Many years ago I stood for a long time in front of Mantegna’s painting The Adoration of the Magi, transfixed by the delicate blue and white porcelain vessel in which one of the Magi was presenting his gift of gold coins. The cup is Ming porcelain, and in 1490, when Mantegna painted this picture, it was incredibly rare and precious, and so its inclusion in the painting is symbolic.

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It is a tiny feature of the painting and yet so exquisitely painted that I have always remembered it. My mother collected blue and white china, and in the way that we daughters like to be different, I have not. And yet, the fresh charm of a blue and white striped jug, or French everyday tableware of the 1930s, or even an Asiatic Pheasant plate worn to the softest blue can be hard to resist. Even white enamel with a crisp edging of navy is appealing – remember the 1990s rage for blue and white ticking and navy-edged enamel ware?

Many of the dealers at the fair will have blue and white ceramics, textiles, or decorative objets such as the collection of books below, so if this is your palette you should find something to add to your scheme or collection.

The charm of blue and white