speaks of the glass and the golden pottery made at Murcia (city), Almeria and Malaga. From the 4th century the notices which have come down to us divide themselves into two main groups relating to the industry (a) at Malaga; (b) at various localities, but especially Manises in Valencia.
Malaga—Malaga was situated within the Moorish kingdom of Granada, which formed, from 1235 until the late 15th century, the last remnant of Moorish dominion in Spain. Here under the art-loving Nasride dynasty, Mussulman arts and learning flourished to an unprecedented degree. In 1337 Ahmed ben-Yahya al-Omarí enumerates, among the craft productions of Malaga, its golden pottery, the like of which he declares is not to be met with elsewhere. The Moroccan traveller Ibn Batuta mentions (1350) the Malagan golden pottery, as does Ibn al-Hatib (1313–1374) of Granada, in his description of Malaga. The principal monument of the period is the royal palace of Granada, begun in 1273, and finished during the 14th century, from which period most of its ornamentation dates. Two vases were discovered there, of which the existing one, known as the “Alhambra vase,” is admittedly the most imposing product of Hispano-Moresque ceramic art extant. Its amphora-shaped body (4 ft. 5 in. high) is encircled by a band of Arabic inscription, above which are depicted gazelles reserved in cream and golden lustre upon a blue field; the rest of the body and the prominent handles are covered with compartments of arabesques and inscriptions in the same colours; and panels on the neck, divided by mouldings and decorated with strap-work and arabesques. Vases similar in shape and technique, with ornament of Cufic characters and arabesques in horizontal rows, are to be found in the museums at St Petersburg, Palermo and Stockholm. As to the exact date of these, experts are not agreed. Though presenting all the characteristics of the 14th-century Hispano-Moresque ornament, it seems probable that they were produced at the same period as the large lustred wall-tile formerly in the Fortuny (now in the Osma) collection, an inscription upon which is by some held to refer to Yusuf III. of Granada (1409–1418), not to Yusuf I. (1333–1354). Another remarkable example is a dish (Sarre collection, Berlin), which, it is claimed, bears upon its back, in Arabic, the word Malaga; it is ornamented with eight segmental compartments filled alternately with strap-work designs and arabesques in lustre. Malaga was reconquered by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1487, and after this its industry probably decayed, as it is not mentioned by Lucio Marineo in 1539 among the localities where ceramics then flourished.
Valencia.—The emirate of Valencia was reconquered by Aragon in 1238. The history of its lustred ware is known from 1383, when Eximenes (whose evidence has been erroneously held to date from 1499) mentions the golden ware (Obra dorada) of Manises. Valencian pottery of this kind was an offshoot of the Malagan industry, as in documents lately published (ranging from 1405 to 1517) it is repeatedly designated Malaga ware (Obra de Malaga). Its decorative qualities became famous throughout the whole of Europe and North Africa. The ware was chiefly manufactured at Manises by the Moorish retainers of the Buyl or Boil family, lords of Manises, who levied dues upon the output of the kilns, and occasionally arranged for its sale. It is distinguished as regards its ornamentation from the pottery of Malaga by the adoption of a more natural rendering of plant form motives and by the use of armory. The ware consists of drug pots, deep dishes, large and small plates, aquamaniles, vases, &c. Some dozen varieties of ornament were employed during the 15th and early 16th centuries, including mock arabic inscriptions, various flower or foliage patterns taken from the vine, bryony, &c., and gadroons. The centres of dishes frequently bear the arms of a king or queen of Aragon, of the Buyls of Manises, or other Valencian or Italian families for whom they were made. Great dexterity is shown in the execution of minute and complicated schemes of ornament and in the richness of the colour schemes; golden lustre of various hues, with blue and manganese, form the simple combinations, but the ruby, violet or opalescent lustre combine to produce with the colours a wonderful decorative effect. From 1500 the use of blue and manganese was gradually discontinued and the ornament quickly became nondescript, but the brilliancy of the lustre pigment nevertheless obtained a wide popularity for the ware, as is attested by Marineo (1539), Viciana (1564) and Escolano (1610). After the expulsion of the Moriscoes (1609) the industry was carried on by those who had escaped deportation or by Spaniards who had learnt the craft; generally speaking their productions can be summed up in the word “decadence.” In the course of the 15th century the manufacture of lustred pottery was carried on at various other small towns near Valencia; in 1484 it was produced at Mislata, Paterna and Gesarte. It is known to have flourished at Calatayud in 1507, and at Muel, also in Aragon, in 1589. In the Valencia district much pottery for ordinary use, ornamented with blue on white, was also produced.
Majorca.—Scaliger, in 1557, states that Chinese porcelain was imitated in the Balearic Isles, and that the Italians called these imitations “majolica,” changing the letter in the name of the islands (then called Majorica) where they originated. The truth would appear to be that Valencian wares, being exported in Balearic vessels that called at Majorca on the voyage to Italy, acquired a reputed Mallorcan origin. There is extant a potter’s petition praying for permission to establish himself in Majorca (1560), in which he states that “Manises ware,” &c., had to be imported, as it was not made there.
Collections.—In England, the Victoria and Albert and the British Museums have fine collections of this ware. At Paris the Cluny Museum collection, and the Louvre; the museum at Sevres contains many fine typical pieces. Another good collection is that of the archaeological museum at Madrid. The Berlin and the Hamburg museums, the Metropolitan Art Museum at New York and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts also contain good specimens. The private collections of England, France and Italy are rich in these wares, among the finest being those of Mr F. D. Godman (Horsham), and of Don G. J. de Osma (Madrid).
Literature.—A. Van de Put, Hispano-Moresque Ware of the 15th Century (1904); F. Sarre, “Die spanisch-maurischen Lusterfayencen des Mittelalters,” &c. (in Jahrbuch der kgl. preuss. Kunstsammlungen, xxiv. (1903); G. J. de Osma, “Apuntes sobre cerámica morisca: textos y documentos valencianos,” No. 1, 1906, and “Los Letreros ornamentales en la ceramica morisca del siglo xv.” (in the review Cultura Española, No. ii, 1906; J. Font y Gumá, Rajolas valencianas y catalanas (1905); J. Tramoyeres Blasco, “Cerámica valenciana del siglo xvii.” (in the Almanaque, para 1908, del periodico Las Provincias de Valencia; J. Gestoso y Pérez, Historia de los barros vidriados sevillanos (1904); also J. C. Davillier, Histoire des faiences hispano-moresques à reflets metalliques (1861).
Medieval And Later Italian Pottery
Little is known of the potter’s art in Italy after the fall of the Roman empire till the 13th century. The traditions of the Roman potters appear to have been gradually lost, leaving behind only sufficient skill to make rude crocks for domestic use and to coat them, if required, with a crude yellowish lead glaze sometimes stained to a vivid green with copper oxide. Applied ornament of roughly modelled clay and scratched designs were the chief embellishments of such wares, which were of the same class as the medieval pottery of Great Britain and the north of Europe. In the 12th and 13th centuries, however, contact with Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt and Spain, where ceramic skill had been highly developed in fresh directions, as we have seen, introduced into Italy as well as the rest of Europe those superior wares characterized by a white surface decorated with bright colours under a brilliant transparent glaze, and glorified by metallic lustres. The Italian potters did not long remain unaffected by these influences, but though Persian, Syrian and Egyptian pottery must have been fairly plentiful in the households of the wealthy, it was the distinctively Hispano-Moresque wares from which the potters of Italy drew the inspiration for a new ware of their own. The technique of a siliceous slip-coating with colour painted on that and covered with a transparent alkaline glaze, was only sparingly used, and then not very successfully; it is only the introduction of the tin-enamel that was turned to fruitful account and led to the production of the magnificent Italian majolica of the 15th and 16th centuries.
- See examples in colour, Plate VI.