Our Love Of Blue and White Pottery: Snippet Of The Day Number 2
Many of us love blue and white pottery, and I am one of the many, but the question is why?
Blue and white pottery has been around for, literally, a millennium. It has been made by a large number of manufacturers, with the only thing in common being the predominance of a blue colouration, with some white.
It is also includes flow blue: a blue glaze that blurs/ flows during firing. Flow blue was popular in the Victorian era, particularly in the U.S where it is still popular today.
Blue and white pottery or porcelain start life as white pottery. This is decorated underglaze with blue pigmentation; usually cobalt oxide. The decoration can be applied in several ways including, hand painting, stencilling and transfer-printing.
The origin of blue and white pottery can be traced back to the 9th Century and, contrary to popular opinion, originated in Iraq (Persia) and not China; albeit using Chinese stoneware. Chinese blue and white porcelain appeared in larger numbers from the 14th Century, using cobalt pigment exported from Iraq to China. I think most of us will have heard of the 15th Century Ming Dynasty pottery!
Europe loved the Chinese imports but didn’t develop their own tin-glazed earthenware until the 16th Century, with the introduction of Delft ware in The Netherlands. This was then followed by other famous manufacturers including Meissen (Germany), Worcester (UK), Wedgwood and Spode (to name just a few!).
One of the most enduring patterns is ‘Willow,’ which looks like it should have been invented in China. However, it was actually introduced in the UK, albeit heavily influenced by Chinese imported pottery designs. The actual inventor of the Willow pattern is attributed to Spode, Staffordshire, UK but many other Staffordshire potteries were using similar, but slightly different, designs.
I know I haven’t quite answered the question of why we love blue and white. Maybe it is because of the numerous designs, the aesthetically pleasing colour combination and patterns, and the fact that it is associated with the development of white porcelain and tin glaze? For me, it is a combination of all these factors and perhaps more than a little visceral sentience!