Frederik van Frytom (c. 1632-1702) is considered the most accomplished artist to have painted on Delftware.
He is known to have painted in oils but his greatest achievement was his work on Delft pottery for which he had an unparalleled sensitivity and where he achieved a remarkable technical and artistic mastery. He took the greatest care in the choice and preparation of high quality materials for his work and used a tin glaze of exceptional purity and a luminous and subtle cobalt blue.
His work sometimes depicts imaginary landscapes but often shows scenes from the neighbourhood of Delft and are probably after his own drawings. He does occasionally use engraved sources but in general they are his original compositions, original works of art.
Little is known of his early life, Vecht suggests that he was born around 1632 which would make him a near exact contemporary of Johannes Vermeer. They must surely have known each other as Vermeer was a member of the Guild of St. Luke in Delft and both artists belonged to the reformed (Calvinist) Church.
Van Frytom was not registered as a master potter in the Guild of St. Luke of Delft and it is probable that he was one of the few privileged outworkers who were allowed to work from home which was possible with special permission from the syndics of the guild. A Guild edict stated a maximum of six such painters were to be allowed.
Although van Frytom was not a master of the Guild, he was connected as the will of his widow states: ‘Elisabeth Verschouw, spouse of Frederick van Frytom, servant of the guild of St. Luke at Delft, bequeaths 100 florins to the orphanage’.
It is evident that van Frytom held his plaques in high esteem as his will of 14th February 1701 states: ‘Last will and testament of the worthy Fr. van Frytom, sitting in a chair while ill: leaves to Elisabeth Verschouw 2 fired stoneware pictures….’ (Vecht p. 31). He died in July 1702.
About fifty plaques are known, mostly still in Holland, our plaque is not one previously recorded. Many of the plaques were in notable noble collections, amongst the finest being the pair from the Prussian Royal Collection now in Huis Doorn, the home of Wilhelm II in exile. The only other octagonal plaque, perhaps the pendant to ours, depicts the village of Ouderkerk on the river Amstel and was acquired in 1865 by the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, (OCD 2-1865), illustrated, Vecht no. 72.
Known examples of van Frytom plaques in Public Collections outside of Holland and Belgium:
A pair of plaques in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. (Thornton Wilson bequest).
Two in the Musée de la Céramique, Rouen (one on loan the Musée de Sèvres)
One rectangular plaque in the Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
One circular plaque in The Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
One square plaque in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm.
Condition – No restoration. Very slight flaking of glaze on rim.
Literature – A.Vecht, Frederik van Frytom 1632-1702, Life and work of a Delft pottery decorator, Amsterdam 1968
Frederik van Frijtom en landschappen in blauw, exhibition catalogue Museum Boymans- van Beuningen 1968
J. Nieuwstraten, ‘Frederik van Frytom Faience-tekenaar en Landschapschilder’ in Bulletin Museum Boymans-van Beuningen XX no. 1 (1969),pp. 2-36.