English & Irish Delftware: 1570-1840

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Tin-glazed earthenware has been made in Europe since the 15th century. In Britain, floor tiles and drug pots were made in Aldgate, London in the 16th century by immigrant potters from the Low Countries. In the early 17th century factories making dishes and other wares were set up in London close to the River Thames. Their products were initially much influenced by Chinese porcelain, as well as by Italian maiolica. Manufacture spread from London to centres such as Bristol, Liverpool and Dublin. Known as gally ware in the 17th century, this type of pottery has come to be known as delftware from the Dutch town of Delft which was renowned for its manufacture. Although impervious to liquids, delftware is quite fragile as it is fired at a relatively low temperature. However, it was made for many domestic uses: for eating and drinking, for pharmaceutical and hygienic purposes, and not infrequently for display. It was usually decorated by hand with painted inscriptions, coats-of-arms or splendid scenes - mainly Biblical, allegorical or pastoral - or else in imitation Chinese style. Delftware production continued in centres all over the British Isles, including Ireland, until the early 19th century, although from the middle of the 18th century it was being displaced by both porcelain and durable cream-coloured earthenware, after almost 300 years of continuous production. The British Museum collection of delftware, which was established in the later part of the 19th century, is one of the finest in the world. It is especially notable for the number of pieces bearing dates and for those which document historical personages and events. This beautifully illustrated book will feature 120-150 items from this extensive collection and include pieces which have never before been fully described or published in colour.