonia Heritage Agency (AwaP), the Wallonia Region, the French Community of Belgium and the City of Verviers.

Enriching ceramic collections

The aim of the Marcel Van Rooy-Elise De Smet Fund, which is managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, is to support Belgian museums that are renowned for their ceramics collections. This entails purchasing works of art in earthenware and porcelain, as well as supporting conservation projects and showcasing ceramics collections.


Faience with a tin glaze
Height: 30.5 cm
Type of acquisition: 
Acquired by the Marcel Van Rooy-Elise De Smet Fund
Year of acquisition: 
Depository institution: 
Verviers Fine Arts and Ceramics Museum (Musée des Beaux-Arts et de la Céramique)