The most lavishly furnished space in Tart Hall was the two-story Pranketing Room, a building separated from the main house. There exists a separate inventory of the room also referred to as the Pranketing House and Dutch Pranketing Room in the overall inventory of the house (Juliet Claxton, The Countess of Arundel’s Dutch Pranketing Room 2009). The Pranketing Room is referred to as “Dutch” only once, mentioned multiple times in the inventory, however, are a large number of “Dutch baskets”.
The elongated room on the northern edge of the property was located right next to a large dining room. On the walls of the room one of the most precious and earliest collections of porcelain in England were on display. Almost five hundred porcelain plates and figurines as well as porcelain vases filled over fifty shelves, together with numerous glasses, brass plates and jugs made of various materials.
A large brass lamp in the shape of a dragon hung from the ceiling. While numerous plates and over a hundred glasses were stored in two large wall cupboards in the large adjoining dining room, all items in the Pranketing Room were always visible and ready to hand on the wall shelves, a typical feature in workshop and kitchen interiors of the time, especially in, but not limited to the Netherlands.
The display of porcelain on the walls was of course typical of Dutch interiors. The porcelain collection might therefore have been decisive for the designation Dutch Pranketing Room (Cordula Bischoff, Women Collectors and the Rise of the Porcelain Cabinet 2014). The hybrid architecture of Tart Hall, a combination of Italian and Dutch elements, has also been discussed as a reason.
The numerous mentions of Dutch baskets stand out in the inventory. In Lady Arundel’s household, wicker baskets were explicitly associated with the Netherlands. These baskets were used to transport various goods, from precious china and spices to flour, sugar, and salt.
The large number of baskets and their eponymous potential suggest that Lady Arundel herself, even if she was known at court as the “Italian lady”, was less proud of her Italian sophistication than of the quality of produce she imported from the Netherlands.
The wicker basket has been depicted again and again in Dutch paintings and prints. It is easily recognizable enough to become a trade mark for goods imported via Amsterdam and Antwerp. Basket makers were highly regarded. Could the important Royal Dutch Basket Factory of Ferdinand van Vliet go back to the family of the philologist Jan van Vliet, one of the best friends of Lady Arundel’s tutor Franciscus Junius? What is certain is that the famous Dutch microscopist Antoni Leeuwenhoek came from a family of basket makers.
Little is known about the material culture of the dutch basket. The ubiquitous basket has not made its way into museum collections, just like modern packaging material rarely is displayed. What remains, however, are the numerous images of similar wicker baskets, an echo of a beginning packaging culture shaped by international trade.