Recently, the Jan Menze van Diepen Foundation was able to purchase a beautiful dish from the famous Pronk dinner service of the Fraeylemaborg. This plate was offered at an auction in Bruges by a Frisian collector. Because of this acquisition, for the first time a part of the precious service can be shown in the Fraeylemaborg.
Until 1971 there was a unique Pronk service in the Fraeylemaborg, but in that year it was sold at Mak van Waay in Amsterdam. This extensive dinner service came from China, but was decorated with a representation by the Dutch artist Cornelis Pronk (1691-1759).
Pronk was commissioned by the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie to make a design that was suitable for various types of tableware. He made a number of drawings in which he combined all kinds of oriental elements. Porcelain with these representations is also called “Pronk porcelain”. A striking element on one of his most beautiful drawings are elegant ladies holding a parasol. Porcelain with “The Parasol Ladies” has become a household name.
The drawings of Cornelis Pronk were sent via Batavia to China in 1735 and applied there on porcelain. This was a great success, but the cost of manufacture was so high that too little was earned. Production therefore stopped after only a few years. Pronk porcelain has therefore become rare and this is certainly true for complete tableware. The design drawing for the Parasol ladies is now in the Rijksmuseum collection.
The recently purchased dish is also exceptional because the central representation of the Paraol ladies is placed in a rectangular field, while on almost all known Pronk signs it is a round field.
The Pronk crockery used to be placed on the table at the Fraeylemaborg in its heyday. For example at a wedding party or the reception of a high guest. Of course it was of great importance that this precious dinnerware was handled with care. According to tradition the servants and the cooks all received 25 guilders if nothing broke during such a dinner!