Diving into Delftware: A Dutch Tradition

B1981.25.436

Alexander Marshal, Flowers in a Delft Jar, 1663 
Yale Centre for British Art

We recently looked at a type of pottery coming out of modern day Turkey, known as Iznik ware.  Today we are taking a closer look at Delftware, a type of pottery dating back almost 400 years from the Netherlands.

Delft Vases

A Pair of Dutch Polychrome Vases with Covers 
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Delftware emerged in the Netherland in an area known as Delft as potters attempted to imitate the fashionable Chinese blue and white porcelain that was imported from the Far East by the Dutch East India Trading Company, established in 1602.

A Large Blue and White Dutch Delft Vase Now Mounted as a Lamp Mackinnon Fine Furniture 

A Large Blue and White Dutch Delft Vase Now Mounted as a Lamp 
Mackinnon Fine Furniture

The Delft potters sought to mimic the bright whites and blues of the Asian ceramics, but they lacked the ingredient ‘kaolien,’ which allowed the Asian ceramicists to achieve such crisp and defined colours.

A Pair of 19th Century Dutch Delft Polychrome Vases Now Mounted as Lamps Mackinnon Fine Furniture

A Pair of 19th Century Dutch Delft Polychrome Vases Now Mounted as Lamps 
Mackinnon Fine Furniture

In addition to copying Chinese patterns and designs, Delft potters also developed their own patterns and styles of decoration.  They branched out beyond the traditional blue and white colourways to introduce more elaborate designs, including yellows, greens, and reds.

A Blue and White Dutch Delft Vase Now Mounted as a Lamp Mackinnon Fine Furniture

A Blue and White Dutch Delft Vase Now Mounted as a Lamp 
Mackinnon Fine Furniture

The popularity of Delftware extended beyond the home market in the early days–Queen Mary II of England arrived in the Hague in 1677 after marrying William of Orange (the future William III), and she ordered a number of Delft ceramics for her Dutch palaces as well as Hampton Court in England.

Tulip Vase

A Flower Vase from the period of Adrianus Koecks, circa 1695-1705 Metropolitan Museum of Art

Queen Mary was particularly fond of a certain type of flower vase that is often known as a tulip vase: these stacked vases are impressive towers with tiers of openings for various blooms.

The popularity of Delftware in England has been consistent throughout the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.  We are delighted to continue this tradition by offering several pieces of Delftware from our collection, which we have shared above.

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