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Wellesley College Art



No. 4.-MAI0LICA.

These Handbooks are reprints of the dissertations prefixed to the
large catalogues of the chief divisions of works of art in the Museum
at South Kensington; arranged and so far abridged as to bring each
into a portable shape. The Lords of the Committee of Council on
Education having determined on the publication of them, the editor
trusts that they will meet the purpose intended; namely ', to be useful,
not alone for the collections at South Kensington but for other collec-
tions, by C7iabling the public at a trifling cost to understand something
of the history and character of the subjects treated of

The authorities referred to in each book are given in the large
catalogues ; where will also be found detailed descriptions of the very
numerous examples in the South Kensington Museum.

W. M.

August, 1875.





Published for the Committee of Council on Education




+7? \ 7


Persian wall tile
Damascus plate
Hispano-moresque vase
Rhodian plate ...

Vase with imitative Arabic inscription
Fragment of Damascus vase, from Pisa
Siculo-moresque bowl ...
Tondo by Luca della Robbia
Betrothal deep plate, Gubbio
Plateau, with portrait, Pesaro (?) ,
Sgraffiato circular dish ...
Vase, Gubbio (?)
Dish or plateau, Urbino ...
Circular dish, Urbino
Plate, a maiolica painter
Florentine mark
Vases, &c. , from the manuscript of Piccolpasso
Dish, with portrait
Ancient Persian plate
Rhodian shallow bowl
Damascus marks
Plateau, Malaga (?)
,, Spanish














Dish, Valencia ... ... ... ... ... 82

Hispano-moresque marks ... ... ... ... ... 83

Inscription on a vase ... ... ... ... ... ... 84

Sgraffiato bowl ... ... ... ... ... ... 87

Plateau, early Tuscan (?) ... ... ... ... ... 90

Tazza plate, Caffaggiolo .. ... ... ... ... 91

Plate, Caffaggiolo ... ... ... ... ... ... 91

Ewer, or large pitcher ... ... ... ... ... ... 93

Vase, Caffaggiolo ... ... ... ... ... ... 95

Drug-vase, Siena ... ... .. ; ... ... ... 97

Plate, Siena ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 98

Plate, by Maestro Benedetto ... ... ... ... ... 98

Mark of Benedetto ... ... .. ... ... ... 99

Mark on Mr. Henderson's dish ... ... ... ... ... 99

Mark on dish in Hotel Cluny' ... ... ... ... ... 101

Bacile on dish, with portrait ... ... ... ... ... 105

,, incredulity of St. Thomas ... ... ... .. ... 107

Pesaro inscription ... ... ... ... ... ... 109

Vase, Gubbio ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 112

Dish, two horsemen ... ... ... ... ... ... 113

Plaque, St. Sebastian ... ... ... ... ... ... 116

Bowl... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 117

Tazza or bowl ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 117

Deep tazza, Hercules and Antreus ... ... ... ... 120

1 lateau ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 121

Mark (probably of Giorgio) with paraphe ... ... ... ... 122

Marks on a plate in the British museum ... ... ... ... 123

Small tazza, "the stream of life" .. ... ... ... ... 124

Fac-similc of Giorgio's mark ... ... ... ... ... 125

Plate, Castel Durante ... ... ... .. ... ... 129

Vase ,, ,, ... ... .. ... .. 131



Mark, Castel Durante ... ... ... ... ... ... 132

Tondino „ ,, ... ... ... ... ... ... 133

Fruttiera „ ,, ... ... ... ... 133

Shallow basin ,, ... ... ... ... ... ... 134

Dish, with portrait of Perugino ... ... ... ... ... 135

Mark and inscription of Nicola da Urbino ... ... ... ... 139

Mark, &c., of Guido ... ... ... ... ... ... 142

Pilgrim's bottle, Urbino ... ... ... ... ... 143

Mark of Francesco Durantino ... ... ... ... ... 151

Dish, with Cupids, Diruta ... ... ... ... ... 156

Fabriano mark ... ... ... ... ... ... 157

Another ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 153

Viterbo, part of a border ... ... ... ... ... 159

Inscription on a Roman vase ... ... ... ... ... l6r

Mark and date on a Faenza plate... ... ... ... ... 165

Plate, Faenza ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 167

Mark on the same plate .. . ... ... ... ... ... 167

Plate, Faenza ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 168

Inscription, Baldasara Manara ... ... ... ... ... 169

Monogram of F. R. ... ... ... ... .. ... 170

Tazza, Faenza ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 171

Plate, Forll ... ... ... ... "... ... ... 175

Inscription, with portrait-heads ... ... ... ... ... 176

Vase, Ferrara ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 17S

Plateau, Venice ... ... ... ... ... ... iSz

,, Venice ... ... ... ... ... ... 1S4

Vase, uncertain fabrique ... ... ... ... ... 1S5

Dish, Tuscan (?) ... ... ... ... ... ... 1S6



It is right, first, to explain that in this dissertation we shall
make constant use of two or three words borrowed from foreign
languages ; one is botega or bottega, implying something between
a workshop and an artist's studio, which it would be difficult to
express by a single English word : another is fabrique, meaning
the private establishment of a master potter of that day, the idea
of which cannot be so well conveyed by factory, pottery, or studio
(itself an imported word), all of which are therein combined and

The history of pottery and its manufacture is a subject of great
extent; because from a very early period of human existence,
known to us only by the tangible memorials of primitive inhabi-
tants, the potter's art appears to have been practised. At first the
vessels were of coarse clay, rude and sun-dried or ill-baked, and
occasionally ornamented with concentric and transverse scratches ;
from which state they gradually developed to the exquisite forms
and decoration of the Greek pottery ; but it would seem that how-
ever universal the production of vessels of baked clay, the art of
applying to them a vitreous covering or glaze was an invention
which emanated from the east, from India or Egypt, Assyria or



On this point Dr. Birch, in the introduction to his erudite work
on ancient pottery, says : " The desire of rendering terra-cotta less
porous, and of producing vessels capable of retaining liquids, gave
rise to the covering of it with a vitreous enamel or glaze. The
invention of glass has hitherto been generally attributed to the
Phoenicians ; but opaque glasses or enamels as old as the
eighteenth dynasty, and enamelled objects as early as the fourth,
have been found in Egypt. The employment of copper to pro-
duce a brilliant blue coloured enamel was very early, both in
Babylonia and Assyria ; but the use of tin for a white enamel, as
recently discovered in the enamelled bricks and vases of Baby-
lonia and Assyria, anticipated, by many centuries, the re-discovery
of that process in Europe in the fifteenth century, and shows the
early application of metallic oxides. This invention apparently
remained for many centuries a secret among the eastern nations
only, enamelled terra-cotta and glass forming articles of com-
mercial export from Egypt and Phoenicia to every part of the
Mediterranean. Among the Egyptians and Assyrians enamelling
was used more frequently than glazing, and their works are conse-
quently a kind of fayence, consisting of a loose frit or body, to
which an enamel adheres, after only a slight fusion. After the
fall of the Roman empire the art of enamelling terra-cotta disap-
peared among the Arab and Moorish races, who had retained a
traditional knowledge of the process. The application of a trans-
parent vitreous coating or glaze over the entire surface, like the
varnish of a picture, is also referable to a high antiquity, and was
universally adopted, either to enhance the beauty of single colours
or to promote the combination of many. Innumerable fragments
and remains of glazed vases, fabricated by the Greeks and
Romans, not only prove the early use of glazing, but also exhibit
in the present day many of the noblest efforts of the potter's art."
It is true that on the Greek, Etruscan, and Roman pottery a
subdued and hardly apparent glazing was applied to the surface
of the pieces, but it is so slight as to leave a barely appreciable


effect upon the eye, beyond that which might be produced by "a
mechanical polish, and so thinly laid on as almost to defy attempts
at proving its nature by chemical investigation ; it is, however,
supposed to have been produced by a dilute aluminous soda glass,
without any trace of lead in its composition, the greater portion of
which was absorbed into the substance of the piece, thereby in-
creasing its hardness and leaving only a faint polish on the surface
of the ware.

In Egypt and the east the use of a distinct glaze {invetriatura
of the Italians), covering the otherwise more porous substance of
the vessel, appears to have been known and to have arrived at
great perfection at a very remote period. It was in fact a superior
ware, equivalent to the porcelain of our days, and from the tech-
nical excellence of some of the smaller pieces has been frequently,
but wrongly, so called.

It will perhaps be as well, before entering further into the con-
sideration of the subject, to define and arrange the objects of our
attention under general heads.

Pottery (Fayenee, Terrag/ia), as distinct from porcelain, is formed
of potter's clay mixed with .marl of argillaceous and calcareous
nature, and sand, variously proportioned, and may be classed
under two divisions: Soft {Fayence a pate tendre), and Hard (Fay-
ence a- pate dure), according to the nature of the composition or
the degree of heat under which it has been fired in the kiln.
What is known generally in England as earthenware is soft, while
stone ware, queen's ware, &c. are hard. The characteristics of the
soft wares are a paste, or body, which may be scratched with a
knife or file, and fusibility, generally, at the heat of a porcelain

These soft wares may be again divided into four subdivisions :
unglazed, lustrous, glazed, and enamelled. Among the three first
of these subdivisions may be* arranged almost all the ancient
pottery of Egypt, Greece, Etruria, and Rome ; as also the larger
portion of that in general use among all nations during mediaeval

B 2


and modern times. We shall be occupied with the glazed and
enamelled wares : the first of which may be again divided into
siliceous or glass glazed, and plumbeous or lead glazed.

In these subdivisions the foundation is in all cases the same.
The mixed clay or " paste " or " body " (varied in composition
according to the nature of the glaze to be superimposed) is formed
by the hand, or on the wheel, or impressed into moulds ; then
slowly dried and baked in a furnace or stove, after which, on cool-
ing, it is in a state to receive the glaze. This is prepared by fusing
sand or other siliceous material with potash or soda to form a
translucent glass, the composition, in the main, of the glaze upon
siliceous wares. The addition of a varying but considerable
quantity of the oxide of lead, by which it is rendered more easily
fusible but still translucent, constitutes the glaze of plumbeous
wares : and the further addition of the oxide of tin produces an
enamel of an opaque white of great purity, which is the character-
istic glazing of stanniferous or tin-glazed wares. In every case
the vitreous substance is reduced to the finest powder by mechani-
cal and other means, being milled with water to the consistency of
cream • into this the dry and absorbent baked piece is dipped and
withdrawn, leaving a coating of the material of the bath adhering
to its surface. A second firing, when quite dry, fuses this coating
into a glazed surface on the piece, rendering it lustrous and im-
permeable to liquids. The two former of these glazes may be
variously coloured by the admixture of metallic oxides, as copper
for green, iron for yellow, &c. ; but they are nevertheless translu-
cent, and show the natural colour of the baked clay beneath.
Vitreous or Glass-Glazed Wares.

The vitreous, silico-alcaline or glass-glazed wares, were of very
ancient date and in all probability had their origin in the east, in
Egypt, or India, or Phoenicia ; indeed the discovery of glass, which
has always been attributed to the latter country, would soon direct
the potter's attention to a mode of covering his porous vessel of
baked earth with a coating of the new material \ but the ordinary


baked clay would not take or hold the glaze, which rose in
bubbles and scaled off, refusing to adhere to the surface, and it
became necessary to form the pieces of a mixed material, consist-
ing of much siliceous sand, some aluminous earth, and probably

small portion of alcali, thus rendering it of a nature approximat-
ing to that of the glaze, and to which the latter firmly adhered.
In some instances, on the finer examples which may probably
have been exposed to a higher temperature in the oven, the glaze
and the body of the piece have become so incorporated as to pro-
duce a semi-translucent substance, analogous to some artificial
porcelains. In its nature this glaze is translucent, and accordingly
we find that when ornamented with designs, they are executed
directly on the " biscuit " or unglazed surface of the piece, which
then receives its vitreous covering through which they are appa-
rent. By means of an oxide of copper the exquisite turquoise
blue of ancient Egypt, " scarcely rivalled after thirty centuries of
human experience," was produced. The green colour was, perhaps,
given by means of another oxide of the same metal ; violet by
manganese or gold, yellow by silver or perhaps by iron, and the
rarer red perhaps by the protoxide of copper. We also find that
bricks and vases of similar glazing, brought to its greatest perfec-
tion in Egypt, were made by the Babylonians and Assyrians.

Throughout Babylonia the sites of ancient buildings afford frag-
ments of glazed pottery. The glaze of those brought from Borsippa
by the abbe Beauchamp, in 1790, was analysed and found to con-
tain neither the oxides of lead nor tin, but to be an alcaline silicate
with alumina, coloured by metallic oxides. A more recent analysis
of Assyrian examples shows that with a base of silicate of soda or
soda glass and oxide of tin the opaque white has been produced,
being the earliest recorded example of "enamelled'' ware. A
small quantity of oxide of lead was also found in the blue glaze
on tiles from Babylonia. At Warka, probably the ancient Ur of
the Chaldees, Mr. Loftus discovered numerous coffins or sarco-
phagi, piled one upon another to the height of forty-five feet, of



peculiar form, and made of terra-cotta glazed with a siliceous glaze
of bluish-green colour. They are formed somewhat like a shoe,
an opening being left at the upper and wider end for the insertion
of the body, and closed by an oval lid which, as well as the upper
part of the coffin, is ornamented with figures and plants in relief.
They are supposed to be of the Sassanian period.

The metallic lustre in decoration was applied, apparently at
an early time, to pottery glazed with a siliceous coating, and
appears to have established itself in Persia. On specimens from
Arabia it is also found, and its use in combination with this
glaze may possibly have preceded the manufacture of lustred
wares coated with the stanniferous enamel, by the eastern potters
of the Balearic islands, Spain, and Sicily.

In northern India, at Sind, and in Persia, wares are made at
the present day of precisely the same character as the ancient
pottery under consideration. Pieces from the former locality,
which were exhibited at the International Exhibition of 187 1,
are composed of a sandy argillaceous frit, ornamented with
pattern in cobalt blue beneath a siliceous glaze. Indeed their
agreement in technical character with some of the pottery of
the ancient Egyptians and Assyrians, and with that produced
in Syria and Persia during the fourteenth, fifteenth, and six-
teenth centuries, is most remarkable. Persia also now produces
inferior wares of the same class, specimens of which, as well as
some of those from India, are preserved in the South Kensington
museum : the engraving on the opposite page represents a wall
tile (no. 623) of the seventeenth century.

We thus see how widely spread, and at how early a period,
the use of this most ancient mode of glazing was established and
brought to perfection. It was the parent of all those wares now
known as Persian, Damascus, Rhodian, or Lindus.
Plumbeous, or Lead Glazed Wares.

The silico-plumbeous or lead-glazed wares were for many ages
and still are the most common, and, in Europe, the most widely


spread class of pottery : indeed, throughout the northern and
western countries lead, in combination with glass, seems to have

been the earliest and until the fifteenth century the only means
known of glazing soft pottery.

We have seen that a certain amount of lead has been found


in some of the blue coloured glazes of Babylonia, and (says Dr.
Percy) "probably employed as a flux;" if so, this might have
been the spring of its general adoption for the purpose of pro-
ducing a more easily fusible and therefore a more ready and
more manageable coating ; but in the east it does not seem to
have supplanted the more elegant and purer siliceous glaze.

Fragments of Grasco-Roman pottery from Tarsus, lamps from
the neighbourhood of Naples, and other examples of a highly
glazed pottery from various antique sites which have all the
appearance of a plumbeous composition, are preserved in many
collections, as at the Louvre, Naples, the British museum, &c.
The paste of which these examples are formed is to all appear-
ance an ordinary potter's clay, generally of a buff colour, and
in no way similar in character to that of the Egyptian or
Assyrian wares, glazed with a true glass. The adhesion of the
vitreous coating to the surface, and its perfect adaptability to
the irregularities of the shaped and moulded pieces, prove its
affinity for the paste of which they are made, and indirectly
that its composition is not the same as that of the Egyptian or
Assyrian glaze.

It is worthy of remark that nearly all these specimens are
found in the south of Europe, examples rarely occurring even
at Rome; and, indeed, it is not improbable that the use of this
glaze had hardly been adopted by the artistic potters before
their art, together with all others, had degenerated under the
Lower Empire. The superabundance of the precious metals
and other rich material, more appreciated by the powerful than
the priceless treasures which art had formed from common clay,
and which had been the delight of a more refined state of
society, led finally to a total neglect of the higher branches of
ceramic manufacture.

It is not unlikely that plumbeous glaze may have been intro-
duced by Greek or oriental potters into southern Italy. We
learn from the monk Theophilus that the art of decorating fictile


vessels with vitreous colours was practised by the Byzantine
Greeks, who would have carried it there. This statement, in
all probability, refers to the lead glazed wares and not to the
tin enamel, the former of which, as we have seen, was known
earlier than his time to the potters of Tarsus, Pompeii, &c, and
it is reasonable to believe that the art may have been preserved
in Byzantium when lost, or nearly lost, in Italy. Perhaps, in
combination with incised ornament the use of this glaze never
ceased in that country from the eighth and ninth centuries until
the introduction or discovery of the stanniferous enamel in the
fifteenth century ; and we find that the earliest glazed wares of
that country, the sgraffiati, the painted, and the mczza maiolka
wares, are covered with this description of vitreous surface.

In the eleventh century churches built in various places were
decorated with discs and "ciotole" of glazed and painted terra-
cotta. The researches of the abbe Cochet at Bouteilles have
shown that glazed pottery was in use in the north of France in
the Anglo-norman period of the thirteenth and fourteenth cen-
turies, or perhaps even in earlier time. Examples of glazed and
painted tiles of the fourteenth century are preserved in the British
museum. As before stated, this glaze is composed of silica
with varying proportions of potash or soda and of oxide of lead,
by which addition it is rendered more easily fusible but remains

To obtain a white surface was, however, desirable, the colour
of the paste beneath the glaze being generally of a dull red
or buff and ill-adapted as a ground for the display of coloured
ornamentation. To supply this want, before the invention of
the tin enamel, an intervening process was adopted. A white
argillaceous earth of the nature of pipeclay was purified and
milled with water, and thus applied over the coarser surface of
the piece in the same manner as the glaze ; again dried, or
slightly fixed by fire, it was ready to receive the translucent
coat through which the white " slip " or " engobe " became


apparent. It is easy to conceive that by scratching a design or
pattern through this white applied surface to the darker clay
beneath, before fixing in the fire, a ready mode of decoration
presented itself without the use of colour, to be covered with
but visible through the glaze ; hence the early incised or
" sgraffiato " ware, one of the primitive modes of decorating
glazed pottery.

Passeri states that pottery works existed from remote periods
in the neighbourhood of Pesaro, as proved by remains of fur-
naces and fragments of Roman time and tiles with the stamp
of Theodoric; that during the dark ages the manufacture was
neglected, but that it revived after 1300, and that it then became
the fashion in that city to adorn the church towers and facades
with discs and " bacini " of coloured and glazed earthenware ;
a practice which had been in use at Pisa and other cities as
early as the eleventh century. The origin of this custom has been
much discussed ; and the reader will find an account of it in
the introduction to the detailed catalogue of Maiolica in the
South Kensington collection. Occasionally, or rather frequently,
circular and square slabs of porphyry and serpentine were used
on the same building, concurrently with the glazed earthenware,
as on the tower of Sta. Maria Maggiore at Rome ; and, indeed,
this mode of enrichment attached to the architecture of the
nth, 1 2th, and 13th centuries is in accordance with that pro-
duced by the enamelled discs and inlaid stones on processional
crosses and church plate of the same period.

The only instance, observed by the writer, of the occurrence of
these " bacini " of glazed ware in domestic architecture is seen
over the windows of the palazzo Fava in Bologna. This style of
decoration ceased entirely during the course of the fourteenth

Passeri instances the use of glaze on tiles upon a tomb in
Bologna, opposite the church of S. Domenico, dated about 1100 ;
and he further states, but wc know not upon what authority, that


it was about the year 1300 that the method of covering the clay
with a " slip " or " engobe " of white earth, or the coarser earth of
Verona, was first adopted. Slightly baked, it was glazed with
" marzacotto " (oxide of lead and glass), applied wet and again
fired ; and this glaze was variously coloured yellow, green, black,
and blue, by iron, copper, manganese, and cobalt. A similar
method of coating the rough and porous baked clay seems to
have been known also at a very early period in the north of
Europe, and to have been in use throughout France, Germany,
and England.


Enamelled or Stanniferous Glazed Wares.

It was found that by the addition of a certain portion of the
oxide of tin to the composition of glass and oxide of lead the
character of the glaze entirely alters. Instead of being translucent
it becomes, on fusion, an opaque and beautifully white enamel,
the intervening process of covering the surface of the clay with
a stratum of white earth before glazing being unnecessary. It,
moreover, was found to afford a better ground for the application
of coloured ornament. The process of application was the same
as for the " slip ; " after immersion in the enamel bath, and sub-

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