The Chitra Collection: British and European Pottery and Stoneware

This Dutch red stoneware teapot, circa 1710–20, was inspired by Chinese Yixing zisha pots that were imported into Europe during the 17th century. Zisha wares were very popular because of the porous nature of the stoneware, which absorbed the flavor of the tea, and their ability to retain heat. The Delft potters began to imitate the material. The best-known makers were Jacobus de Caluwe, who made this pot, and Ary de Milde. Their works are often marked, and de Caluwe pots can be identified by the decorative impressed lines alternating with small floral appliqués.

The translucency and fine decoration of Chinese porcelains had a profound effect on European potters and inspired a revolution in their approach to their work. While the Chinese Qing Dynasty porcelain manufacturers and the Japanese ceramicists had been making porcelain since the days of the Tang emperors (A.D. 618–907), ceramic manufacturers in Europe were producing majolica, faience, and delftware. These tin-glazed earthenwares originated in Mesopotamia in the 9th century. They migrated through Islamic North Africa to Spain and then in the 14th century to Italy, where they were known as majolica (after Majorca, the island through which wares were shipped from Spain to Italy). They then travelled to France, where they were known as faience, and on to Holland, where Italian potters had settled and which became a major center for the production of tin-glazed earthenwares. From the 17th century, as Chinese blue-and-white porcelains became more and more popular amongst wealthy Europeans, the Dutch potters in Delft copied the style and became famous for their blue-and-white delftwares. Some of the Dutch potters then emigrated to England and established a tin-glazed earthenware industry there, first on the east coast in Norfolk, where suitable clay was found, and then in London. Despite being made in England, the pieces produced were also known as delftware.

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