Delft Tiles

An grid image. At the top is a picture of a wooden fireplace. Tiles line the edge and are white and purple. Inside the fireplace there is a log and a fake red light. On the bottom left there is an image of a castle overlooking a river, and the next tile shows a windmill.
Ryerse Family Delft tiles in the Eldon House library

Country of Origin: Netherlands
Year: ca. 1760s
Materials: Porcelain and glaze 

Decorative tiles have been used globally for centuries. The Dutch start producing a form of tin glazed tiles around the 1500s after Italian artisans bring this artform to the Low Countries, including Belgium and the Netherlands. By the 17th century the creation of thinner and finer tiles was occurring in the Netherlands, with the center of production in Delft, in the southern part of the country.

Production changed to glaze the entire surface of the pottery, leading to porcelain like finish. Cobalt blue also becomes a popular colour in the 17th century, and Delft makers also begin copying Chinese designs. However, it was fireplace tiles that gained the most amount of popularity, and ones that depicted traditional Dutch landscapes were most sought after.

The tiles around the library fireplace have a connection to the Ryerse Family. The first matriarch of Eldon House, Amelia Ryerse, had Dutch ancestry. Her family brought these tiles with them when they immigrated to North America, and they were given to John and Amelia as a wedding present in 1815.