Delftware pottery originated in Antwerp in around 1500 AD. An Italian man called Guido da Savino created it, and eventually, it became associated with the city of Delft. The horrific religious wars that gripped the area in the 1500s drove many refugees to flee north into the Dutch Netherlands, bringing Delftware with them. It took the place of the declining brewing industry as the leading trade in the city of Delft. As the Dutch expanded their trading network and empire over the course of the 1600s, there was an influx of pottery from nations such as Japan and China.
The Dutch started to imitate these countries’ techniques and art styles. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Dutch created over 800 million delftware tiles, and it remains a significant product of the Netherlands to this day, largely manufactured in the city of Friesland.
Delftware’s primary use in medicine is as a container for drugs and other healing substances. The tile depicted in this image is based on a real piece of delftware currently residing in Billingsgate, London. It’s unknown if it was manufactured in England or The Netherlands, and it was likely once part of a fireplace. The tile depicts a romantic scene where a young man hands a flower to the girl he loves.
Artist: Alicia Walsh
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