22 August 2012

Some Painted Tiles

As we chomped at the bit to head back over to the Netherlands to take possession of our skûtsje, Nieuwe Zorg, Edi dug-out some old tiles that had been in her family for more than half a century. These hand-painted tiles had come from the renovation of a house on Amsterdam's Keizersgracht. The houses there date from the seventeenth century and were once home to the city's wealthiest families, and some still are.

The tiles measure 152 X 152 millimetres and are about 9.5 millimetres thick with grooves for mortar on their backs. Each depicts a separate traditional scene. One is a scene of grazing cattle alongside a canal flanked by windmills. On the canal are two small boats.

Another of the tiles has several windmills and some people alongside a shoreline. Near the shore is a gaff-rigged barge, possibly a skûtsje under sail.

The third tile depicts three small tjalken, likely skûtsjes alongside the embankment of a small meer in front of some houses. In the background is another sailing vessel and a windmill.

The fourth tile shows a tjalk with a smaller sailing vessel alongside and a couple of punts nearby. On the shore are two windmills and in the background out into the meer are several large and small sailing craft.

The fifth tile is of a seaside scene of a fisherman and his wife lugging baskets of fish ashore from their tjalk, which is dried-out with the low tide. In the middle ground is a second dried-out tjalk with several people around it. In the background are other sailing vessels.

I spent a lot of time online looking for similar tiles, first searching through over a thousand Google images, then browsing over seven hundred eBay listings. I saw none similar, and only a tiny handful as finely done. 
We have decided to have these tiles appropriately framed to hang in the salon of our skûtsje.


  1. Amazing that these tiles survived all that traveling during so many years. It would indeed be interesting to find out more about their origins. The dimensions are anyway not standard but the pictures are truly Dutch anyway. Is there no sign at the back and what is the thickness?

    Great new site for your Skutsje ...

  2. Bram...I had made a measuring error on the tiles, and have corrected the text above from the 84.5mm. I had used a rule with Agate and Inches and automatically spurned the inches side and used the Agate without thinking. The tiles actually measure 152mm X 152mm and are about 9.5mm thick with grooves for mortar on their backs. I can see no makers marks on the backs.

  3. From a link that Bram sent us to the Dutch Tile Museum: http://www.geheugenvannederland.nl/?/nl/items/TM01:07380 the tiles have been identified as Villeroy & Bosh made between 1900 and 1925. The tile museum has a framed group of four of these tiles, three of which are identical to ours. Further searching through several thousand tile images on the internet found no other examples.