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sequent drying, the painting is applied upon the absorbent surface;
the piece being then subjected to the fire which, at one applica-
tion, fixes the colours and liquifies the glaze. This " enamelled "
pottery (emaillee) is by far the more important group of the glazed
wares, being susceptible of decoration by the lustre pigments, as
well as by painting in colours of great delicacy ; and it comprises
the Hispano-moresque, the real Maiolica, and the perfected earthen-
ware of Italy and other countries.

It is true that the first trace of the application of oxide of tin to
produce a white opaque glazed surface is to be met with upon
Babylonian or Assyrian bricks, but we are disposed to think that
it was then merely used as a pigment to produce a white colour,
and not as an application to pottery for the production of a white
opaque glaze capable of receiving coloured enrichment by painting
in other pigments. A corroboration of this opinion would seem
to exist in the fact that throughout Asia Minor, Syria, Persia, and



Egypt, a purely stanniferous glaze on pottery has never been
generally adopted, or taken the place of that simple and beautiful
siliceous coating, so dexterously applied and with such richness of
effect upon the Persian and Damascus earthenware. Engraved
is an example of an early Damascus plate (no. 6590), at South

Kensington. Perhaps isolated and lying dormant in remote
localities for centuries, its use may have been learned by the
Arabs, for its next appearance is upon fragments of tiling appa-
rently of their manufacture or fashioned under their influence.
How the knowledge of this enamel travelled, when and where it
was first used, and to what extent applied, is still doubtful. We
meet with an occasional fragment generally upon mural decora-
tion of uncertain date on various Arab sites, till at length it


becomes palpably appreciable in the Moorish potteries of Spain
and of the Balearic islands. The baron J. Ch. Davillier, in his
excellent work on pottery, states that he has not been able to
discover any piece which could reasonably be ascribed to a date
anterior to the fourteenth century, some two hundred years after
the expulsion of the Saracens from Spain. In Valencia, however,
anterior to its conquest by Jayme I. of Arragon in 1239, potteries
had been long established, and were of such importance that that
monarch felt himself bound to protect the Moorish potters of
Xativa (San Filippo) by a special edict.

We must bear in mind that there were two periods of Mahom-
medan sway in Spain, the first on the expulsion of the Gothic
monarchy by the Arabs and the establishment of the Caliphate
at Cordova, in the eighth century. Of the ceramic productions
of this early period we have no accurate knowledge, but we
should expect to find them of similar character to the siliceous
glazed wares prevalent in the east. The second period is after
an interval of five centuries, in 1235, when the Moors founded
the kingdom of Granada, having driven out the Arabs. Then
first appear the wares usually known as Hispano-moresque,
like the fine vase (engraved) no. 8968, at South Kensington ;
for we find the tiles of the Alhambra dating about 1300, the
Alhambra vase about 1320, and continuous abundant examples
of tin glazed wares of Moorish origin, until the period of the
conquest of the country by Ferdinand and Isabella; after which
the pottery becomes more purely Spanish and speedily de-

Mr. Marryat remarks, in reference to the second or Moorish
period, that the art of the new invaders had the same origin as
the old, but as we have no specimens known to have been of the
earlier or Arabian period we cannot accept this verdict as con-
clusive. Moreover, some confusion has arisen in classing together
the glass glazed or siliceous pottery, with or without metallic
lustre, and the Moresque wares produced in Spain, which are so



distinctly characteristic as being enamelled with the oxide of tin.

We particularly refer to those somewhat rare examples of early
siliceous pottery, like the deep Rhodian plate next engraved, some



enriched with metallic lustre, others without, the designs upon all
of which are eminently Arabian or Saracenic, unreadable mock
Arabic inscriptions occurring (as in the textile fabrics of the same
period) among the ornaments ; as in the thirteenth century vase
in the woodcut, p. 1 7. Such are the tiles of early date from various

places in Persia and Arabia. Similar wares, of which there
are specimens at South Kensington, are supposed, to have been
made by oriental potters in Sicily but it is difficult to say at what
time. That island was conquered, by the Saracens in 827.
Again, there is another variety of pottery of Moresque character
and ornamentation with vermicular pattern in copper lustre on a
seemingly stanniferous glaze, which is ascribed to Moorish potters



who went to Sicily and established works at Calata Girone in the
fourteenth century.

It is not improbable that the existence in Spain of tin ores in

considerable abundance may have accidentally led to the discovery
or to the adoption of the stanniferous enamel, obtained by an
admixture of the oxide of that metal with glass and oxide of lead.
We have no positive proof of its use on pottery at an earlier date
in any other country, since the period of the Babylonian bricks.

1 8 MAW LIC A.

May there not be some truth in the story of the Majorcan dishes
built into the Pisan towers, and that the single specimen of
" Persian " ware found by the writer on the church of Sta. Cecilia
in that city, which in all probability was placed there early in the
twelfth century, may be one of the dishes brought home by the
Pisans, at a time anterior to the use of the tin enamel in Majorca?

There is generally a foundation for fabulous stories, and it is
not unlikely that some few of those trophies were so applied ; the
more so as the taste for such architectural decoration prevailed at
that period. At the same time there can be no doubt that many
of the bacini adorning churches in various parts of Italy, including
Pisa, were of native Italian manufacture, as would seem probable
from their compositions and designs. Engravings of these, and of
the fragment of oriental ware above alluded to, are published in
the Archoeologia, vol. xlii. We are indebted to the council of the
Society of antiquaries for permission (see next page) to use the
latter block.

The earliest traces of the use of stanniferous enamel glaze in
Europe, known to us, is always in connection with a decoration,
produced by the reduction of certain metallic salts in the reverber-
atory furnace, leaving a thin film upon the surface, which gives
that beautiful and rich effect known as reflet metallique, nacre,
cangianie, rubino, reverberate, &c, and in England as lustred ware.
In Italy the use of a metallic lustre was apparently known and
practised previous to the introduction of the tin enamel, for we
have abundant examples of early " mezza-maiolica " from the
potteries of Pesaro or Gubbio, glazed only with the oxide of lead
and glass, and which are brilliantly lustred with the metallic
colours. None of these can, however, be referred to an earlier
date than the latter half of the fifteenth century.

Of whom, then, did the Italian potters learn this art? We have
no answer to the question in any historical record, and we are
forced to infer that the name by which this lustred ware was known
at the time and in the country of its production, reflected that of





fell iBr». :


the place from which it
was derived. Accordingly
we find that the coarser
lead glazed lustred ware
was known as " mezza-
maiolica," while that
more nearly resembling
its original, by the use
of the tin enamel, was
known as " maiolica."
That the Moorish potters
of Maj orca conveyed this
knowledge, and that the
Italians named their ware
after that of the island,
would seem a reasonable
conclusion. M. Jacque-
mart, however, thinks it
equally probable that
although the Majorcan
wares were well known
in Italy, this art may
really have been com-
municated by Persian
potters, or their pupils,
coming to the eastern
ports of Italy ; and that
the style of decoration
on the early Italian
lustred wares is more
Persian than Moresque.
This would also in some
measure explain why the

lustrous colours were used at some potteries anterior to the adop-

c 2



tion of the stanniferous enamel. The woodcut represents a bowl
at South Kensington, no. 503, possibly of this manufacture, and
of great rarity. In date it is somewhat late ; about 1490.

The general term " Maiolica," also spelt " Majolica," has long
been and is still erroneously applied to all varieties of glazed
earthenware of Italian origin. We have seen that it was not so
originally but that the term was restricted to the lustred wares,
which resemble in that respect those of the island from which they
had long been imported into Italy. It is a curious fact, proving
their estimation in that country, that nearly all the specimens of
Hispano-moresque pottery which adorn our cabinets and enrich
our museums have been procured in Italy ; comparatively few
pieces having been found in Spain.

Scaliger states in reference to the Italian pottery as comparable
with the porcelain of China, that the former derived its name from
Majorca, of which the wares are most excellent. Fabio Ferrari
also, in his work upon the origin of the Italian language, states his
belief "that the use of majolica, as well as the name, came from
Majorca, which the ancient Tuscan writers called Maiolica." Thus
Dante writes : — " Tra Y isola di Cipri e Maiolica ; " showing the


then mode of spelling the name of the island, and it would seem
but natural to distinguish an imitation of its produce as " a la

The " mezza-maiolica " was the coarser ware, formed of potter's
earth, covered with a white " slip " upon which the subject was
painted ; then glazed with the common " marza-cotto " or lead
glaze, over which the lustre pigments were applied. The
" maiolica," on the other hand, was the tin enamelled ware
similarly lustred. As before stated, these terms were originally
used with reference only to the lustred wares, but towards the
middle of the sixteenth century they seem to have been generally
applied to the glazed earthenware of Italy. We think with M.
Jacquemart, M. Darcel, Mr. J. C. Robinson, and others, that the
word maiolica should be again restricted to the lustred wares,
although in Italy and elsewhere it is habitually used to designate
all the numerous varieties of glazed earthenware, with the ex-
ception of the more common "terraglia" and in distinction from

The Germans ascribe the discovery of the tin enamel glazing to
a potter of Schelestadt, in Alsace, whose name is unknown but
who died in the year 1283; and in the convent of St. Paul at
Leipzic is a frieze of large glazed tiles, with heads in relief, the
date of which is stated to be 1207. The potters' art is said to
have developed itself in that country at an earlier period than in
Italy; rilievo architectural decorations, monuments with figures in
high relief, and other works of great artistic merit having been
executed in 1230 at Breslau, where there is a monument to
Henry IV. of Silesia who died in 1290, an important work in this
material. Later, at Nuremberg, the elder Veit Hirschvogel was
"born in 1441, and by him the use of the tin glaze was known.
Specimens ascribed to his hand and dating from 1470 are
preserved in museums. At Strehla a pulpit of glazed terra-cotta is
of the date 1565, and at Saltzburg is the wonderful chimney-piece
of the fifteenth century, still in its original position in the Schloss.


At that time, also, Hans Kraut, of Villengen in Swabia, produced
good works, but it is probable that many of these larger examples
are covered with an admirably manipulated green or brown glaze
which is produced without the admixture of tin.

In Italy history has always awarded the honour of its discovery
to Luca della Robbia, whose first great work was executed in
1438 ; and however recent observation may lead to the assumption
that its use was known in the Italian potteries before his time,
there can be no doubt that his was not merely an application of a
well-known process to a new purpose, but that he really did invent
an enamel of peculiar whiteness and excellence, better adapted to
his purpose and of somewhat different composition from that in
use at any of the potteries of his time.


We have already seen that in the twelfth, thirteenth, and
fourteenth centuries native wares were produced in various places,
some of which still exist in the towers and fagades of churches,
and of a palace at Bologna. These are lead glazed, rudely
painted or with single colours, and in some instances "sgraffiato"
proving that the use of a white " slip," or " engobe " was known
in Italy at that period, as affirmed by Passeri, who further asserts
that in 1300 the art assumed a more decorative character, under
the then lords of Pesaro, the Malatestas. Having thus attained
an even opaque white surface the development of its artistic
decoration steadily advanced. The colours used were yellow,
green, blue, and black, to which we may add a dull brownish red,
noticed on some of the Pisan " bacini." Passeri states that the
reflection of the sun's rays from the concave surfaces of these
" bacini " at Pesaro was most brilliant, and hence it has been
wrongly inferred that they were enriched with metallic lustre.
We believe that this effect may arise from iridescence on the
surface of the soft lead glaze, easily decomposed by the action of
the atmosphere in the neighbourhood of the sea.

Pieces exist, of considerable merit, which may be ascribed to
an earlier period than that on which we find the earliest date.
A votive plaque preserved in the museum of the hotel Cluny,
at Paris, has the sacred monogram surrounded by the legend

Jlteolabs • to • tftagnolts • a* * fjonotem * tret * et * Sanett *

J&tdjaelfe * fcct't * fieri * am * 1475. w e have always considered
this plaque as of Faenza, but it would seem that MM. Jacquemart


and Darcel are disposed to ascribe it to Caffaggiolo. The next
example, two years later in sequence of date, is in the possession
of Mr. Cook ; it represents the Virgin seated on a throne in an
architectural framing, and holding the Child ; it has all the charac-
teristics of a Tuscan origin and the glaze appears to be stannife-
rous. We next have the Faenza plate in the Correr museum at
Venice, dated 1482, followed by the plaque ascribed to Forli,
1489, and one of Faenza, 1491. Other pieces, dated i486 and
1487, are in other collections. But we have no record or dated
example of Italian pottery, coated with the stanniferous enamel,
previous to the first important production by Luca della Robbia
in 1438.

M. Jacquemart is of opinion that the use of the tin enamel was
known on pottery in Italy previous to its application to sculpture
by that artist, and in this opinion Mr. Robinson agrees ; yet it
is remarkable that no record of such knowledge has descended to
us. No enamelled product of the early fabriques of Faenza or
Caffaggiolo bears an earlier date, nor of that of Pesaro where
decoration by means of the lustre pigments is believed to have
preceded their application on enamelled wares ; whereas the use
of the tin enamel by Luca on flat painted surfaces is proved by
the tondo on the church of Or San Michele, the lunette over a
door at the Opera del Duomo, and the tiles on the tomb of
Benozzo Federighi, bishop of Fiesole, now in the church of S.
Francesco de Paolo below Bellosguardo, as Florentine evidences ;
and the twelve circular discs, on which are painted allegorical
figures of the twelve months, are also to be referred to at South

Mr. J. C. Robinson, in his catalogue of Italian sculpture, has
given a notice of the life and works of Luca della Robbia and his
family, and a description of the specimens ascribed to them and
possessed by the museum at South Kensington ; the majority of
these rank as works of sculpture, but among the rest are the toudi,
here mentioned, a wood-cut from one of which we introduce. They



are, in fact, circular plaques of enamelled pottery painted Qn the
plain surface with allegorical representations of the months, in all
probability by the hand of Luca della Robbia himself. We

o x uote Mr. Robinson's description of them from page 59 of that
catalogue : —

"Nos. 7632-7643. Luca della Robbia. A series of twelve
circular medallions, in enamelled terra-cotta, painted in chiar'oscuro,
with impersonations of the twelve months. Diameter of each, 1
foot ioiinches. Vasari tells us that 'Luca sought to invent a
method of painting figures and historical representations on flat
surfaces of terra-cotta, which, being executed in vitrified enamels,
would secure them an endless duration ; of this he made an


experiment on a medallion, which is above the tabernacle of the
four saints on the exterior of Or San Michele, on the plane sur-
face of which he delineated the instruments and emblems of the
builder's arts, accompanied with beautiful ornaments. For the
bishop of Fiesole, in the church of San Brancazio, he also made a
marble tomb on which are the recumbent effigy of the bishop and
three other half-length figures besides, and in the pilasters of that
work he painted, on the flat, certain festoons and clusters of fruit
and foliage so skilfully and naturally, that, were they even painted
in oil on panel, they could not be more beautifully or forcibly
rendered.' We have here a record of the fact that Luca, simul-
taneously with his enamelled terra-cotta sculptures, also practised
painting in the same vehicle on the flat, or, in other words, the art
of majolica painting. The monumental works before mentioned
are now extant to attest the truth of this account.

" From a careful and repeated study of the above-named works
on the spot, and likewise from the internal evidence of the
technical qualities of the vehicle, terra-cotta, enamel pigments, &c,
the writer has now to add to the list of Luca's productions, in
this especially interesting branch, the present series of medallions,
doubtless united originally in a grand decorative work. Each
roundel is a massive disc of terra-cotta, of a single piece, evidently
prepared to be built into a wall (or vaulted ceiling) of some edifice.
Round the margin of each is a decorated moulding, in relief, of a
characteristic Delia Robbia type. The surface within the narrow
border is flat or plane, and the designs are painted in two or
three grisaille tints on a blue ground, of the usual quiet sober tint
affected in all the backgrounds and plane surfaces of the relievo
subjects. These consist of single figures of contadini or husband-
men, impersonating the agricultural operations of the Florentine
country, characteristic of each month of the year ; and although
invested with a certain artistic charm of expression, the various
figures, each of which exhibits a different individual character,
may be taken as life portraits of the sturdy Tuscan peasants of

MA 10 LIC A. 27

the day. A band or fascia forming an inner border round each
subject, is ingeniously and fancifully divided into two unequal
halves, one being of a lighter tint than the general ground of the
composition, and the other half darker, thus indicating the night
and the day ; the mean duration of each for every month, being
accurately computed, set off on the band accordingly, and noted
in written characters on the upper or daylight part, whilst the
name of the month is written in large capital letters at the bottom
in white, on the dark ground of the nocturnal portion. The sun
pouring down a cone of yellow rays, accompanied by the sign of
the zodiac proper to each month, is also seen on the left of the
upper part of each margin, and the moon on the lower half
opposite to him." The author gives further proof that these
medallions are the work of Luca della Robbia, believing the
fact to be as certain as anything not absolutely authenticated
can be.

Luca della Robbia was born about the year 1400, and his name
must ever be associated with the discovery or adaptation on a
large scale, and improvement in composition, of stanniferous
enamel. That the nature of this enamel is different from what
was used upon other pottery of the time may be seen by a com-
parison of the two surfaces. The greater degree of opacity and
solidity in the former is a marked variation from that in general
use ; so with the surface of his painted tiles. Perhaps the earlier
productions of the Caffaggiolo furnaces approach the nearest to it.
There is no piece, seemingly, of the production of a Florentine or
Tuscan pottery with a date before 1477, and this example would
appear to be tin-glazed. With that exception, the first pieces sur-
faced with the stanniferous enamel are ascribed to the Caffaggiolo
pottery and are dated 1507 and 1509, some seventy years subse-
quent to its first recorded use by Luca della Robbia ; and we
have no specimens which can with any probability be ascribed to
a period within a quarter of a century of its habitual application
by him. We cannot, therefore, find the slightest evidence to dis-


prove the assertion of Vasari and others that Luca was the dis-
coverer, for Italy, of this important improvement in the glazing of
earthenware vessels. It is not, however, unreasonable to suppose
that its composition may have been communicated to him by one
of the Moorish potters from Spain, and that, acting upon this
communication, he made a series of experiments resulting in the
perfection to which he attained, and which result was guarded as
a family secret by two succeeding generations.

A modification of this composition, perhaps also learnt from
Hispano-moorish potters, became gradually known and adopted
at various fabriques, spreading throughout the potteries of Italy,
France, &c. We are inclined to M. Jacquemart's opinion that it
first came into use at CafTaggiolo, the fabrique established under
the influence of the Medici family, but cannot consent to his
suggestion that Luca learnt there the composition of the enamel.
We agree with Mr. Robinson in giving the precedence, or at any
rate an equality in point of age, to Faenza, and in ascribing to
that place certain figures and groups in alto-rilievo, bearing in-
scriptions in Gothic letters, the modelling and design of which are
more characteristic of the north of the Apennines than of the
Tuscan valley.

Andrea della Robbia, to whom his uncle's mantle descended,
also painted occasionally on plane surfaces, as may be seen on
tiles which cover the flat surface of a " lavabo" in the sacristy of
the church of Sta. Maria Novella, in Florence. We would merely
further note the fact that in 1520 the art was in decadence under
the hand of Giovanni the son of Andrea, Luca's nephew, and that
during the first quarter of that century various imitators produced
inferior works in the same style, copying the models of the Della
Robbia and the works of some other sculptors. By Giovanni's
brother Girolamo it was introduced into France, where the chateau
de Madrid was decorated by him under the patronage of Francis
the first.

In Italy, Agostino di Antonio di Duccio, said to be a pupil of

MA 10 LIC A. 29

Luca, worked at Perugia in 1459-61, where he executed enamelled
bas-reliefs on the facade of the church of S. Bernardino, and in
S. Domenico. Pier Paolo di Agapito da Sassoferrato is said to
have erected an altar in this manner in the church of the Cappu-
cini in Arceria, in the diocese of Sinigaglia, in the year 15 13. He
was also a painter. An able modeller as well as artist potter
Maestro Giorgio Andreoli, of Gubbio, also appears to have exe-
cuted works in the manner of the Delia Robbia. The practice of
enamelling large works modelled in terra-cotta would seem to
have gone out of repute before the end of the first half of the
sixteenth century • not perhaps so much from the secret of the
glaze being known only, as we are told, to the descendants of the
Delia Robbia family, as from the want of demand for -works in

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