More highly prized than gold, blue and white Chinese porcelain arrived in Europe in the 14th century. But where did the Chinese potters get their blue pigment?
The Chinese exported their porcelain to the Middle East where they discovered a cobalt blue pigment from Iran. They began to import it and the Chinese decorated their white porcelain with cobalt blue cranes, lotus flowers and dragons. Invented by the Chinese, in the 7th century, porcelain is a white ceramic that is thin and strong with a translucent quality.
In the 17th century, the Chinese exported large amounts of blue and white porcelain to the Netherlands. Simple color use was in vogue at the time. A war broke out in China that halted production for 30 years. This gave the Dutch potters from the city of Delft an opportunity to create their own version of the blue and white pottery called “Delftware”. They decorated it with landscapes, birds, flowers, fish as well as copying Chinese designs.
• Chinese Art by Patricia Bjaaland Welch. Tuttle Publishing, 2008.
• Delffse Porceleyne, Dutch delftware 1620-1850 by Jan Daniël van Dam. Waanders Publishers, 2004.
• The Ceramics of China 5000 B.C. to 1912 A.D. by Gloria and Robert Mascarelli. Schiffer Publishing. 2003
• Treasures of China by John Chinnery. Duncan Baird Publishers, 2008.