Delftware is a type of tin-glazed earthenware, known as maiolica in Italy and faience in France. After an initial firing, the items are coated with an opaque white enamel, on which designs are painted, followed by a further firing.
It was first developed in the 9th century in Iraq and spread to Spain and Italy in the Middle Ages. In the 16th century Italian potters introduced the technique to France and also to Antwerp in Belgium. From there it made its way to Holland, England and north Germany. In England it was known as galleyware, a term used until well into the 18th century, when it became known as delftware, reflecting the fact that by then the Dutch town of Delft had become the most important centre of production in Europe.
Manufacture of tin-glazed earthenware in England began with the arrival in 1567 of two Flemish potters, who set up potteries in Norwich and London. Another important factory was set up in Southwark c1618 by a Dutchman but it was not until after the Restoration in 1660 that the number of potteries increased. more...London potters moved to Brislington in Avon and then to Bristol and in the 18the century delftware potteries spread to Liverpool, Glasgow, Dublin and Belfast – all ports with access to raw materials.
The influence of Chinese porcelain can be plainly seen in 18th century English delftware, and was inspired by the Chinese porcelain imported by the Dutch East India Company from the early 17th century. Other forms of decoration include European landscapes, biblical subjects, inscribed and commemorative pieces. Although nearly all surviving delftware is decorated, most utilitarian wares were plain white.
Among sought-after items are blue-dash chargers, produced at London and Bristol from c1650 to 1740. Decorated with distinctive blue dashes around the rim, these large dishes depicted contemporary heroes, particularly Royalty, and biblical subjects. A feature peculiar to English delft was the introduction of bianco-sopra-bianco, which consisted of a border pattern of flowers, pine cones and scrollwork being painted in white enamel on a slightly bluish-tinged glaze. Another distinctive type of decoration is the so called Fazackerley palette ; primarily associated with Liverpool from c1750 the colours include sage-green, manganese, pale blue, yellow and red.
The fashion for delftware in the British Isles lasted until the 1770s when it was superseded by creamware which was cheap to make, far more durable and could be stamped, moulded and pierced, lending itself to mass-production. By the end of the 18th century the manufacture of delftware in Britain had virtually ceased.
In order to differentiate the Dutch and English products, it is best to precede the term ‘Delft’ or ‘Delftware’ by Dutch or English. However, it has become customary for dealers and auction houses to use ‘Delft’ for the Dutch wares and ‘delft’ or ‘delftware’ for the English.
These items are not for sale and the descriptions, images and prices are for reference purposes only.
Pair of 18th century Dutch Delft jars and covers, of ribbed baluster form, the covers set with lion finials, above a body decorated with birds, insects and flowers, marked J.V.D.H, possibly for Jan van der Houk, a/f, height 75 cm, (2)
A rare English running fox decorated delft plate, marked Prh and dated 1736, Lambeth or Bristol origin, 22 cm diameter, Note: Animals do not appear to have formed an important part of the delftware decorators' repertoire. When they do appear, they are
A pair of Dutch Delft underglaze blue chinoiserie shallow bowls decorated with the 'peacock' or 'fan' pattern, the design of flowers and fruit arranged to look like a peacock's tail, the border with alternating panels and with yellow ri
A c.1900 floral transfer decorative china hand basin in highly decorative cast iron stand and back board, the tall back of scrolling form with arched topped mirror above a panel with a classical child figure beside twin union jack flags, three blue and whi
A blue Delft plate, 1961, a limited edition plate 875/1000, 'Naar een schildery' by Jhb Koekoek 1840-1912, a traditional fishing by the shore scene with a sailing vessel and horse drawn cart, in underglaze blue with a shell form border; backstamps undersid
A signed Delft scenic earthenware charger, 1882 Holland a naturalistic rural village canal scene with a figure in a boat; signed to the charger and with impressed and underglaze blue marks underside, decorator's initials and various labels. Diameter 36 cm
A very unusual hardwood low table, 18th and 20th century, the top with a pierced apron inset in the centre with four early Qing Dynasty blue and white tiles surrounded by a border of Delft tiles standing on a four bamboo-form legs with an elaborate cross-s
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