C. Drury E. (Charles Drury Edward) Fortnum.

Maiolica online

. (page 6 of 12)
Online LibraryC. Drury E. (Charles Drury Edward) FortnumMaiolica → online text (page 6 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

dates or names of manufactories. Labarte and others considered
the copper-lustred pieces to be the earlier, but Mr. Robinson, with
his usual acuteness, saw in the ornamentation of various examples
reasons for reversing this arrangement, and suggested one which
subsequent observation has only tended to confirm. He placed
those pieces having a decoration in a paler lustre with interlacings
and other ornaments in manganese and blue, coats of arms, &c,
in the earlier period ; those having the ornament in the paler
lustre only, without colour, of nearly equal date, as also some of
the darker coppery examples with shields of arms ; and of a later
period those so glaring in copper-coloured lustre as to be more
painful than pleasing to the eye.

M. Davillier (to whose researches into the history of these wares
we are greatly indebted) considers that in all probability Malaga
was the earliest site of the manufacture, and argues that its mari-
time situation and trade with the east and its proximity to Gra-
nada would warrant that opinion, which is strengthened by the
earliest documentary evidence yet brought to light. One Ibn-
Batoutah a native of Tangier, writing in 1350 after journeying
through the east, states that " at Malaga, the beautiful gilt pottery
or porcelain is made, which is exported to the most distant coun-


tries." He makes no mention of a fabrique at Granada in describ-
ing that city, and we may therefore reasonably conclude that
Malaga was the centre of this industry in the Moorish kingdom,
and if so there is great probability that the celebrated Alhambra
vase was made there. From the style of its ornamentation, the
form of the characters in the inscriptions, and other inferences, the
date of this piece may be fairly assigned to the middle of the 14th
century, which would be about the same period as that traveller's
visit to the city. It has nevertheless been ascribed by others to
an earlier time, about 1320. This vase is so generally and well
known that we need only allude to its characteristic form and
richly decorated surface. It is said to have been found in the
1 6th century under the pavement of the Alhambra together with
several others, all of which were filled with gold ; a tradition which
may, perhaps, have some foundation in fact.

The Alhambra vase was copied at Sevres in 1842, and since by
the Messrs. Deck in faience, of the original size after a cast and
photographs procured by M. Davillier. This last is now in the
South Kensington museum.

The fabrique of Malaga existed in the sixteenth century ; and
the plateau engraved p. 78 was probably made there. We learn from
Lucio Marineo writing of the memorable things of Spain in 15 17,
that "at Malaga are made also very beautiful vases of faience."
After this date no further record is found, and M. Davillier thinks
it probable that the works gradually declined as those of Valencia
increased in importance, and that by the middle of the sixteenth
century they had entirely ceased. He attributes to these potteries
three large deep basins and two vases in the hotel Cluny at Paris,
which are covered with designs in golden 7-cflct and blue of great
similarity to those of the Alhambra vase, and also the fine vase
from the Soulages collection at South Kensington.

After the fabrique of Malaga that of Majorca is thought to
be the most ancient, and the extension of its manufactures by
commerce is indirectly proved by the adoption of the term



"Majolica" by the potters of Italy for such of their wares as were
decorated with the metallic lustre. Scaliger, writing in the first
half of the sixteenth century, speaks highly of the wares of the

Balearic islands : but not being an " expert " in ceramic produc-
tions, after praising the porcelain recently brought from China,
admires what he calls their imitations made at Majorca. "We
call them (he says) ' majolica' changing one letter in the name of
the island where we are assured that the most beautiful are


made:" an interesting testimony to the importation of these wares
into Italy and the knowledge of their origin, as also to the de-
rivation of the term applied to the home manufacture of Pesaro
and Gubbio.

Although presumably of much earlier date no record of this
pottery occurs till that of Giovanni di Bemardi da Uzzano, the
son of a rich Pisan merchant, who in 1442 wrote a treaty on
commerce and navigation, published by Paquini, in which he
speaks of the manufactures of Majorca and Minorca, particularly
mentioning faience which "had then a very large sale in Italy."
We have evidence that the principal seat of the manufacture was
at Ynca, in the interior of the island ; and in confirmation of this
discovery some plates have been observed by M. Davillier in col-
lections on which the arms of that island are represented. One
is in the hotel Cluny, and is probably of the fifteenth century. It
is Moresque in style with illegible inscriptions in an odd mixture
of the Arabic and Gothic characters ; the lustre of a red colour
and the arms in the centre. These arms are, paly gules and or,
on a fess argent a dog in the act of bounding, sable.

There would seem also to have been a fabrique at Iviga for
Vargas, in his description of the Balearic islands, says, " It is
much to be regretted that Ivica has ceased to make her famous
vases of faience, destined for exportation as well as for local con-
sumption." But of their precise nature he gives us no informa-
tion and we have no knowledge.

The kingdom of Valencia in the time of the Romans was
noted for its works in pottery ; those produced at Saguntum, the
present Murviedro, having a great reputation at that period ac-
cording to Pliny, who mentions the jasper red pottery of Sagun-
tum where 1,200 workmen were employed.

To these, after the occupation of the Goths, succeeded the Arab
workmen who accompanied the Mussulman conquest in 711.
Again, when the Moors were in 1239 subjected to Christian do-
mination the potters' art was considered of sufficient importance


to claim a special charter from the king, who granted it to the
Saracens of Xativa, a small town now called San-Felipe. This
charter provides that every master potter making vases, domestic
vessels, tiles, "rajolas" (an Arabic name for wall-tiles, synony-
mous with " azulejos "), should pay a " besant " annually and
freely pursue his calling.

Sir Wm. Drake in his notes on Venetian ceramics cites an
ordinance of the Venetian senate in 1455, declaring that no
earthenware works of any kind should be introduced into the
dominions of the Signory except crucibles (" correzzoli") and
Majolica of Valencia ; an important fact proving the value that was
attached to the Spanish lustre wares in Italy in the middle of the
fifteenth century. The woodcut p. 81 represents a fine plateau at
South Kensington, golden lustred ; of about the year 1500.

Marineo Siculo, writing in 15 17, devotes a chapter to the
utensils and other objects of faience made in Spain, in which he
states that " the most esteemed are those of Valencia, which are
so well worked and so well gilded • " and Capmany records a de-
cree of the municipal council of Barcelona in 1528 relative to
the exportation of faience to Sicily and elsewhere, in which " la
loza de Valencia " is named. Again Barreyros a Portuguese, in
his " Chorographia," praising the pottery of Barcelona says that
it is "even superior" to that of Valencia. The expulsion of the
Moors in 16 10 by Philip III. gave the fatal blow to this industry,
as we learn from contemporary authors that many of the banished
artizans were potters ("olleros").

From time immemorial St. John the evangelist has been par-
ticularly venerated at Valencia, and in the grand processions of
Corpus Christi the emblematic eagle is carried, holding in his
beak a banderole on which is inscribed the first sentence of his
gospel : "In principio erat Verbum et Verbum erat apud Deum"
On some pieces of Hispano-moresque ware this sentence is in-
scribed, and the eagle sometimes covers the front, sometimes the
back. There is therefore reason to infer that these were made in



one of the fabriques of Valencia, and if so their style would be
to a considerable extent typical of the Valencian pottery. The
decoration was probably inspired by the wares of Malaga, and it

is likely that many of the pieces ot the fifteenth century, bearing
inscriptions in Gothic characters with animals, &x. in blue, may
be of this fabrique.

In the British museum is a plate painted with an antelope and
Moresque ornament in blue, and with the inscription " jjmta
(Eatalma (Kuat&a i&O0 : " others occur, though very rarely, with



Spanish inscriptions. At the commencement of the 17th century
the Valencian wares had lost nearly all their Moresque character,
and the employment of the copper lustre only was retained :

the designs having figures in the costumes of that period and
coarse leafage or birds with " rococo " ornaments.

It would thus appear that the fabrique of Malaga was the most
ancient, and that of Valencia the most important in Spain ; but
other potteries existed, and their productions were widely dis-
tributed. The woodcut represents a Valencian dish with golden



lustre, of the 15 th century. That these wares were imported into
England is proved by fragments found in London, on one of
which, in the British museum, is represented a man in the
costume of the period of Henry the fourth, about 1400.



■' M ' .==



I %

=-= ~

'J ii


£ /



Makers' names have never been observed upon pieces of this
pottery, and marks are very rarely met with. The above marks

G 2

8 4


are on the back of two small plates with deep centres, in which is
painted a shield of arms bearing a crowned eagle with open wings
in blue, the rest of the surface being diapered with small vine or
briony leaves and interlaced tendrils in concentric order, of golden
lustre on the creamy white ground.

These pieces are perhaps of the same service, probably of
Malaga or Valencia, and may be of the earlier half of the 15th
century ; they are in the writer's possession. In Mr. Henderson's
rich collection is a vase on one side of which is the inscription,
of which we give a facsimile :

It reads " Illustrissimo Signore Cardinale D'Este in Urbe

Specimens of a lustred ware have been brought from Sicily,
differing materially from that of Spain, and perhaps forming a
connecting link between that and the earlier Persian pottery.
They are formed of an ordinary clay covered with an earthy or
stanniferous (?) wash, which is again coated with a rich trans-


lucent blue glaze on which a diapering of vermicular ornament in
coppery lustre covers the whole piece, except that the edges and
handles are also painted in lustre. This ware is by no means
common; it occurs in the form of plates, covered bowls, and
" albarelli ;" and is supposed to be the workmanship of Moorish
potters at Calata-Girone.


Italian Pottery ; Sgraffiati, and Caffaggiolo.

Coming now to Italian pottery, we must speak first of sgraffiati,
graffiti, or incised wares. This mode of ornamentation is one of
the most primitive and universal in a ruder form, although it
appears but little on the early glazed wares of our own country ;
of those of France a fine example, attributed to the 14th century,
is preserved at Sevres. In Italy, as was the case in all other
varieties of pictorial art, it was brought to a high degree of perfec-
tion, not merely as a manner of ornamenting pottery but applied
on a large scale to mural decoration. It appears to have been in
use from an early period, examples of a coarse kind occurring
among the plates incrusted in the towers of churches of the 12th
and 13th centuries at Pisa and elsewhere, and it was probably in
use before or coeval with the earliest painted wares.

Its method as applied to pottery is described by Piccolpasso
in his manuscript, and consists in covering the previously baked
" biscuit " of ordinary potter's clay with a " slip " or " engobe" of
the white marl of Vicenza, by dipping it into a bath of that earth
milled with water to the consistence of cream; \vhen dry, this
white covering, fixed by a slight baking, is scratched through with
an iron instrument shewing the design in the red colour of the
clay against the superimposed white ground. It is then covered
with an ordinary translucent lead glaze, and clouded with yellow
and green by slight application of the oxides of iron and copper.

There appears to be a considerable range in the dates of various
specimens in collections, some of which are probably among the



earliest examples of Italian decorative pottery that have come
down to us ; others may be of the middle or last quarter of the
15th century and, like the fine example which we engrave, are

highly characteristic ; great skill is shown upon them in the com
bination of figures and foliage in relievo with the incised orna-
mentation. Nearly all the pieces of this class are probably the
work of one botega, and are distinguished by the character of
their designs ; a border of mulberry leaves is very general, or
shields of the " pavoise " or kite form. Judging also from the sort
of florid Gothic character to be seen in some of the leafage mould
ings, from the costumes of the north of Italy in the 15th century,
and from the lion supporters and other details which connect them
with north Italian art, we have little hesitation in believing that
they were produced in Lombardy or the Venetian mainland.

Of the more important examples, the Louvre possesses a fine
cup on a raised stem and supported by three lions ; in the interior,
a man habited in the costume of the 15th century stands playing


a mandolin between two females, one of whom sings while the
other plays the tambourine ; the raised and incised mouldings on
this piece are very characteristic. In the British museum are some
fine dishes, one of which is remarkable for the admirable execution
of the work, on which are represented figures in the costume of
the 15th century, festoons of fruit and other ornaments. On
another are the figures of a gentleman and a lady who plays the
viol, in the costume of the 15th or early 16th century standing
"dos a dos /" on her side is a " pavoise " shield bearing the
" biscia " or serpent of the Visconti, while the man supports him-
self on one bearing the flaming bomb-shell, the impresa of Alfonso
d'Este, borne by him at the battle of Ravenna in 15 12.

In the writer's collection are two early dishes, one of which is
remarkable for a raised flower in the centre and incised decoration
on front and back. He also possesses a large dish, 19J inches in
diameter, having a medallion central subject of the Virgin and
Child : the rest of the piece being covered with interlacing
branches of what may be mulberry bearing leaves and fruit, a
serpentine wreath of the same encircling the border.

It is probable that were the archives of Florence thoroughly
searched some record might be found of the establishment or
existence at Caffaggiolo of an artistic pottery encouraged and
patronized by the Medici family, but at present we have no such
recorded history. Here again the objects themselves have been
their best and only historians. It was but a few years since that
the ill indited name of this botega, noticed upon the back of a
plate, was read as that of the artist who had painted it ; but the
discovery of other more legible signatures proved that at this
spot important and highly artistic works had been produced. The
occurrence of a monogram upon several, with the comparison of
their technical details, has led to the recognition of many pieces,
and revealed the fact that this fabrique had existed from an early
period, and was productive of a large number of pieces of varying


M. Jacquemart surmises that at Caffaggiolo Luca della Robbia
learnt the nature of the enamel glaze, which he applied to his
relievos in terra cotta. We know that Luca painted subjects on
plain surfaces, enamelled with the stanniferous glaze as early as
the year 1456, when he executed the painted tiles which form a
kind of framing to the tomb of Benozzo Federighi in the church
of San Francesco de Paolo, under the hill of Bellosguardo. The
most important work by him of this nature is the lunette over one
of the doors in the entrance-hall of the " Opera del Duomo " in
Florence. Whether, learnt from him, this enamel was adopted at
the Grand Ducal fabrique at an early period, or whether he there
obtained the knowledge which he applied and modified to his own
uses, remains a question, the answer to which would be facilitated
by the proved date of the establishment of that pottery, or the
occurrence of pieces anterior to the tiles enamelled and painted
by Luca; but upon these points we unfortunately have not as. yet
discovered any recorded memorial.

It is worthy of remark that although many are of very early
date no piece of a Mezza ware, confidently assignable to this
establishment, is known to the writer ; all that have come under
his notice are enamelled with the white stanniferous glaze, no
instance of the use of an engobe or slip having been observed.
The woodcut p. 90 is from an early and probably Tuscan plateau.

The leading characteristics of the Caffaggiolo wares are a
glaze of rich and even quality, and purely white ; and the use of
a very dark cobalt blue of great intensity but brilliant as that of
lapis lazuli, frequently in masses as a grounding to the subject :
and it would seem laid on purposely with a coarse brush, the
strokes of which are very apparent. We give an engraving p. 91 of
a curiously decorated tazza of early date. The colours are green,
purple and blue. A bright yellow, an orange of brilliant but
opaque quality, a peculiarly liquid and semi-transparent copper
green are also found, and another characteristic pigment is an
opaque bright Indian red. This pottery has a nearer affinity to



that of Siena than to any other fabrique, and it is not unreasonable
to suppose that they had a like origin or that the establishment
at Siena emanated from Caffaggiolo. Both resemble in general
style the pieces produced at Faenza and Forli more than those of

other fabriques of the northern duchies, or of the Umbrian centres
of the art ; and it becomes a question as to which can claim the
earliest origin, as also the earliest use of the stanniferous enamel
glaze. The dates inscribed upon pieces begin in 1507-9, but
undated examples, assignable to this locality and of an earlier
period, exist in collections.

The use of the metallic lustre seems to have been tried at



Caffaggiolo, but from the extreme rarity of examples bearing
the mark of or fairly ascribable to that establishment, we may

perhaps infer that only a few experimental pieces were made, and
that this method of enrichment was but little used. A small

plateau at South Kensington, no. 7154, represented in the wood-
cut is an important example, having the mark. As might be


expected, the arms, emblems, and mottoes of the Medici family
frequently occur, and occasionally the letters S. P. Q. F. are
introduced on labels for " Senatus ftofiulusque Florentinus."
M. Jacquemart considers that some of the early groups, &c. in
relievo and in the round and early plaques with the sacred
emblem, the majority of which are generally ascribed to Faenza,
may be of this botega. We quite concur with him in this opinion.

The South Kensington museum is rich in fine specimens of
this ware of various date and great variety, some of which are
among the most admirable examples of the potter's art. It is
remarkable that we have no recorded names of the artists who
painted these beautiful pieces, and it is only at the latter end
of the sixteenth century that we find mention of Giacomo and
Loys Ridolfi of CarTaggiolo, who emigrated with other potters
from the then less encouraged manufactories of Italy to try
their fortune in France. M. Jacquemart tells us that these
potters or painters founded a " ' faicncerie'''' in 1590 at March e-
coul, in Bretagne.

Some confusion has arisen among connoisseurs in France and
elsewhere as to the wares of CarTaggiolo and those of Faenza, and
indeed it is frequently difficult to draw the line of distinction ; but
we can hardly follow M. Jacquemart in his historical classification,
believing that some of the pieces assigned by him to this fabrique
do not really support their claim. A similar remark may apply to
many of those in the Louvre ascribed to this pottery by Mons.

Two large and finely painted early dishes (presented by Mr.
Franks) are in the British museum; they were probably made
about 1480-1500. On one is a group of saints, after an engraving
by Benedetto Montana, on red ground, with a border of leafage
moulding and peacock's feather ornament. On the other is the
subject of the Judgment of Solomon. The colours on these
pieces are very rich, with much of the characteristic red pigment ;
the bold and firm drawing has an archaic tendency which points



to an early period. The earliest dated piece having a mark and
with reason believed to be of this fabrique, is a plate in the style

of Faenza with border of grotesques and central shields of arms,
in the painting of which the characteristic red is used and


on which is the date 1507 with the mark; that curious combina-
tion of letters P.L and O. Another is dated 1509. The letters
S. P. Q. F. occur among the ornaments. M. Jacquemart con-
siders as of the first period, those pieces having letters allusive to
the Florentine republic, or the Medici arms and emblems ; or the
motto of Giuliano di Medici. " Glovis " also occurs, which has
been ingeniously deciphered as meaning " Si volg," " it (fortune)
turns," if read backwards : referring to the favour shown to
Giuliano when appointed Gonfalonier to the Church. A noble
pitcher at South Kensington no. 17 15 (p. 93) has the Medici arms ;
and, beneath, also the motto Glovis. A large carelessly painted
dish, in the British museum, the subject Abel's sacrifice, has the
word " GLOVIS " and the letters S. P. Q. R. on the altar, and on
the reverse the name, curiously spelt, " In Chafaggilolo " between
the ordinary mark twice repeated. The name seems to have
been spelt in various ways, as " Caffagiulo," " Cafagiol," " CafTag-
giolo," " Chaffaggiolo," " Chafaggilolo," " Gafagizotto," &c.

Some of the specimens at South Kensington are of extraordi-
nary beauty. Of the more interesting may be instanced no. 7154,
lustred, having the CafTaggiolo mark painted on the reverse in
the yellow pigment. The large circular dish no. 8928 on which
is represented a procession of Leo X. is curious as a contempo-
rary work and for the costume. The St. George after the statue
by Donatello, no. 1726, is of great excellence, as is the interest-
ing plate engraved above, p. 44, on which a ceramic painter is
represented at work in the presence of a gentleman and lady,
probably portraits of personages of high standing, as also of the
painter himself. It is to be regretted that he refrained from re-
cording their names and was content with affixing only the mono-
gram of the fabrique at the back of the piece. The beautiful
plate with central subject of Vulcan forging a wing and elegant
border of grotesques, masks, cupids, &c, no. 2990, is probably
by the same hand as the two last referred to and is a fine
example. The large jug already referred to having the Medici



arms on the front and other devices of that family, no. 1 715, is
remarkable for its excellence of glaze and colour, as well as for

its historical associations. So, again, is the vase no. $21 made for
the Medici at a somewhat later date ; and which we also engrave.


Siena and Pesaro.

Well-nigh all the history we have of the early artistic pottery
of Siena may be read upon the specimens of her produce, pre-
served in our museums and private collections. A considerable
number of pieces, evidently the work of one able hand, has been
variously assigned to the furnaces of Faenza, of Caffaggiolo, and

1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryC. Drury E. (Charles Drury Edward) FortnumMaiolica → online text (page 6 of 12)