Dear Helaine and Joe:
I understand you are quite the antiques experts. I have an item that may be of value and am reaching out for your professional opinion. My grandmother gave me this Delft tile. It is 8 by 10 inches, in an antique walnut frame, and is signed "A. Mauve" for painter Anton Mauve. Thank you for your feedback.
G. M., Manchester, N. H.
Dear G. M.:
We tend to avoid the term "antiques experts" whenever possible.
Yes, we are both antiques appraisers with decades of experience, but what we do is careful research. We tend to think of ourselves as being art and antiques "specialists," not experts. We have both been "expert" witnesses in courts of law, but still, the term is a bit too unwieldy for our personal tastes.
With that said, this lovely blue and white porcelain plaque was made by De Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles (sometimes called "Porcelain Fles" or "Royal Delft"), which has been located in Delft, Holland since 1653. The term "Porceleyne Fles" means "the porcelain jar."
The company was reportedly founded by David Anthonisz van der Pieth in his home, but the company has changed hands with some frequency over the centuries. In 1876, the factory was taken over by Joost Thooft, who wanted to repopularize the famous Delft blue and white ware, and the piece is an example of that effort.
Royal Delft is still in business and is the only surviving Delft factory out of more than 30 that were established in the 17th century. The product called Delft is earthenware covered with an opaque white glaze made using tin oxide that is usually called a tin glaze.
G. M. sent photographs of the back of the piece, and below the factory marks are the mark of the painter and a date letter. No, this charming genre scene of the inside of a Dutch home was not painted by Anton Mauve (1838-1888), who was a realist and an important early influence on Vincent van Gogh.
Mauve was known for his realistic depictions of outdoor scenes (sheep, cows, horses), but he also painted some domestic scenes very similar to the one found on the plaque in today's question. But there are two major flaws with the notion that Mauve painted the piece himself.
The first is there is no record (that we could find) of Mauve ever having done work for Royal Delft. The second is this particular tile appears to have a date letter on it (a "T"), which was the code the company used for items made in 1898, or 10 years after Mauve's death.
The image on this piece would be termed "after Anton Mauve" and is not as detailed or as elaborate as some Royal Delft genre and landscape pieces can be. The plaque does appear to be in its original frame, and at auction, we feel it should bring between $750 and $1,000 and be insured for $2,000.
Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson have written a number of books on antiques. Do you have an item you'd like to know more about? Contact them at Joe Rosson, 2504 Seymour Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you'd like your question to be considered for their column, please include a high-resolution photo of the subject, which must be in focus, with your inquiry.