The porcelain of Tournai constituted one of the major interests of the collector Raoul Warocqué. In 1893, at the age of 23, he acquired 204 pieces of the table service by Villermont. He increased his collection with purchases of sets such as for example, in 1898, one made up of 66 pieces with purple monotone decorations painted by a certain Stinglhamber. Quickly rare pieces appeared as well, such as the models with multi-coloured bird decorations. In 1899, Warocqué acquired the famous peacock plate. After 1900, his collection was representative to the point that he refined it by selling his duplicates. In 1911, with the great “Exposition des anciennes industries d’art tournaisiennes” (Exhibition of the former Tournai industries of art), accompanied by a catalogue written by Soil de Moriamé, Tournai porcelain was at the pinnacle of the art industries of Hainaut. Raoul Warocqué’s collection was known then as the most beautiful of its kind.
Augmented by different curators since the museum opened to the public in 1922, today the collection includes nearly 2000 pieces. In addition to its numerical size, it is made up of the most beautiful specimens that came out of the kilns of the manufactory from its foundation by F-J Péterinck in the middle of the 18th century until its definitive closing in 1890.
Within a route based on the chromatic research that made up the quality and richness of the polychromatic porcelains of the 18th century, various themes are tackled: the history of the decorations, the history of porcelain manufacturing, recalling the techniques used, the importance of the polychromatic table services with birds called “de Buffon” and the monochromatic decorations in purple, blue and white decorations, and stereotypes coming from the domestic use of porcelain.
Along with the desire to enrich this collection of Tournai porcelains and to deepen knowledge about it, little by little the museum is also building up a collection of contemporary ceramics whose objective is to illustrate the major stages of Belgian ceramics from the end of the 19th century to the present. At the heart of the Tournai porcelains, a room is reserved for exhibitions and temporary presentations.