History of Delft Blue


Delft Blue is the world-famous earthenware that has been produced in the city of Delft since the 17th century. Between 1600 and 1800, this earthenware was popular among rich families who would show off their Delft Blue collections to one another. Although the Delftware potters preferred to call their earthenware “porcelain”, it was only a cheaper version of the real Chinese porcelain. Delft Blue was not made from the typical porcelain clay, but from clay that was coated with a tin glaze after it was fired. In spite of this, Delft Blue achieved unrivalled popularity, and at its peak, there were 33 factories in Delft. Of all of these factories, the only one remaining today is Royal Delft.

Rise of Delft Blue

Various trends in earthenware may be observed throughout the centuries. In 1550, Majolica earthenware from Spain and Italy was the trend. Many potters in Antwerp copied the popular earthenware until they were forced to flee the city from Spanish conquerors in 1585. The potters regrouped in Delft, where they concentrated on reproducing the latest trend, Chinese porcelain, starting in 1602. From that time onward, the city of Delft has been inextricably linked to Delft Blue earthenware.

Delft Blue today

Between 1600 and 1800, Delft was one of the most important earthenware producers in Europe. The Delft Blue earthenware was immensely popular, and was collected by rich families throughout the world. Unfortunately, for many potters, Delft Blue also went out of fashion, and one by one, they had to close their doors. The only one that has remained in operation since 1653 is de Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles, known as Royal Dutch, a company that continues to produce the Delft Blue pottery according to the traditional methods. Other locations in and around Delft where visitors can see the earthenware are De Delftse Pauw and in the many souvenir shops around the central market square (Grote Markt) in Delft.

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