Did you know that the Dutch craze for blue and white ceramics was, at least in part, the result of piracy? In 1603, the Santa Catarina, a Portuguese merchant ship, was seized by the Dutch East India Company off the coast of Singapore with over 100,000 pieces of Chinese porcelain on board. Even though Holland was at war with Portugal at the time, there’s no doubt that this was an act of piracy – the crew were vouchsafed their lives in return for handing over the loot. When this cargo was sold in Amsterdam, it caused a great sensation, and blue and white ceramics became the hottest trend in town, not just for the aristocracy, but for everyone.
Although the potters in Delft originally copied the Chinese designs due to the huge popularity of the originals from that ship, they began incorporating Dutch motifs and original designs through the 1600s, and Defltware became the most popular and biggest selling makers of ceramics from 1600 to 1800. The style is still popular today and it’s possible to visit the factory of Royal Delft to see ceramics being the made the same way they have been for over 400 years.