"During the Dutch Golden Age, the Dutch East India Company had a lively trade with the East and imported millions of pieces of Chinese porcelain in the early 1600s. The Chinese workmanship and attention to detail impressed many. Only the richest could afford the early imports. Although Dutch potters did not immediately imitate Chinese porcelain, they began to do after the death of the Emperor Wan-Li in 1619, when the supply to Europe was interrupted. Delftware inspired by Chinese originals persisted from about 1630 to the mid-eighteenth century alongside European patterns.
By about 1700 several factories were using enamel colours and gilding over tin-glaze, requiring a third kiln firing at a lower temperature.
Delftware ranged from simple household items - plain white earthenware with little or no decoration - to fancy artwork. Most of the Delft factories made sets of jars, the kast-stel set. Pictorial plates were made in abundance, illustrated with religious motifs, native Dutch scenes with windmills and fishing boats, hunting scenes, landscapes and seascapes. Sets of plates were made with the words and music of songs; dessert was served on them and when the plates were clear the company started singing. The Delft potters also made tiles in vast numbers (estimated at eight hundred million)over a period of two hundred years; many Dutch houses still have tiles that were fixed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries."