5 Fascinating Facts About Delftware You Probably Didn't Know

If you've strolled through bustling markets in Amsterdam or Rotterdam, chances are you've laid eyes on vibrant blue pottery adorned with iconic Dutch motifs like windmills, cheese, and clogs. But here's the kicker: there's a world of difference between your run-of-the-mill tourist trinkets and the authentic, centuries-old Delftware steeped in Dutch heritage. We're talking about the real deal here – meticulously crafted, hand-painted pottery that has captivated collectors worldwide for generations. Let's delve into what makes antique Delftware so irresistible.

It's no exaggeration to say that antique Delft pottery commands hefty sums at auctions, often fetching thousands of euros. This isn't just about pottery; it's a testament to Dutch national pride, with a legacy spanning 400 years. From its origins in the 17th century, dubbed the Golden Age, through the following centuries up to the present day, Delftware mirrors the rich tapestry of Dutch history. Alongside esteemed artists like Rembrandt and Vermeer, antique Delftware stands tall as a cherished symbol of Dutch artistic prowess, revered by connoisseurs worldwide.

Collections of delftware

5 Lesser-Known Facts About Delftware 

Its origins trace back to an effort to replicate Chinese porcelain 

During the early 17th century, European Courts coveted Chinese blue and white porcelain. This pottery was made with 'kaolien,' a key ingredient unavailable in Europe. To meet market demand, potters in Delft, The Netherlands, created an alternative: tin-glazed pottery with milky opacity, resembling porcelain. They painted it in the blue and white oriental style. While Delft manufacturers mimicked Chinese porcelain shapes and patterns, they also innovated, producing new Dutch scenes and styles. This marked the origin of Delftware, an attempt to replicate Chinese porcelain that resulted in a unique and enduring art form.

More Than Just Blue 

Pottery experimentation quickly progressed, leading artisans to explore the use of a variety of colors in their designs. To achieve different shades and effects, potters began employing underglazing techniques. Creating red hues presented a particular challenge; craftsmen would leave an unpainted area during the initial firing, then apply the red glaze afterward, subjecting the piece to a lower temperature firing. Additionally, gilding was utilized on higher-quality pieces, necessitating an additional firing process.

Crafted for the Queen 

After her marriage to William of Orange, Queen Mary II of England visited The Hague in 1677, where she developed a deep appreciation for Dutch-made oriental porcelain. She was particularly fond of vessels and vases, commissioning numerous pieces for her Dutch palaces at Honselaarsdijk and Het Loo, as well as her English residence at Hampton Court. Among her collection, the most renowned were the 'flower vases,' also known as 'tulip vases,' which she displayed in impressive stacked towers. A passionate flower enthusiast, Queen Mary played a significant role in popularizing this style of vase among the Dutch and English nobility.

Crafted Beyond Delft 

Delftware, renowned for its exquisite tin-glazed earthenware, traces its name and legacy back to the vibrant city of Delft in the Netherlands. Yet, its influence extended far beyond its birthplace, captivating craftsmen and enthusiasts across Europe during the 18th century. Not limited to Delft alone, cities like London, Bristol, Hanover, Rouen, and various Dutch locales embraced this art form, each adding their own unique flair to its rich tapestry.

However, the zenith of Delftware's popularity waned around 1800, as economic hardships cast a shadow over its prosperity. Concurrently, the ascent of mass-produced English creamware posed a formidable challenge. This alternative boasted affordability, durability, and practicality, ultimately reshaping consumer preferences and market dynamics. The allure of Delftware persisted, but its once unassailable position faced formidable competition in an evolving landscape.

It is frequently imitated 

In the late 19th century, Dutch national pride sparked a renewed interest in early Delftware among scholars and collectors alike. This resurgence in popularity led to a wave of reproductions, with contemporary potters such as Boch Keramis in Belgium and Samson in Paris crafting replicas that closely mimicked the original Delftware style. These reproductions were even signed with old marks, making it challenging for the untrained eye to distinguish them from genuine pieces. Differentiating between these replicas and original works often requires the keen expertise of a knowledgeable expert.


Delftware's journey isn't just about beautiful pottery; it's a rich tapestry woven with innovation, artistic excellence, and even a touch of royal influence. From its origins as a substitute for Chinese porcelain to its enduring popularity as a collector's item, Delftware has left its mark on Dutch history and continues to capture the hearts of art enthusiasts worldwide. While its dominance waned over time, the resurgence of interest and the intricate details of its replicas are a testament to its lasting legacy.

Experience the Allure of Authentic Delftware

This appreciation for Delftware's rich history extends to those seeking genuine pieces. At Family Tree Originals, we offer a curated selection of plates and other items steeped in Dutch heritage. Discover the beauty and history of Delft plates firsthand with Family Tree Originals.