Dutch Gouda pottery collection a buzz for the auction world

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 14th February, 2023

Perhaps it was the strong links to his homeland that inspired Dutchman Karl Hulsberggen to amass a significant collection of Gouda pottery after he migrated in 1951 to Melbourne.

Or it could have been his passion for antique furniture, gold, diamonds jewellery, stamps and general collectables that led in the early 1970s to him establishing a second-hand dealership – first in Oakleigh, then later Burwood and East Kew before he finally decided in his late 60s that it was time to call it a day.

Karl died in 2008, aged 84. However, despite his enormously successful dealerships, he never sold any of the Gouda pottery he and his wife Hilda, now 82, collected over more than 50 years – ever since he brought several pieces back to Australia after a trip home to the Netherlands in 1956.

There are more than 250 pieces in the collection which, apart from a few favourites, Philips Auctions will offer for sale at its forthcoming timed online fine and decorative arts auction finishing from 10am on Monday February 20 at 47 Glenferrie Road, Malvern.

Most of the collection was purchased second hand in Australia, largely from markets and other antique dealers.

“Some of the items were damaged when we acquired them but we had a trusted restorer who was able to repair them,” Hilda said.

Hilda confesses the time has now come to downsize and move to live with her daughter Wendy and family in New South Wales. Hence, the decision to sell most of the collection via Philips Auctions director Tony Philips, with whom they have been friends for many decades.

The colourful Gouda collection is certainly eye catching – none more so than lot 8, an art pottery vase.

Other highlights of the collection include five pottery ashtrays (lot 9), a group of 10 clogs (lot 12), a jardinière (lot 26) and an art nouveau candlestick and candle lantern (lot 38).

The auction contains a comprehensive range of items including clocks, silver, art, porcelain, glass and furniture.

Of particular note is a French spelter stag and marble clock signed by Louis-Albert Carvin, a renowned 19th century sculptor famous for his animal sculptures of dogs, wild felines, horses, birds and deer.

A member of the Society of French Artists with his work frequently exhibited at the Salon des Artists in Paris, Carvin was awarded the French Medal of Honour in 1894.

A late 18th century bracket clock by Pierre Jaquet-Droz (lot 128) also is worth examination. Born in 1721 on a small farm in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Jaquet-Droz became interested in clockmaking and precision mechanics at an early age and from 17 to 26 devoted himself entirely to the craft, producing a series of longcase timepieces whose increasingly sophisticated movements outclassed anything produced to that date.

By the time he married Marianne Sandoz in 1750, he was firmly established in his profession. They had two children (a girl and boy) over the next two years, but then his wife died shortly after followed in 1755 by his daughter.

Jaquet-Droz never remarried, instead devoting his entire efforts to clockmaking with considerable international success after Spain’s King Ferdinand VI saw his timepieces, was dumfounded at their sophistication and promptly purchased the six the clockmaker had brought with him to Madrid for a large sum of money.

With his son Henri-Louis’s help, this enabled Jaquet-Droz to build a strong international reputation by concentrating on making increasingly sophisticated clocks and watches well ahead of their time – culminating with three humanoid automata The Writer, The Draughtsman and The Musician he presented in 1774 in his home town and leading to years of continued overseas success.

A fine bronze sculpture of Icarus (lot 133) by French sculptor Georges Colin (1876-1917) is indicative of several in the auction.  

Other attractions include a fine Norwegian hammered silver and ivory jewellery box (lot 232) and a French Louis XV style tulipwood partners desk (lot 406).

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