The Legacy Of Delfts Blauw

Have you ever stumbled upon those charming bits of Dutch pottery, adorned with their signature white and blue hues, while perusing through tourist spots or local markets? But have you ever wondered about the roots of this timeless pottery tradition?

Blue Delft Plates

What is Delft Blue?

Delve into the vibrant history of Delft Blue pottery, hailing from the picturesque Dutch city of Delft, where its legacy dates back to the illustrious 17th century and continues to thrive today. Originating from humble clay, artisans embarked on a journey of innovation, infusing traditional Delftware with a distinctive charm. As the artistry evolved, fleeing potters from Antwerp brought refinement to Delft, transforming its essence. With a shift to a white glaze, Delft Blue emerged as more than just pottery—it became a symbol of exquisite craftsmanship, adorning not only plates and ornaments but also enriching the very essence of Dutch culture through its iconic blue hues.

Inspiration for Delft Blue

In the bustling era of the 17th century Dutch Golden Age, a captivating trend emerged: Delft Blue pottery. Inspired by the allure of Chinese porcelain, this vibrant style flourished between the 1600s and 1800s AD. Fueled by the Dutch East India Company's voyages, which brought back coveted treasures from the East, including porcelain and tea, the Dutch embraced the exotic allure of Eastern aesthetics.

Tea, a newfound luxury, presented a challenge—the absence of suitable vessels for consumption. Ingeniously, Delft potters crafted teapots and cups, mirroring Chinese designs. These artisans, blending imitation with innovation, pioneered the iconic "Chinese" style, rendering it accessible to a broader swath of society. From humble clay and tin glaze emerged Delft Blue, a symbol of Dutch ingenuity and artistic expression. As the craze surged, Delftware evolved, adorned with quintessential Dutch motifs—windmills, tulips, and pastoral scenes—ushering in an era where 33 Delft factories thrived, each weaving a unique narrative into the fabric of history.

the 18th century

As the 18th century drew to a close, Delftware faced a decline, with many factories shuttering their operations. Amidst this downturn, only one stalwart endured: Royal Delft (Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles), steadfastly carrying on the tradition of crafting exquisite Delft Blue since 1653.

In 1876, a pivotal moment emerged when Joost Thooft assumed control of the factory, ushering in advancements that elevated the quality of Delftware production. His keen eye for improvement saw the integration of a refined production process, yielding pieces of unparalleled craftsmanship. An enduring hallmark of his legacy, the initials "JT" were delicately inscribed onto every creation, serving as a timeless seal of authenticity amidst a sea of imitations.

Over the centuries, Royal Delft has remained a beacon of craftsmanship, steadfastly preserving the artistry of Delft Blue. Amidst the ebb and flow of trends, their dedication to excellence has stood unwavering, ensuring each piece exudes a distinct allure that captivates connoisseurs worldwide.

Today, as we marvel at the timeless beauty of Delft Blue, we owe a debt of gratitude to pioneers like Joost Thooft and institutions like Royal Delft. Their commitment to innovation and tradition has not only safeguarded a cherished heritage but also ensured that the legacy of Delftware continues to enchant generations to come.



Joost's innovative production method, a timeless gem still embraced today, unfolds in a meticulous sequence:

Firstly, a harmonious blend of approximately ten raw materials, such as kaolin, chalk, feldspar, and quartz, dances with water until they merge into a fluid concoction. This liquid symphony finds its home within plaster molds, each comprising multiple pieces, where the plaster acts as a silent conductor, drawing moisture from the clay and leaving behind a dry essence within the mold's embrace. As the clay matures to the right consistency, surplus clay gracefully exits the stage. With patience as its ally, the clay embraces the open air until it reaches a state of solidity fit for liberation from its plaster cocoon. Following a delicate dance of further drying and meticulous refinement to iron out any imperfections, each piece dons a cloak of engobe, a liquid clay, before embarking on its maiden voyage through the kiln's fiery embrace.

In the skilled hands of Delftware painters, who have honed their craft over eight years or more, each piece is anointed with a lustrous black paint, rich with cobalt oxide, brushed into life with tools crafted from squirrel or marten hair. The azure hues, brought to life through a delicate balance of water in the paint, find their true expression in a chemical alchemy during the second firing. A veil of white glaze, destined to melt into a translucent sheen akin to glass, enshrouds the piece, sealing its destiny. Through the heat of the second firing, a symphony of chemical reactions among clay, engobe, paint, and glaze unfolds, culminating in the iconic Delft Blue hue.

In the final act of this grand production, each piece undergoes a meticulous quality inspection, ensuring that only the finest specimens grace the world stage.