'Eggshell' porcelain teapot, made by the Rozenburg Factory

The Hague, Holland, AD 1899

This extraordinary teapot was designed by the architect J. Juriaan Kok (1861-1919), and the underglaze decoration was designed by the ceramic painter Wilhelmus Petrus Hartgring (1874-1940). It was made by the Rozenburg factory in Holland.

The pot, designed at the height of the fashion for Art Nouveau, is both organic and geometric, with a strangely contoured handle and spout and an irregular scrolling lid. Typical features of Art Nouveau style include exaggerated, wayward, asymmetrical shapes, and dynamic forms and patterns that embody a sense of movement and rhythm. Here the bold curves of the shape are combined with writhing fish and the waving seaweed patterns.

The vessel is made of 'eggshell' thin porcelain, slip-cast in a revolving mould, the liquid clay being spun outwards by centrifugal force. This meant that the handle and spout could be formed in one piece with the body, rather than being made separately and added on. In the squareness of its body the teapot shows the influence of Chinese vases, but in the choice of the fish subject matter, it reveals the continuing influence of Japonisme, the fashion for Japanese art in European design, popular since the 1860s.

It is still common in ceramic factories for shapes and patterns to be designed by different individuals. When this piece was made, however, some critics questioned whether the surface decoration really complemented the form.

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More information


J. Rudoe, Decorative arts 1850-1950: a c, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

Gemeentemuseum, Rozenburg 1883-1917, Geschiedn (The Hague, 1983)


Height: 14.200 cm (with lid)
Height: 14.200 cm (with lid)
Width: 14.100 cm (spout to handle)

Museum number

M&ME 1987,3-1,1



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