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Porceleyne Fles


The Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles / Royal Delft is the only remaining factory of the 32 earthenware factories that were established in Delft in the 17th century. De Porceleyne Fles was founded in 1653 and its premises have been located on the same spot ever since.

fles-icon.gifIt got famous when Joost Thooft took over this small factory in Delft in 1876. He produced traditional blue on white Delft ware and tile tableaus but with a new technique and started to use other colors like red and green.

At 32 years old Joost Thooft inherited the money to buy The Porceleyne Fles from his wealthy wife Sophie Held. She died very young of cholera in 1874. Joost then returned from Frankfurt in Germany to Rotterdam where he was born. He developed a passion for collecting old delftware and a deep interest in the technique of manufacturing it. After he bought "his factory" he showed an insatiable hunger for knowledge about "his" product and followed free courses at the (later) Technical University in Delft where Adolf Le Comte was his teacher. Le Comte had a great influence in the plans to bring new life into the old and glorious tradition of the factory.

In 1881 Abel Labouchère joined the company. He also was a pupil of Le Comte and tackled the chalenge to improve the production process with great enthousiasm and wih succes. Three years later Thooft made him an associate. In 1885 Joost was forced to retire as a manager because of a brain haemorrhage and was succeeded by the 25-year old Abel. Joost died at the age of 46 in 1890 and his companion Abel Labouchère got into charge and headed the company alone until 1903 when a board of directors was set up. Labouchere, Le Comte and Mauser were the main shareholders.

In 1919 their efforts were rewarded and the factory received the designation `Royal`.

The painters of Royal Delft are trained in the factory starting off with simple designs in blue/white on the smaller pieces. A painter first has to learn how to paint the little flowers and leaves that so characteristically adorn Delftware vases and the borders of Delftware plates. The painters then gradually progress to larger pieces with more complicated designs. Only the master painters, who have trained at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague paint the elaborate landscape and Dutch masters pieces.

The Porceleijne Fles is still operational and with the renewed interest in Delft Blue it is very much alive.