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European Pottery to End of 18th Century

wares, designs, found, date, earthenware, lustre and decoration

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EUROPEAN POTTERY TO END OF 18TH CENTURY Byzantine.—The Eastern Empire with its capital at Con stantinople was the channel through which, after the downfall of Roman civilisation in the West, the art and culture of the East was communicated to Europe, and the artistic ancestry of later European pottery is to be sought, in part, in this quarter. Evidence is scanty, however, as to the nature of Byzantine pottery, owing to the cessation of the pre-Christian custom of burying earthenware and other vessels in the tombs of the dead. What little we know is derived from finds of potsherds in excavations at Constantinople and a few sites in Greece, Cyprus, the Crimea and elsewhere. These are of two main types, both of red-bodied earthenware with a surface coating of transparent lead glaze. The decoration in one type is in relief, produced with impressions of a wooden stamp ; in the other it is of the kind known as sgraffito, engraved with a pointed tool through a coating of white slip. The f rag ments are mostly those of bowls and deep dishes ; the ornamental motives include human figures, animals and birds of symbolic import, simple leaf designs, interlacements, monograms and the Greek cross. The glaze is generally yellow ; a bright copper-green is also found.

Hispano-Moresque Ware.

The chronology of the Byzantine wares discussed above is difficult to establish, but it is probable that they date from the two or three centuries immediately pre ceding the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1456. Pottery of artistic quality was known long before this date in Spain, f rag ments with painted decoration akin to that of the contemporary wares of Mesopotamia and Egypt having been found on the site of Medina az-Zahra, the palace of the Caliphs near Cordova, destroyed in the 11th century. References are found in writers of the 12th century and later to the "golden pottery" of Calatayud (in Aragon) and of the Kingdom of Granada; this phrase un doubtedly means the tin-enamelled earthenwares painted in metal lic lustre colours, derived from silver and copper, which are the most famous of the Hispano-Moresque wares, although no sur viving specimens are known which can be referred to a date earlier than the 14th century. To this period belong the celebrated vase in the Alhambra, with its decoration of confronted gazelles, ara besques and inscriptions, in golden lustre with touches of blue, and the similar vases scattered in various museums. A bowl of similar

style, at Berlin, which is marked with the name of Malaga, sug gests that that city rather than Granada was the place of origin of this Andalusian class of lustred pottery. In later times the manu facture passed to the kingdom of VALENCIA, whence in the 15th century such wares were shipped to place's so far distant as Leeu warden, London, the Crimea and Cairo. The chief Valencian pot tery centre in the 14th century was Paterna, where quantities of enamelled ware have been found with human figures, animals and foliage designs of pronouncedly Gothic character painted in man ganese-purple and green. In the neighbouring town of Manises, on the domain of the Buyl family, lustred pottery was made which the writings of Eximenes show to have been already famous for its beauty in 1383. In the earlier Manises wares we find designs of strongly Oriental character, comprising the Islamic "tree of life," palm-motives and Arabic inscriptions (generally the word alafia, "blessing," repeated in formalized characters). Early in the 15th century we find bold heraldic animals in blue against lus tred spirals, and from about 1450, especially in wares made with heraldic designs for export to Italy, beautiful diapers of vine leaves and small flowers. In the 16th century renaissance foliage makes its appearance, and in the decadent 17th century wares a crowded ornament of birds and leaves in a fiery copper lustre. Fine blue-and-white wares were made at Teruel (Aragon). At Seville and Toledo especially were produced polychrome-enamelled tiles, at first cut so as to form geometrical and other designs in enamel pigments, which are kept within the outlines, first by painting these in manganese mixed with a greasy medium (de cuerda seca), and afterwards (from about I5ro) by moulding the outlines in slight relief (de cuenca). Earthenware dishes with bold animal designs executed by the cuerda seca technique were made at Toledo. Mention must be made also of the great amphora-shaped wine-jars, well-heads and fonts with stamped or incised ornament, sometimes covered with a green enamel, which were made at Triana (Seville) and elsewhere in southern Spain in the 14th and 15th centuries.

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