I’m always astonished to see how people get inspired by famous art to create something beautiful out of it. And I’m not sure there could be something more amazing than combining the traditional Dutch tile production with paintings created by some of the masters from the Netherlands. The results are some of the most beautiful Dutch art reproductions.
Dutch Art Reproductions
*This post was created in collaboration with Visionplay. This company creates art reproductions on canvases and tile tableaus of some famous Dutch paintings. Check out the blog post for more info about them.
The Netherlands has a rich tradition of tile production. It all started at the beginning of the 17th century when Italian craftsmen brought the technique of producing elegant tiles with tin glaze into the Netherlands. Dutch were already in love with beautiful Chinese porcelain, and around the 1620s they started their own production.
When I began my research into Dutch tiles, I first went to the home of the most extensive collection of the Dutch Golden Age art – to the Rijksmuseum. There, I was stunned by all the different motives and beautiful vivid colours of the Delft tiles. From the most exotic animals, sea monsters, mythological and biblical scenes, to tulips and all the different floral motives, they were all there.
I learned how those lovely white tiles with recognisable blue decoration were first used as wall tiles on the inside of fireplaces during the 17th century. They could resist the heat, were easy to clean and became a source of decoration in the living rooms.
With time, they were also used on the walls, mostly to cover the humidity stains and often placed just above the floor. This is visible on many 17th century Dutch paintings. Probably the most famous one is Vermeer’s ‘The Milkmaid’. It’s also something you can still see in many canal houses in Amsterdam today (for example, in the Rembrandthuis Museum).
The Netherlands was one of the biggest ceramic tile producers in the world during the 17th and 18th century. At that time, more than 800 million tiles were made in the workshops around the country. And they were still popular in the 19th century. Then, with new technologies, tiles became firmer and more colourful and could be used outside on the façades of buildings. So, that’s when most of those beautiful tiles in the doorways of houses in Amsterdam were made.
A modern twist on a traditional technique
Still today, ceramic tiles, old and new, are beloved in the Netherlands. Recently, I visited a unique Dutch company that is preserving that connection between the old tradition of tile making and famous Dutch artists. And they are doing that with a great modern twist.
When I first came to the Visionplay studio, I was amazed by the welcoming feeling and many colourful reproductions that were literally everywhere. It was like stepping into the historical artist workshop, only everything seemed modern, light and tidy. I was surrounded by famous Dutch paintings I knew from the Rijksmuseum and Mauritshuis. But, they had a bit of a different appearance. They were reproduced on ceramic tiles. With the light reflecting on them, it was almost like they have been given a new life.
Dutch art reproductions on tile tableaus
While sipping cappuccino with Monique and Stephan, who founded their company back in 1997, they explained to me how they make their tile tableaus with Dutch art reproductions. The starting point of a quality reproduction is always a high-resolution digital file given and approved by the museum. Then, with the use of the latest techniques, examining and sometimes correcting the colours, and by using only high-quality materials, they create an exceptional final product.
That focus on the art value and quality is something that could be felt in everything Monique and Stephan are doing. Sitting there, listening to them talking with both passion and knowledge about their work, almost made me feel like I was a customer in an art studio back in the Dutch Golden Age. Their enthusiastic explanation about techniques and matching colours, made me feel as if I was listening to Johannes Vermeer in his studio in Delft, telling me about that precious new Lapis Lazuli pigment. And the way they explained to me about all the different possibilities of having tile tableaus in your interior, and how each order is custom made, was almost like I was discussing the size of my new portrait painting with Rembrandt in his shop in Amsterdam.
To honour the year of Rembrandt in the Netherlands, they recently created a reproduction of his famous ‘The Night Watch’ on a tableau consisting of 320 tiles, with a size of 200 x 160 cm. It was on display at the exhibition in Dutch Design Hotel Artemis in Amsterdam from June till October this year.
One of my favourite pieces and the most recent addition to their collection is a reproduction of a tile tableau, consisting of 96 tiles of 10 x 1o cm. The original is part of the Rijksmuseum collection, and it was made back in 1725.
*TIP: This lovely tile tableau is going to be available for sale in the Rijksmuseum webshop from mid-November. So keep an eye on it, if you would like to order it for yourself.
Art Nouveau: Renovating and recreating tiles dating from 1901
Next to reproducing artworks from old Dutch masters, Visionplay has also been involved in several renovation projects. One large project was the renovation and reconstruction of the Art Nouveau tiles dating from 1901 at the luxurious Conservatorium Hotel in Amsterdam. Before the hotel opened its doors in 2008, they wanted to restore its amazing Art Nouveau interior. So, Monique and Stephan took the job of restoring the original tiles. As they told me, it was a real test for their colour expertise because the original tiles were hand-painted, and they were all slightly different from each other. To get the right colours, they would come to look at them in the morning, afternoon and evening to capture the right shades. It’s a masterpiece in modern tile restoration, and there is probably no one else who could do a better job than them.
How can you get your own ceramic tile tableau
Coming back to those 17th century wall tiles that were so typical in canal houses in Amsterdam, I found the work of Visionplay to be such a great extension of that old Dutch tradition. Having some of those tile tableaus in your house is almost like bringing a piece of history back into your home.
All of their tile tableaus with Dutch art reproductions on them are custom made. However, in their webshop you can choose from a few standard sizes, that could be easily delivered and placed on your wall. They are mounted on wooden board, and are delivered with a good hanging device so you can hang them easily at home.
Working together with some of the most famous Dutch museums, like the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Mauritshuis and Kröller-Müller Museum, they can create a tile tableau reproduction of almost any artwork from these museum’s collections.
Visionplay products are being sold in the gift shops and webshops of the Dutch museums. But you can also check them out in their own Dutch Art Reproductions Webshop (here is the link). However, the same as in Rembrandt’s atelier, you can always visit them in their studio in Amsterdam Noord, have a cappuccino and take a look at their work.
*This is a sponsored post created in collaboration with Visionplay – Dutch Art Reproductions. However, all reviews and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.