‘Delftware Tiles’ provides a tidy overview


‘Delftware Tiles,’ is a compact, powerhouse of information on the history and production of this tin-glazed earthenware. The book was originally published in 1986, and a second edition was published in 2005 and reprinted in 2010. The author, ceramics expert Hans van Lemmen, who is the president and a founding member of the Tile and Architectural Ceramics Society (www.tilesoc.org.uk), has written several books for Shire Library.

Van Lemmen outlines delftware tile production through the centuries, from its introduction in the Low Countries (modern Belgium and the Netherlands) by Italian potters in the early 16th century through the challenges offered by Oriental imports to delftware produced today. Native potters adopted the technique brought by the Italians, and when artisans fled Antwerp in the middle of the 16th century, as hostilities broke out between Spain and the Netherlands, they settled in England and the Netherlands, bringing their practices with them.

‘Delftware Tiles’ explains the tile production and decorating processes from start to finish, illustrated by photographs of contemporary artisans. It also explores the various uses of the tiles, their historic significance and the differences between Dutch and English delftware. Though the quantity of delftware tiles that were produced is minor compared to the rest of the potters’ products, these beautiful artworks in miniature are lovingly studied and preserved. A few large factories still produce delftware tiles, as do a number of tile artists.

This delftware tile history is lavishly illustrated with bright, crisp full-color images of tiles from the 16th century through tiles made in the 20th century. Though no values are given for the illustrated tiles, the book does offer a glossary of terms, a list of further reading and places to visit in Great Britain and the Netherlands where you can see these historic tiles, some even in situ. ?


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'Delftware Tiles,' by Hans van Lemmen, Shire Publications, 2010, softcover, 48 pages, $12.95, www.shirebooks.co.uk.

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