Incised through a cream-coloured slip to the red body with further decoration in an ochre slip and green glaze with couples representing the ‘Ages of Man’ from birth to death at 100, the outer border with a meander of tulips divided by birds, the cavetto with an angel above a tree in bloom and another leafless. All above the inscription in old Dutch:
“wie kaen dijt tonssel het poope de Maegdedom ende bruijt dalt men passeren van 5 trape en het speel is uijt maen en vrouw te samen na onder treden de zijl bij goede in ‘t graef te leeden gerrit bonnen heeft deze schottel gemaekt in ‘t jaer 1728’
“Who recognises this scene – after childhood, maid and bride, one goes down in five steps and the game is over and man and wife go down together to be put in the grave forever, gerrit bonnen made this dish in the year 1728”
The design is loosely based on a number of popular engravings depicting the ‘Ages of Man’ such as this anonymous engraving in the British Museum (BM 1871,1209.972).
Numerous small towns and villages in the Niederrhein , North West Germany close to the border with The Netherlands, are noted for their slipwares and in particular a series of large display chargers dating from the late 17th and into the 19th centuries.
Gerrit Bonnen’s (sometimes spelt Boonen or Bonen) signature is found on seven other large dishes documented and illustrated by M. Scholten-Neess and W. Jüttner in Niederrheinische Bauerntöpferei 17-19. Jahrhundert, (nos. 652 to 658) ranging in date from 1714 to 1738, some of them include the name of the small village of Sevelen just 14 kilometres from the Dutch border.
One example in the Rijksmuseum (Inv. Nr. 11538) also dated 1728 has a nearly identical border and the centre decorated with the ‘Flight into Egypt’ (Scholten-Neess and Jüttner no. 653, fig. 154).
Broken across and restored
Scholten-Neess and W. Jüttner, Niederrheinische Bauerntöpferei 17-19. Jahrhundert, Düsseldorf 1971, p. 380-81, nos. 652 to 658 and plates 153 to 158