Blue Paintbrushes carefully touch the white earthenware, whilst elsewhere clay is poured into handmade moulds. It is here, at Royal Delft, that craftsmen have been creating iconic Delft Blue for almost 400 years. A visit to Royal Delft, one of the icons of the Netherlands, should be on every expat’s bucket list. Visit Royal Delft and discover history, craftsmanship and innovation. Aubine Zechner, Event Manager at Royal Delft, tells us why.
The Dutch East India Company sailed the seas of Asia in the 17th century, bringing back exotic treasures from all over the world. One of the most popular imports into the Netherlands was the beautiful blue and white porcelain from China. Wealthy Europeans quickly fell for its splendour and the pieces were found in houses all over the continent. Sadly, due to civil war in China, imports ceased. The hunger for blue and white ceramics, however, did not. The entrepreneurial Dutch decided to imitate Chinese porcelain and were very successful in doing so. In a short time there were no fewer than 32 factories in Delft alone making blue and white earthenware! It was on 28 March 1653 that Anthonisz van der Pieth started De Porceleyne Fles on the Oosteinde in Delft. Nowadays, there is just one remaining factory from the Golden Age: Royal Delft.
People from all over the world come to Royal Delft to meet the craftsmen that create the world-famous Delft Blue day in, day out. Whilst the majority of the visitors come from abroad, the company has noticed an increase in interest from the Dutch. The temporary exhibitions that have been shown over the past couple of years, from the Dutch fashion designer Tess van Zalinge who was inspired by Delft Blue to an overview exhibition of the company in the years 1860-1940, are also of interest to expats, as a visit to Royal Delft is never the same!
Zechner lived in the US herself as an expat, so she knows how important it is to feel at home in a foreign country. She pays extra attention to ensure everybody who visits Royal Delft feel at home there: “I enjoy spending time with people living in the Netherlands temporarily. In my new role the expat community has become even more important. There is a large demand for typically Dutch locations for events – both corporate and private. The monumental museum and factory lend themselves for a unique event in an atmospheric location. Especially our courtyard garden gets a lot of praise from first-time visitors.”
Although people come for Delft Blue initially, it is the building that holds the most surprises for guests. The building showcases ceramics throughout the building and the garden gives the building an almost convent-like feel. The Delft Blue version of the Nightwatch by Rembrandt is also extremely popular, especially for exclusive dinners after opening hours. Zechner: “Royal Delft attracts 140.000 visitors annually from all over the world, but some visits stand out as extraordinary. The first time a First Lady visited was quite exciting for me. Or the time the Dutch King and Queen visited to discuss their new official tableware. You get used to these special visits, but in the end you realise each visit is special. Everybody takes an hour of two out of their day to visit our royal company. The name Royal Delft is internationally renowned, making it a very special place to work.”
“Seeing our master painters at work has a calming effect on people. At Royal Delft people can try their hand at the craft themselves during a painting workshop. You will be shown by a skilled mentor how to use all the various brushes and how the paint reacts to earthenware. After painting, Royal Delft craftsmen will glaze and fire the piece and send it to your home. If you are looking for a truly unique gift, a commissioned Royal Delft piece is perfect. When asked to create a commission – a birth plate, a personalized corporate gift – and the master painters’ creativity is mixed with the Royal Delft Blue DNA, magic happens.” Whether you have relatives visiting from abroad, are looking for a family day out or for that perfect gift, Royal Delft is the place to be.
2628 AR Delft
Royal Delft is open 7 days a week. Check the up-to-date opening hours at: www.royaldelft.com
Especially for the readers of the Holland Times, a behind-thescenes guided tour will be offered at Royal Delft on Saturday 19 October and Saturday 16 November 2019 from 14.00-15.30 for the special price of € 8,75 p.p.
Please register before 12 October 2019 with Aubine Zechner, [email protected] and indicate the preferred date of your visit.