Ceramics in context

The VOC’s porcelain trade in the 17th and 18th centuries

Chinese porcelain was already known in the Netherlands before 1600 thanks to trade with Portugal and the voyages of the so-called pre-companies (voorcompagnieën) to Asia, but it was a scarce and expensive product. The auctions of porcelain seized from two captured Portuguese ships, the São Tiago in 1602 in Middelburg and the Santa Catarina in 1604 in Amsterdam marked a turning point: suddenly a relatively large quantity of porcelain became available for an interested public with money to spend. Since then, Chinese, and later Japanese porcelain, has been a constant presence in the material culture of the Northern Netherlands.