Opening of Dutch Days in Hong Kong 2018


AXA Art presents:
Heritage and Legacy Lecture Series
Delftware & Trade with China


by Robert Aronson & AXA Art

Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Suite 3001, 30/F Central Plaza 18 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong

By invitation only. RSVP required.


10 April 2018

Reception: 6:30pm

Lecture: 7:00pm 

About the talk

The arrival of Chinese porcelain on the Dutch market around 1600 resulted in a significant alteration of the ceramics industry in the Low Countries. The shift in the production process and the decoration types had a great influence on the position of the earthenware industry in the Dutch economy, especially after the Chinese export stop around 1650. The great demand and the little supply meant the creation of a large market for Delftware – marketed as “Delft porcelain” – and many jobs were created in the city of Delft. When the importation of Chinese porcelain regained traction towards the end of the 17th century the entrepreneurs in Delft had to reinvent themselves and focussed on the production of ceramics with Western shapes and decorations and they adapted to the ruling taste and fashion with regard to interiors and dining.


In the lecture, Robert D. Aronson explains how the city of Delft became the epicentre of and the role model in the production of European ceramics in the 17th century for other European factories, as well as the influence it had in turn on the production of Chinese porcelain from around 1690.

About the Speaker

Robert D. Aronson

Aronson Antiquairs


Founded in 1881, Robert D. Aronson is the fifth generation owner of Aronson Antiquairs in Amsterdam that specialises in 17th and 18th century Delftware. They publish on the subject on a regular basis and have partnerships either as a sponsor or through knowledge-sharing with museums worldwide. Robert also lectures internationally on the subject. Robert is the Chairman of the Royal Dutch Antiques Dealers Association and specialist on the Dutch version of the Antiques Roadshow.

About the Gallery

Aronson Antiques, a traditional family business, was founded in 1881 by Leon Aronson (1830- 1910), also son of an antiques dealer, in the eastern Dutch city of Arnhem. Leon’s son David (1878-1942) moved to the Dutch capital Amsterdam around 1900. During World War II, the gallery was closed and the stock was sold by a ‘Verwalter,’ an administrator appointed by the German occupier. Nico and Ab (1916-1990), both sons of David, were the only survivers after WWII and restarted the business with nothing but experience and determination.


In the 1981 centennial publication, Ab recalled: “The first thing I bought [after the war] was a large safe. I bought it for pennies at an auction. The thing couldn’t be carried or lifted, but I exchanged it for six antique chairs.” He also revealed his business philosophy: “Profit is nice, but the love for antiques is better. One should be able to separate between trading and the love for antiques. … Where is the enjoyement, if all you can think of is interest and percentages ?”


In 1967, after a year of training with a colleague in London, Dave (1946-2007), Ab and wife Noen’s only child, joined his parents in the business. Prior to Ab’s death in 1990, Robert, son of Dave, decided also to continue in the footsteps of so many of his forebears, and after working at the head office of Sotheby’s in London for two years, he joined his father in 1992. Dave and Robert internationalised the firm rapidly, with the first overseas art fair in London in 1992 and starting to participate in The Winter Antiques Show in New York in 1994. Dave was chairman of the Executive Committee of The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in Maastricht from 1999 through his passing in 2007. Although having a background as an general antiques dealer, nowadays Aronson specialises in, and is world renowned for 17th and 18th century Dutch Delftware. An annual publication on Delftware, providing art historical context, and the e-commerce platform set the standard for a modern international dealership.


The Aronsons came to Amsterdam around 1900 and opened a shop on the Spiegelgracht, the elongation of the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat. The next generation moved to Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 64, worked from there until World War II and from 1945 the Aronsons occupied Kerkstraat 146, nowadays called Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 45-a&b. In 1969 Ab and Dave moved to the present location at Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 39, which they extensively restored in 1984. The building was by chance also built in 1881, the founding date of the company. Occupying the spaces of the previous two buildings, the new owner in 1881 acquired the plots to build a ‘café.’ It is unknown though if the café was ever realised. Several years after the building was erected, it was home to a beds store. By the turn of the century the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, named after the extremely influential Hendrik Laurensz. Spiegel (1549-1612), became the antiques district of Amsterdam, mainly due to its proximity to the newly built Rijksmuseum (1885). During the summer of 2015 the Aronsons moved out of Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 39 and relocated about 30 meters (or 30 yards) towards to the Rijksmuseum back to the previous building on the corner of Kerkstraat and Nieuwe Spiegelstraat.