|Antiques Digest||Browse Auctions||Appraisal||Antiques And Arts News||Home|
History Of Pottery And Porcelain:
Pottery And Porcelain Defined
History Of Pottery
Forms Employed By The Italians
Holland - Delft
Introduction To Porcelain
Oriental Porcelain China
Pottery And Porcelain
Clocks And Watches
( Originally Published Late 1800's )
Famous among the potters of the world are those of the Low Countries: their industry, thrift and wonderful productiveness won for Delft, in England, the cognomen of "Parent of Pottery."
Here again we look in vain for the graceful attributes bestowed upon it by the Latin nations. Some evidences of an appreciation of its worth as an artistic medium are apparent, but as M. Taine asserts, all the arts of the Lowlands were affected by the dead, unbroken level of her territory; there were no hills, no dells, no picturesque spots where the public mind might be drawn from the endless flatness, the dykes and the canals, which so disgusted Voltaire, and which prove so monotonous to every tourist. The Dutch workmen saw little else in pottery but an eminent fitness to all the grosser purposes of trade and household economy.
In Holland six great centres, beside Delft, were at one time engaged in the manufacture of pottery-Haarlem, Hoorn, Overtoom, Utrecht, Beilen, and Amsterdam; all of these producing and exporting enormous quantities. So great was the quantity sent to England that Delft became a name commonly applied to every piece of opaque fictile ware the cheapness of the ware having recommended it to common use in the humblest household.
"Ces faiences sont inferieures, au point de vue artistique, a celles de Nurnberg de la meme epoque, quant au modelage. Un grand defaut, qui se rencontre aussi dans les potiches de Delft, cest que le meme sujet se trouve reproduit sur les deux pendants, repetition qui leur ote une partie de leur valeur." Repetition and want of variety characterizes the Dutch as well as the German Pottery.
Aside from any artistic value, the wares of Holland have a historic record which leads us back to remoteness. According to Haydn these people were engaged upon pottery work so far back as the year 1310. The most intelligible statements regarding its age are derived from notices of its importation into countries foreign; thus the records of Hull, England, contain statements regarding imposts levied upon it so far back as the time of Henry IV., tiles, earthen vessels and images, constituting the bulk of these invoices.
Evelyn, in his diary, mentions a chime of bells which he went to a friend's house to hear, made at Delft, of that thin and delicate sonorous ware in imitation of the Orien tal porcelain, which was then the perfect model for emulation of the Delft workmen.
Rouen and Delft were rival competitors in fictile work, and it was at this time that Delft called to her aid such artists as Berqheur, William Vandevelde, Jan Strur, and Van de Meer. Almost any one familiar with the Flemish school would recognize the original decoration of the Dutch pieces. Their extensive commerce with the Oriental countries brought to their knowledge the great excel lence of the Chinese and Japanese porcelain. Although utterly unable to equal its quality and finish, they succeeded admirably in copying the decoration; and so nicely is this done that the two can scarcely be distinguished except upon intimate acquaintance. It is the blue ware, principally, which found its way to foreign countries; and even in our own land, today, we find it among the treasured relics of our ancestors. " This pseudo-Oriental ware," remarks Mr. Marryatt, "was covered with a glaze or enamel of great beauty, of a bluish tinge, presenting a smooth surface, showing paintings, chiefly in blue, in imitation of the Oriental." Most of the decoration of the artists previously alluded to was ploychrome, the blue decoration being introduced because they could favorably compete with the Oriental products, and find a market for their wares far below the price of those which were imported. Among the varieties of articles produced in Holland, tile-work seems to have been most extensively patronized, and these were decorated mostly in monochrome of blue or brown, with scriptural subjects; indeed, an old Dutch mantel-piece was a sort of illustrated family bible; its quaint and curious pictures might both attract the eye and lead the mind.
Vases seem to have excited less admiration ; at least they are fewer in number, although not entirely wanting in beauty.
The ware made at Delft during the sixteenth century was marked with an R, crossed by a sword; after that period no mark was affixed.
The number of specimens of Delft ware extant is very great-especially the plates, are frequently met with, and easily procurable. Many of these bear initials and monograms with dates, and were probably made for private use, as facility and cheapness was a character which is infrequently met among the pottery manufactories of those early days.