For The Love of Blue and White
by Liza Laserow
Still-life a Nautilus Cup 1662. Oil on canvas by Kalf, Willem.
During the 17th Century and early 18th Century a large amount of blue and white porcelain was imported to England and Holland from China via the trade with the East India Companies and sold to manor houses and castles in Sweden. It all actually started in the 1200’s when arabic merchants shipped Chinese porcelain to Venice, Italy. The so significant white porcelain with blue painted details was developed and fully accomplished in China during the Ming Dynasty 1368-1644 and peaked between 16th and 17th Century.
The oriental porcelain was admired by the entire Europe who for a long time was wondering how the “white gold” was produced since no one understood what it was made from. Even scientists tried to understand what the components were but without success. Holland started making a cheaper and fragile version made of clay – called Fajance. The clay was shaped then burnt in an oven with 1000 degrees C. To protect it from water damages it was covered with a white glaze then decorated with blue motifs copied from the Chinese. To seals the surface and make it easier to clean it was burnt again. The city Delft in Holland soon became famous for its beautifully painted fajance pottery. The fame lasted about 100 years between 1660 to 1740. Fajance came to Sweden straight from Holland mainly in shapes of squares that was used to protect the walls from heat and moist in window panes and behind the now so fashionable tile stove.