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Plates of the Twelve Months

Made by De Porceleyne Byl (The Porcelain Ax), Delft, 1657 - 1803. Under Justus Brouwer, active at De Porceleyne Byl (The Porcelain Ax) 1739 - 1775.

Made in Delft, Netherlands, Europe

c. 1770

Tin-glazed earthenware with blue decoration

Diameter: 8 7/8 inches (22.5 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Bequest of Emmeline Reed Bedell for the Bradbury Bedell Memorial Collection, 1921

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This plate belongs to a series of twelve that shows the passing of the seasons; each plate represents a month of the year. Such pieces, which are without foot rims on the bottom, are called pannekoeken bordjes, or pancake plates.

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

    This series of twelve plates shows the passing of the seasons. Each plate in this set represents a month of the year. Similar sets, depicting identical scenes for each month, were made by several workshops in Delft during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Month plates from earlier in the eighteenth century are more elaborate than these examples. Since the scenes show little variation from set to set, the pictures probably were extrapolated from contemporary prints, although the specific sources have not been identified. Each plate (except February) is inscribed with the name of the month in a cartouche encircled by a cloud. The compositions fill the entire surface of the plate, continuing over the border. Such plates, which are without foot rims on the bottom, are called pannekoeken bordjes, or pancake plates. The plates for February, March, and April depict the scenery within a frame. Plates depicting months when the trees are in leaf are bordered by foliage. The decorator of these plates simplified and emphasized the most characteristic features of each month:

    Jannuarij shows a typical Dutch winter scene, when the rivers and canals are frozen and the ice is safe for skating, with skaters wearing wooden skates tied onto their shoes. A tent serving hot cocoa and advertising its presence with a banner is set up on the ice.
    Februarij shows a domestic interior with a painting on the wall and plates on a rail above a fireplace with a roaring fire. Women and men are seated around a table set with food, and the men are smoking long-stemmed white pipes. A man sits by the fire, warming his hands and feet.
    In Maart a landowner and his wife are shown overseeing the preparation of flowerbeds by the gardener.
    In April a gardener is gathering flowers for the lady of the house. In the background is a gazebo built into the fence.
    Meij shows a pair of lovers behind a fence with a pastoral scene and a landscape in the background.
    In Junij a flock of sheep is being shorn.
    Julij shows a farmer raking seeds while another farmer in the shade of a tree is quenching his thirst.
    Augustus shows the cutting and binding of wheat into cone-shaped sheaves.
    September depicts peasants gathering apples.
    In October the gentlemen are tasting wine.
    In November a family is slaughtering their pig.
    In Dezember men are gathering wood for the coming winter. In the background is another skating scene, with the Dutch flag flying from the tent.
    Ella B. Schaap, from Delft Ceramics at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2003), p. 50.