We can see wonderful examples of the applied arts in many places in The Hague. I found the following definition on Wikipedia: Applied arts are the aesthetic design of functional objects such as buildings, furniture, clothing, printed matter and so on. In contrast to the non-functional, autonomous expressions of visual art, applied arts designs also have a practical use, a function.
In 1904, there was a ‘‘Tentoonstelling van Kunstnijverheid’ (‘Exhibition of Applied Arts’) organised by the ‘Nederlandsche Vereeniging tot Bevordering van Kunstnijverheid Arti et Industriae’ (Dutch Association for the Promotion of Applied Arts) in the former Buitenrust Palace (now demolished) at Scheveningseweg.
Arti et Industriae
The association was also called ‘Arti en Industriae’ for short. Founded in 1884, it wanted to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 1904 with a beautiful exhibition. Works submitted by 70 working members were displayed in the various halls. After strolling past the many exhibits, those who wished to rest could do so in the palace’s leafy garden. An advertisement in the Haagsche Courant of 1 August 1904 explicitly stated: ‘In the lovely garden behind the palace, buffets are available’. Thus offering nourishment to visitors’ bodies as well as their art-loving souls.
The same advertisement also listed the admission prices. Normally, visitors paid fl. 0.25, but on Thursdays they paid double: fl. 0.50. Later it was announced that ‘In order to enable working people to visit the exhibition – something that can be called of great importance to them – the exhibition will be open on two Sundays at a charge of only ƒ0.10’. Converted on the website of the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), that dime would now be about €1.32.
Much of the silverware on show came from well-known firms Van Kempen & Begeer. They displayed medals, commemorative medallions and tableware. Later on, these companies merged and the company formed thereafter still exists.
Silverware from the collection of the Dutch Royal Family was also on display, including a book with a cover decorated with silver.
Royal interest in applied arts
Members of the Royal Family, including Queen Wilhelmina and her husband Prince Hendrik, visited the exhibition. Queen Mother Emma apparently found the exhibition so interesting that she came twice. The second visit was announced in the newspaper with the addition: ‘The exhibition will not be closed to the public, but the entrance fee for that day is fl. 0.50’.
Emma’s second visit was on 20 September and she had another important appointment in her diary that day: to attend the joint session of the States General where her daughter Wilhelmina delivered the speech from the throne. In other words, that day was Prinsjesdag. But Emma apparently still had enough time and energy left to visit the arts and crafts exhibition later that afternoon
In the ceramics department we also come across familiar names of still existing producers of earthenware and porcelain: De Porceleijne Fles from Delft, Tichelaar from Makkum. And of course our own ceramics factory Rozenburg in The Hague, sadly no longer in existence. The Nieuwe Courant praised the products of Dutch pottery and considered this section to be one of the most successful parts of the exhibition.
I am a great fan of the beautiful vases and tableware by Rozenburg. Various museums in the Netherlands have them in their collections, and if you bring along a well-filled wallet, they are also for sale at specialised galleries such as the Haagse Salon on the Laan van Meerdervoort. But when you look at the fragile porcelain, you might wonder whether this is applied art with a practical purpose. In any case, I wouldn’t dare drink my tea from it.
Chairs from the Court of Arbitration
The Permanent Court of Arbitration, an organisation established in 1899 during the first international Peace Conference in the Hague, supported the exhibition by lending 20 chairs. The backs of the chairs were embroidered with the coats of arms of the various countries represented at the Court. At the time, the Court was still located at Prinsegracht 71 and was to move to its specially built location, the Peace Palace, in 1913.
Art Nouveau Festijn
Applied arts will soon get special attention during the Art Nouveau Festijn – The Hague around 1900. From Friday 10 to Sunday 12 June, you can enjoy lectures, performances, walks, tours and bike rides. And also of a vegetarian meal in the beautiful building that was once Hotel Pomona. I do the walk Shop Architecture, the cycle tour along Art Nouveau buildings in the 19th century districts of The Hague and the cycle tour along buildings by Berlage and his contemporaries (all tours in Dutch). More information: www.artnouveaufestijn.nl . You will see there is one guided tour in English in the program.
Of course, you can also ask me to organise a city walk or cycle tour for you and your family and friends at a different time. You can choose from various themes from The Hague around 1900 or we can do a mix.