Mouse

Artist/maker unknown, Dutch

Geography:
Made in Delft, Netherlands, Europe

Date:
1760-80

Medium:
Tin-glazed earthenware with polychrome decoration

Dimensions:
1 3/4 × 2 7/8 × 4 1/4 inches (4.4 × 7.3 × 10.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1997-2-1

Credit Line:
Purchased with funds (by exchange) from the bequest of Emmeline Reed Bedell, the gift of Edward W. Bok, the Bloomfield Moore Collection, the gift of William Ellis Scull, the gift of Mrs. Albert P. Brubaker, the bequest of John W. Pepper, and the Elizabeth Wandell Smith Fund, 1997

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Label:
This whimsical mouse demonstrates that Delft earthenware comes in a variety of shapes and colors. Only a few Delft mice are known today, and this piece is extraordinary in its quality. It may have been a special commission that was not in general production like other surviving animal figurines. Delft cows and horses are fairly common; those of camels, lions, monkeys, and elephants are more rare.

Additional information:
  • PublicationDelft Ceramics at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    This whimsical little mouse, whose appearance tends to elicit a humorous reaction in the viewer, demonstrates that Delft earthenware comes in a variety of shapes and in many colors other than blue and white. Ceramic animals were a favorite product in China during the Kangxi Period (1662-1722) and were imported by the Dutch East India Company. Delft potters were inspired by these Chinese models and produced their own animal figurines, especially in the second half of the eighteenth century. Dutch potters were most successful when they represented domestic animals. Figurines of cows and horses are fairly common in Delft, although they were almost never marked by their makers; camels, lions, monkeys, and elephants are more rare, but this ceramic mouse is exceptional. Its quality and rarity are extraordinary, and it may have been a special commission that was not in general production like other surviving animal figurines. Figurines resembling this mouse, without a specific date or mark, are in the collection of the Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire in Brussels. The published description identifies them as rats.1

    The Dutch word for mouse is muis (or muys), which leads to the interesting speculation that this highly unusual figurine might have been made for the family of painters with that name: Willem Muys (1712 - 1764) and his sons Nicolaas (1740 - 1808) and Robert. Ella B. Schaap, from Delft Ceramics at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2003), p. 66.

    1. Helbig, Jean. Faïences hollandaises, XVIIe-XVIIIe-- début XIXe siècle. Brussels: Musées Royaux D'Art et d'Histoire, n.d., pp. 65, 67.