The painter Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) was born in Delft. Vermeer used Delft streets and home interiors as the subject or background of his paintings.
After the Act of Abjuration was proclaimed in 1581 Delft became the de facto capital of the newly independent Netherlands, as the seat of the Prince of Orange.
Several other famous painters lived and worked in Delft at that time, such as Pieter de Hoogh, Carel Fabritius, Nicolaes Maes, Gerard Houckgeest and Hendrick Cornelisz. van Vliet. They all were members of the Delft School. The Delft School is known for its images of domestic life, views of households, church interiors, courtyards, squares and the streets of Delft. The painters also produced pictures showing historic events, flower paintings, portraits for patrons and the court, and decorative pieces of art.
Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) is one of three universities of technology in the Netherlands. It was founded as an academy for civil engineering in 1842 by King William II. Today well over 16,000 students are enrolled. The UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, providing postgraduate education for people from developing countries, draws on the strong tradition in water management and hydraulic engineering of the Delft university.
The earliest tin-glazed pottery in the Netherlands was made in Antwerp by Guido da Savino in 1512. The manufacture of painted pottery may have spread from the south to the northern Netherlands in the 1560s. It was made in Middelburg and Haarlem in the 1570s and in Amsterdam in the 1580s. Much of the finer work was produced in Delft, but simple everyday tin-glazed pottery was made in places such as Gouda, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Dordrecht.
The main period of tin-glaze pottery in the Netherlands was 1640-1740. From about 1640 Delft potters began using personal monograms and distinctive factory marks. The Guild of St Luke, to which painters in all media had to belong, admitted ten master potters in the thirty years between 1610 and 1640 and twenty in the nine years 1651 to 1660. In 1654 a gunpowder explosion in Delft destroyed many breweries and as the brewing industry was in decline they became available to pottery makers looking for larger premises; some retained the old brewery names, making them famous throughout northern Europe, e.g. The Double Tankard, The Young Moors' Head and The Three Bells. The use of marl, a type of clay rich in calcium compounds, allowed the Dutch potters to refine their technique and to make finer items. The usual clay body of Delftware was a blend of three clays, one local, one from Tournai and one from the Rhineland.
From about 1615, the potters began to coat their pots completely in white tin glaze instead of covering only the painting surface and coating the rest with clear ceramic glaze. They then began to cover the tin-glaze with clear glaze, which gave depth to the fired surface and smoothness to cobalt blues, ultimately creating a good resemblance to porcelain. 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 17th century. 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 after the death of the Wanli Emperor in 1620, when the supply to Europe was interrupted. Delftware inspired by Chinese originals persisted from about 1630 to the mid-18th 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.