Delftware Porcelain Portrait of Gustav II Adolf on Display at Hillstrom Museum of Art

Posted on June 16th, 2016 by

Porcelain Portrait of King Gustavus Adolphus, Artist Jacobus Bernardus Johannes van der Horst (1871-1952)

Porcelain Portrait of King Gustavus Adolphus, Artist Jacobus Bernardus Johannes van der Horst (1871-1952)

Through the first week of July, the Hillstrom Museum of Art has on view through its window a large Delftware porcelain portrait plaque depicting Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus (1594-1632), namesake of Gustavus Adolphus College.

One of several portraits on campus of the King, this one was made in the famous Delft Porcelain factory (De Porcelyne Fles) in Delft in the Netherlands.  It is an example of Delftware, porcelain that is tin glazed in blue and white.  It was painted by Jacobus Bernardus Johannes van der Horst (1871-1952), who worked at the porcelain firm from 1883 to 1918.  The portrait roundel is nearly 30 inches in diameter.

Van der Horst hand painted the image of Gustavus Adolphus, basing it on a portrait of the King by his famed contemporary, Flemish artist Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641).  The Museum also has engravings after the van Dyck work and they are very close in detail to this porcelain portrait.  Markings on the back of the plaque indicate that van der Horst made it in 1911, and the beautiful, original wooden frame is in the arts and crafts style popular in that era.  The artist is known to have made other porcelain paintings based on works by other old master artists.

This work was donated by Dr. Kirby von Kessler and his wife Elizabeth of Glyndon, Maryland.  Dr. von Kessler’s father had inherited the portrait in 1947 from a cousin whose mother was the original owner.  The donor does not know what led his relative to acquire such an imposing portrait of the Swedish King.  Von Kessler visited the Delftware studio in 1974, and he later had the work appraised by a Dutch expert who provided information about van der Horst.

The Hillstrom Museum of Art is grateful to the von Kesslers for this generous donation, and urges others who might wish to donate artworks that might be appropriate for the Museum’s collection to be in contact.

The Museum, which is closed summers and other times when classes are not in session, will reopen on September 12, 2016 with two concurrent exhibitions (that will remain on view through November 6, 2016): Animal and Sporting Paintings in the Penkhus Collection; and FOCUS IN/ON: Reginald Marsh’s Manhattan Towers.

Addition information about the Hillstrom Museum of Art at Gustavus Adolphus College is available at


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