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Is the Dutch National Treasure Simply Copied From China?

Is Delft pottery a mere imitation of Chinese porcelain? (Image:  Vision Times China)
Is Delft pottery a mere imitation of Chinese porcelain? (Image: Vision Times China)

When you think of Holland, images of windmills, tulips, and wooden clogs pop in your head, right? Then, of course, there’s Delftware, with its signature blue and white colors, similar to the Chinese porcelain that was exported to Europe in the 1600s. Delftware or Delft pottery, also known as Delft Blue, is blue and white pottery made in and around Delft in the Netherlands.

Delft, a small Dutch town near the captial, The Hague, is also home to the great Dutch painter Johannes Veermeer. It’s a quiet town with a beautiful artistic flair to it. Set amidst medieval renaissance architecture and dug out canals, it is a very popular tourist attraction. Most gift shops in Delft sell Delftware; however, Royal Delft Blue pottery is recognized as the gold standard against which all other Delftware is judged.

Many people regard Royal Delft porcelain as a Dutch national treasure. (Image: Vision Times China)

People in the Netherlands regard Royal Delft Blue items as a national treasure. (Image: Vision Times China)

In medieval Europe, only people of great wealth were able to afford Chinese porcelain. It was a much sought-after luxury among European royalty. Seeing Europe’s insatiable demand for it, Johannes Veermeer attempted to recreate the blue and white porcelain that was being imported from China in the 16th and 17th centuries.

It’s interesting to note that the famous Delft Blue motif had its origins in China. In other words, from the very beginning, Delftware was none other than an imitation of authentic Chinese porcelain.

Genuine hand-painted delftware is pricey. (Image: Vision Times China)

Genuine hand-painted delftware is pricey. (Image: Vision Times China)

The European pottery created in the 18th century was indeed a legitimate invention in its own right. However, it clearly imitated the techniques, shapes, and designs (which included plants, flowers, birds, and other traditional Chinese motifs) of Chinese porcelain, especially the striking blue and white colors found in the Delft pottery from Holland.

Mr. Veermeer gained considerable favor with Dutch and European royalty after he had successfully created Delft pottery. He was later commissioned to create beautiful wine-bottle holders and one-of-a-kind accessories, which served as diplomatic gifts of the Dutch Imperial Family.

Delft pottery is now regarded as a national treasure in the Netherlands and is widely used by the Dutch people.

Translated by Cecilia

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