Why I Still Love Blue Dutch Delft Tile

by Emmi Micallef September 15, 2016

antique delft tile and antique Belgian bluestone flooring

Spending some time in Amsterdam this past summer, I saw the ubiquitous delftware bowls, plates and mugs.  Commercialization to the extreme, tourists seemed to be buying them perhaps for a fond memory of their trip.  One bowl here, one plate there...I was not impressed.

The reason for my discontent came to me afterward, while researching Delft Tile for this blog. 

According to historian Caiger-Smith, "Some regard Delftware from about 1750 onward as artistically inferior...little trace of feeling or originality remained...and at the end of the 18th century - the Delftware potteries began to go out of business."

This made sense to me for my eye was always drawn to those Delft tiles during the Dutch Golden Age during the early 17th century.  This was when the Dutch East India Company, having a lively trade with the East, imported millions of pieces of Chinese porcelain.  It was the Chinese workmanship and attention to detail that impressed so many where only the richest could afford these early imports.

1Delft Tiles and Antique Delft Tiles are famous blue and white Delft Tiles that are hand painted with a Dutch blue glaze used to decorate kitchen  backsplash, fireplace surrounds and bathrooms  with Delft Tiles and Antique Delft tiles and Decorative Blue and White Delft Tiles and Dutch Tiles

This vase is found in the Pushkin Museum, Russia as a representation of early fine Delftware imitating fine Chinese porcelain circa 1680.

The early Dutch potters began to imitate the Chinese porcelain - with acute attention to detail and artistry provoking emotions of joy and fond remembrance of life living in Amsterdam during it's Golden Age.

Delft Tiles and Antique Delft Tiles are famous blue and white Delft Tiles that are hand painted with a Dutch blue glaze used to decorate kitchen  backsplash, fireplace surrounds and bathrooms  with Delft Tiles and Antique Delft tiles and Decorative Blue and White Delft Tiles and Dutch Tiles

As I ruminate this time period and the Delft potters paintings, I conclude how appealing to me, this idea, that authentic 17th century life in Amsterdam was captured and fired onto hand made porcelain tiles.  No archaeologist needed to understand what a slice of life was like during this time period...which seems to me tranquil and idyllic.  Observing children at play or the numerable ships coming into port - artists retold seemingly happy stories unfolding before them.

I also am amused that Delft tiles at this time where of course for the rich...adorning palaces and great kitchens...

Delft Tiles and Antique Delft Tiles are famous blue and white Delft Tiles that are hand painted with a Dutch blue glaze used to decorate kitchen  backsplash, fireplace surrounds and bathrooms  with Delft Tiles and Antique Delft tiles and Decorative Blue and White Delft Tiles and Dutch Tiles

This photo is the kitchen of the Amalienburg, Nymphenburg Palace...and shall I bring your attention to the hexagon terra cotta tiles?  Antique French hexagon terra cotta tiles, perhaps?

Delft Tiles and Antique Delft Tiles are famous blue and white Delft Tiles that are hand painted with a Dutch blue glaze used to decorate kitchen  backsplash, fireplace surrounds and bathrooms  with Delft Tiles and Antique Delft tiles and Decorative Blue and White Delft Tiles and Dutch Tiles

This photo above is an antique Delft tile installation of a swimming pool in the same palace.

Delft Tiles and Antique Delft Tiles are famous blue and white Delft Tiles that are hand painted with a Dutch blue glaze used to decorate kitchen  backsplash, fireplace surrounds and bathrooms  with Delft Tiles and Antique Delft tiles and Decorative Blue and White Delft Tiles and Dutch Tiles

And this room is found in the Chateau de Groussay, Montfort near Paris with an installation of 10,000 antique Delft tiles.

The following photo below is one of my favorite for it's artistry and color of the antique Delft tile...

Delft Tiles and Antique Delft Tiles are famous blue and white Delft Tiles that are hand painted with a Dutch blue glaze used to decorate kitchen  backsplash, fireplace surrounds and bathrooms  with Delft Tiles and Antique Delft tiles and Decorative Blue and White Delft Tiles and Dutch Tiles

which happens to be a toilet in the Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen.

Here is a photo of a fireplace...an installation found in the home of...

Delft Tiles and Antique Delft Tiles are famous blue and white Delft Tiles that are hand painted with a Dutch blue glaze used to decorate kitchen  backsplash, fireplace surrounds and bathrooms  with Delft Tiles and Antique Delft tiles and Decorative Blue and White Delft Tiles and Dutch Tiles

Victor Hugo...in his dining room, Hauteville House, Guernesey 1860.

On our trip to Amsterdam this summer, walking through Rembrandt's house...

Delft Tiles and Antique Delft Tiles are famous blue and white Delft Tiles that are hand painted with a Dutch blue glaze used to decorate kitchen  backsplash, fireplace surrounds and bathrooms  with Delft Tiles and Antique Delft tiles and Decorative Blue and White Delft Tiles and Dutch Tiles

Rembrandt installed a Delft Tile baseboard.

And finally, this wonderful 17th century historic kitchen in the Hospice Comtesse, Lille France. 

Delft Tiles and Antique Delft Tiles are famous blue and white Delft Tiles that are hand painted with a Dutch blue glaze used to decorate kitchen  backsplash, fireplace surrounds and bathrooms  with Delft Tiles and Antique Delft tiles and Decorative Blue and White Delft Tiles and Dutch Tiles

Please note the antique Belgian bluestone flooring and the antique terra cotta bricks in the fireplace. It never ceases to amaze me how lasting and beautiful there historic decorative materials are....

But onto my second point - that these 17th century Delft tiles also found themselves in humble dwellings - like this old farmhouse interior in Hoogland near Utrecht.

Delft Tiles and Antique Delft Tiles are famous blue and white Delft Tiles that are hand painted with a Dutch blue glaze used to decorate kitchen  backsplash, fireplace surrounds and bathrooms  with Delft Tiles and Antique Delft tiles and Decorative Blue and White Delft Tiles and Dutch Tiles

Or this classic farmhouse in Amsterdam where the yellow wall marries so beautifully with the blue delft tile ships.  I imagine this farmhouse is near one of the busy shipping ports or maybe even a ship captain's home?

Delft Tiles and Antique Delft Tiles are famous blue and white Delft Tiles that are hand painted with a Dutch blue glaze used to decorate kitchen  backsplash, fireplace surrounds and bathrooms  with Delft Tiles and Antique Delft tiles and Decorative Blue and White Delft Tiles and Dutch Tiles

But I cannot help continue to ponder deeper why I am drawn to Delft tile, aside from it's historical perspective. Perhaps it's the blue glaze.  Rolling with this idea. I researched the color blue and from a psychological perspective, "the color blue reduces stress, creates a sense of calmness, relaxation and order...it is also considered a nostalgic and most universally liked color." 

Yes - I can understand this.  But there is something more.  I have concluded that when I observe an entire wall, or room for that matter, of finely painted Delft tiles - the juxtaposition of the tiles, each telling it's own story, communicates charmingly with it's neighbor. This in turn creates a larger narrative which makes my imagination soar. (This is a good thing...) Following this - the intricateness of the paintings become interconnected as a final abstract form - essentially creating larger geometric patterns that imposes upon a room a grander scale of visual delight.

Phew!  Who ever thought so much about Delft tile???  Well, that would be me - and it began when I was a child sitting in some sort of tea parlor.  It was a sunny day - I recall white trim and delft tiles reflecting into my vision from every corner of the room.  I was mesmerized - certainly one of "those" moments frozen in time as if it were yesterday.

When I began working with François in 2000, I could not stop dreaming about painting my own Delft tile collection.  I wanted to, perhaps, relive this Golden age of Amsterdam where life seemed endlessly charming and idyllic.  

Delft Tiles and Antique Delft Tiles are famous blue and white Delft Tiles that are hand painted with a Dutch blue glaze used to decorate kitchen  backsplash, fireplace surrounds and bathrooms  with Delft Tiles and Antique Delft tiles and Decorative Blue and White Delft Tiles and Dutch Tiles

Delft Tiles and Antique Delft Tiles are famous blue and white Delft Tiles that are hand painted with a Dutch blue glaze used to decorate kitchen  backsplash, fireplace surrounds and bathrooms  with Delft Tiles and Antique Delft tiles and Decorative Blue and White Delft Tiles and Dutch Tiles

Delft Tiles and Antique Delft Tiles are famous blue and white Delft Tiles that are hand painted with a Dutch blue glaze used to decorate kitchen  backsplash, fireplace surrounds and bathrooms  with Delft Tiles and Antique Delft tiles and Decorative Blue and White Delft Tiles and Dutch Tiles

Delft Tiles and Antique Delft Tiles are famous blue and white Delft Tiles that are hand painted with a Dutch blue glaze used to decorate kitchen  backsplash, fireplace surrounds and bathrooms  with Delft Tiles and Antique Delft tiles and Decorative Blue and White Delft Tiles and Dutch Tiles

 As I look back at my work - which took, may I say, years to accomplish...I feel I recreated a version of this classic Delft Tile in my own style - with less flourish and more clean to the eye...but not without passion...perhaps like those Delftware potters so long ago - capturing their idyllic life unfolding before their eyes.

Delft Tile and Antique Belgian Blue Stone Flooring

If you are interested in viewing my Dutch 17th Century Antiqued Delft Tile Collection, please click here.

Thank you for your time in reading this blog...

Emmi Micallef. co-owner Historic Decorative Materials, a division of Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc.

 



Emmi Micallef
Emmi Micallef

Author



Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Meanderings of Our Authentic Life

Pave Tile Wood & Stone, Inc. suppliers of French reclaimed and aged French limestone flooring, Belgian Bluestone floors, French reclaimed terra cotta tiles, French oak flooring, hand painted decorative patterned wall tiles, Zellige tiles from Morocco, Del
Why is One of the Best Showrooms in the Nation for French, Belgian and English Reclaimed Limestone and French Oak Flooring in Western Massachusetts?

by Emmi Micallef October 20, 2020

This is a personal blog about a man who has not stopped in 35 years.  He has been on a quest to recreate a childhood lost - here - where he found himself among the woods of Western Massachusetts.  Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc. Showroom is a sacred space where one man continues to source, import, install and build out a showroom with only the best tile, wood and stone that France, Belgium, Italy and England has to offer.  Pavé means traveling to Europe without having to cross an ocean.

Continue Reading

French reclaimed oak floors are created with old French oak to create réédition French reclaimed oak flooring
Old Growth Oak Superbly Crafted into a Réédition French Reclaimed Oak Floor from our Kings of France 18th Century French Oak Flooring Collection

by Emmi Micallef October 20, 2020

The Olde Oak Series from our Kings of France 18th Century French Oak Flooring Collection are for those who cherish rustic elegance, superb wood craftsmanship and incredible authenticity.  Our latest French oak wood flooring collection at Historic Decorative Materials not only resembles, but perhaps surpasses reclaimed French oak floors.

Continue Reading

Kings of France 18th Century French Oak Flooring ressembles Reclaimed French Oak Flooring that marries with antique Belgian bluestone, French limestone floors, petite granite floors for classic English interiors, luxury, farmhouse and minimalist homes
Raising the Bar - Our Kings of France 18th Century French Oak Floors - The Country House and The Great House Collections

by Emmi Micallef May 06, 2020

"Raising the Bar" begins the title of my latest blog where I discuss in detail why our Kings of France 18th Century French and European Oak Floors are above and beyond what is offered for wood flooring on the market and how highly crafted natural French oak floors help create the serenity we need in our homes today.  As a two-part blog, in Part 1, I also delve into the differences between the Great House and the Country House Collections within the Kings of France 18th Century French and Euro...

Continue Reading