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Blue and White China

Updated on December 6, 2014

Blue and White China

Blue and white china or porcelain has a magical quality that can add style and class to domestic interiors. This feature was appreciated by early Dutch travellers to the East, who quickly realised the commercial potential.

Once the magic of blue and white became affordable in Europe, pretty china pieces began to appear in art works, lending movement and colour to still life paintings. We see them in the works of artists such as Vermeer and Monet, and many others down the centuries have been inspired to use these domestic treasures for inspiration.

The clean, elegant simplicity of blue and white pattern still fascinates us today. Read on to find out more about the history of this beautiful product.

Early Chinese blue and white porcelain
Early Chinese blue and white porcelain

Porcelain and China

The name porcelain is actually derived from an old Italian word porcellana (cowrie shell) because of its similarity to the delicate lightness and sheen of a shell. Chinese porcelains were highly prized by Europeans and the English word 'china' came to represent this type of pottery.

Blue and white porcelain was first produced in Jingdezhen, China during the Yuan Dynasty. European potters tried hard to match the translucent quality of this delicate porcelain, but were unsuccessful. The secrets of production were finally discovered and revealed by a Jesuit priest, Francois Xavier d'Entrecolles, in the eighteenth century.

Spode Blue and White Italian Handled Serving Dish

Spode 783931408892 Blue Italian Handled Serving Dish, 11.5 x 8, White
Spode 783931408892 Blue Italian Handled Serving Dish, 11.5 x 8, White

This elegant Spode serving dish is one of my favorites. It's decorated with a pretty Chinese inspired design on beautiful white porcelain and comes with good sized handles that make it easy to lift from a hot oven.


Blue and White Tiles from Delft

The potters and tile makers of Delft in the Netherlands soon saw the potential of Chinese blue-and-white and although they were unable to reproduce the quality they did manage to make a cheaper, more practical product. Very soon blue and white tiles were produced in great quantities to adorn the walls of new houses in Delft. Delft tiles also appear in several of Vermeer's paintings.

Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window
Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window

Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window

In this picture by Johannes Vermeer a blue and white fruit bowl with tumbling fruit provides a contrast to the austere light from the open window. Vermeer sometimes used blue and white china in his paintings.

Imported dishes such as this fruit bowl were still expensive at this time (around 1657) and the rich rug decorating the table was then too precious to use as a floor covering.

Still Life With Melon - Claude Monet

Decorative Pieces

Blue and white china pieces are excellent for adding a light decorator touch to a window or shelf space or anywhere around the home where they might be easily appreciated.

Commemorative Plate

A Pretty Window

pretty window with blues
pretty window with blues

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