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Chapter 12 - Graphic Design in Ceramics

This early Iranian made beaker created in Susa (modern Shush in Iran) which is now in Louvre Museum of Paris, depicts a bold, minimalist and stylized graphic design. On the rim of the beaker long necked cranes are drawn, and beneath them there are racing hounds that are simplified into some horizontal streaks. The design of an ibex (a mountain goat) with few sweeping curves constitutes the main motif of this ancient design. (5000 BC)

Painted pottery urn (gang), Yangshao Culture (c. 3500-3000 B.C.) The National Museum of Chinese History, Beijing

A History of Ceramics
After cave paintings, pottery is one of the most ancient manifestations of graphic design. From the ancient times, artists from around the world have used pottery to communicate various aesthetic, cultural, religious, ethical, and socio-political communications. In fact, pot debris discovered at archaeological sites have provided historians and social scientists with a plethora of recorded facts on the people, cultures, economic and trade relationships, systems of beliefs and so on. . The earliest finds of clay pots in Mede, Assyria, Summer, Persia, Egypt and Cartage date from Neolithic times, around the 8th millennium BC.

Dahecun, Yangshao Culture painted pottery. Henan Provincial Museum

The Yangshao culture (仰韶文化) was a Neolithic culture that existed extensively along the central Yellow River in China. The Yangshao people lived in round or rectangular houses in the mountainous regions that were below ground level and surrounded by little walls of earth. They cultivated millet extensively; some villages also cultivated wheat or rice . The Yangshao people are known for their unglazed yellow and red-colored pottery, so the Yangshao Culture, also referred to as the "Painted Pottery" Culture.

A white pottery vessel of the Longshan culture, Weifang, Shandong Province
Longshan culture (龙山文化) was a late Neolithic culture centered around the central and lower Yellow River in China. The Longshan people lived on the plains of eastern China . Their villages were similar to those of the Yangshao, but evidence of stamped earth fortresses is found in some sites. The distinctive feature of Longshan culture was the high level of skill in pottery making , including the use of pottery wheels. Longshan pottery was noted for its highly polished black pottery . Just because of its distinguished pottery, Longshan culture has been called the "Black Pottery" Culture. Their domesticated animals were the pig, dog, sheep, and ox.

Neolithic period Longshan culture white pottery "Gui"
The term Neolithic (新石器时代) is applied in China to the last period of a long prehistory. It began in 5000 B.C. and lasted about 3000 years. It is defined by a large number of settled agricultural communities who were skilled in hunting and gathering as well. The largest concentration of agriculture stood below the southern bend of the Yellow River and the main crop was millet.

Painted pottery pot with frog motifs. Majiayao Culture Neolithic era, 2200-2000 B.C.

The frog is commonly worshiped by early Yellow River residents. The motif was passed down to classical Chinese culture as well. Majiayao culture is a group of Neolithic communities who lived primarily in the upper Yellow River region in Gansu and Qinghai, China. The culture existed from 3100 BC to 2700 BC.

Ma-Jia-Yao Storage Vessel (3100-2700 B.C.)
Ma-Jia-Yao was an ancient neolithic Chinese culture of the upper Yellow River region in modern Gansu and Qinghai. Ma-Jia-Yao style usually uses black linear designs that are curving rather than geometric. This earthenware storage vessel has a painted design on a burnished surface. The jar has different handles, one ornamented and one plain.

Storage Jar, China, 4th century B.C.
This elegant storage jar made in vague imitation of contemporary bronze vessels was created by building up coiled strips of clay which were finished on a slow-turning potter's wheel. Set on opposite sides of the shoulder are two mold-impressed plaques centered under the loose ring handles. The main decoration consists of two continuous registers of neatly incised vertical fluting. The finely worked precise detailing lends a sense of formal majesty to this exceptional example of early celadon ware. High-fired stoneware with shapes, decorations, and glazes similar to this vessel have been excavated from Warring States (475-221 b.c.) tombs in Kuei-hsi, Kiangsi, and Shao-hsing Chekiang provinces in southeastern China.

Painted pottery jar from the Machang type of Majiayao culture, 2200-2000 B.C. On display at the Shanghai Museum.

The Egyptian artists of predynastic period (5000 -3000 BC) used pottery to express their creativity. The graphic design on this period piece with the repeating shapes of ostriches produces a dynamic rhythm that is complemented by the image of boats, and geometrical decoration on the rim.

Two-handled pottery storage jar from the Tomb of Kha

The body is painted with rishi (feather) decoration, the linen-covered neck with religious symbols: a white nefer-sign, a black neb-sign and a black and white painted wedjat-eye. It can be read as “ all good and healthy things “. ( Turin Museum )

Egyptian Faience Lotiform Cup, c.945–715 BC, 22nd Dynasty ( The Met )

 This cup, made of brilliantly glazed Egyptian faience, imitates the slender form of the flower and is decorated in relief with scenes depicting the plant’s marshy habitat. Such cups were funerary offerings made to be placed in tombs.

An Egyptian long-necked vases that were employed to aid against evaporation. From the Tomb of Kha, Deir el-Medina, Dynasty XVIII. ( Turin Egyptian Museum )

Water bottle from Tutankhamen’s embalming cache ( Met NY )

During the Neolithic revolution, nomadic hunters and gatherers in these lands learned how to cultivate, and were settling down as farmers. They began to produce large clay pots for watering their crops. The prehistoric pots were made by stacking of coils of puttied clay, which were then evened out and fired in a primitive kiln made by digging an underground chamber, beneath a bonfire. Between the 5th and the 3rd. millennium B.C., ancient Egyptians began to decorate their vessels with artistic images, and geometrical designs.

Panathenaic amphora, ca. 530 b.c.; Archaic Attributed to the Euphiletos Painter Greek, Attic

This Panathenaic amphora would have been filled with oil from the sacred olive groves in Attica, and would have been awarded as a prize to some worthy victor in one of the Panathenaic games held in Athens every four years. With its typically fat body and small neck and foot, the prize vase is, perhaps, the best example of a vase shape made to serve an official function. Each Panathenaic amphora was made according to a standardized shape and capacity of one metretes (approximately 42 quarts), and was decorated in black-figure technique. The principle decoration is always in the panels of the body of the amphora, with an armed Athena typically on the front and an illustration of the featured competition on the back.

The geometric style is a style of Greek art that developed towards the end of the Dark Age, roughly between 900 BC and 700 BC. It developed in Athens and spread through the sea trade routes in various cities of the Aegean area. Evidence of this decorative style of art-have survived and are mostly represented by decorations on ceramic vessels and ceramic objects. It is thought that the jars were originally dedicated to women, since their task was to collect water, while the kraters were dedicated to the men who poured the wine .

Diomedes and Polyxena. Etruscan amphora of the Pontic group, ca. 540–530 BC.
From Vulci. Lourve E703.

Painted beak jug with birds and fish (1450-1400 BC) from Katsambas exhibited in Heraklion, Crete, Greece Archaeological Museum

Terracotta chariot krater, Helladic, Mycenaean, ca. 1375–1350 B.C., Met

During the fourteenth century B.C. broad and deep-bodied kraters, often decorated with complex pictorial scenes, were produced in Greece, particularly in the Argolid and in Cyprus. A great number of these works came to light on Cyprus, and they were often attributed to artists working in a Cypro-Mycenaean idiom. Evidence had increasingly indicated that trade between the Argolid and Cyprus was active and that the pictorial vases were a major commodity made on the mainland and traded eastward, probably for their contents as well as the ware itself. Scientific tests have corroborated these findings. Recent analyses have shown that this chariot krater came from a well-attested workshop in the vicinity of Mycenae and Berbati. The chariot was an important motif in art from the Greek mainland; its frequency on Mycenaean pictorial vases has characterized an entire subgroup. These vases were probably connected with funerary practices, and, in some regions, they may have served as sarcophagi. The occupants of the chariots may be the deceased, while the ancillary figures may be deities or participants in funerary observances.

Mycenaean fish and octopus pitcher

The painting on this Greek (red-figure) of an Attic bilingual amphora, 520–510 BC, from Vulci, by Andokides, shows Heracles and Athena. Athena instructed Heracles how to remove the skin from the Nemean Lion, by using the lion's own claws to cut through its thick hide. The lion's hide became Heracles' signature garment, along with the olive-wood club he used in the battle.

Chesm-I Ali, Iran, c.4500 BC. A small red buff Iranian bowl with black linear additions in paint. A fine example of the early minimalist graphic design.

A breathtakingly beautiful design from Kerman, Iran c.2500 BC. A small deep bowl with a white slip and black geometric designs painted on the inside and outside. In the center is a large stylized symbol of sun with plant patterns around it.

With the invention of the potter’s wheel in Mesopotamia, between the 6th and 4th millennium BC, demand for the utilitarian wares such as storage jars for oil, water, wine, and grain, as well as bowls, cups, and mugs were so high that potters needed to increase production. But the production technology was cumbersome and the fact that the potter wasted too much time, because had to walk around the putty to give shape to the ware, led to the invention of slow “wheel”. This was a large, heavy stone, which was placed on a pivot and then spun by means of ‘kicking’, or pushing with the feet while in a sitting position. As the stone was building up momentum, the artist hands were shaping, or ‘throwing’ the pot on top of it.

Tepe Sialk, c.4400 - 4200 BC. A nicely painted bowl with crème slip and brown linear designs of a row of ibexes and water symbols.

Around the 3rd. millennium B.C., the beginning of the Bronze Age, potters developed the high-speed spinning wheel, which increased their productivity. At Gansu, in northwestern China, vessels from the Pan-shan culture, made from finely textured clay and fired to buff or reddish-brown, were brush painted with mineral pigments in designs of strong S-shaped lines converging on circles. They date from 2600 BC. Lung-shan pottery, from the central plains, was wheel made. "Celadon", qingci in Chinese青瓷 which is high-fired green wares and is characterized by its simple but refined design and jade-like glaze. Celadon was produced systematically in Zhejiang during the Eastern Han dynasty but appeared as far back as the Shang dynasty. Its production spread to Jiangsu, Hubei, Hunan, and Jiangxi in the 3rd and 4th centuries; where the wares of superior quality were fired at 1300'.

However, it was the invention of porcelain, from white kaolin clay combined with ground granite, during the Han Dynasty in China around 600 A.D., that gave a strong impetus to the concept of aesthetic design. These fragile and sophisticated pieces of fine china were costly to produce and to export since they required to be fired at tremendously high temperatures, and difficult to transport due to their fragility. To compete with high cost porcelain, Western Asian countries discovered lead glazes that added color and shine to earthenware.
The artists in Persia and Greece adopted this technology and revolutionized the art of graphic design. Persian designs were based on minimalist stylization of various animals, and geometric patterns in black outline. Greeks depicted mythological scenes on their amphora (a tall, two-handled pitcher for storing wine, corn, oil, or honey); hydria (a three-handled water jug); and other vessels. Artists utilized the oxidizing process and reducing kilns to produce a shiny black slip on a cream, brownish, or orange-buff body, depending on the type of clay. The designs were harmonious and very well integrated with the shape of vessels.

Reveling Satyrs, Attic psykter (wine cooler) in the red-figure style, signed by Douris, c. 480 BC; in the British Museum, London. Courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum

The red-figure style in pottery was appeared around 530 B.C. This was an inversion of the image in which, the backdrop was painted black, where the outline of the image in negative was delineated by the terracotta color of the earthenware shell. Artists completed the image by elaborating the details of drawing in various shades of black, red, white and sometimes gold paint.

Persian Plate with king hunting rams, late 5th–early 6th century; Sasanian period

Iran - Transoxiana, Nishapur or Samarqand - 10th century.

The ninth and tenth centuries in eastern Iran and nearby Central Asia gave birth to a remarkable series of pottery decorative types involving fundamental innovations and extraordinarily high development in the technique of underglaze slip painting. This example presents the combination of features typical of the finer black-on-white wares: exquisite design, fine calligraphy, pure white engobe (a liquid clay slips of varying compositions which are applied to the surface of a clay to give color or to improve the surface texture of apiece ), and colorless glaze, all adding up to a striking effect. The inscription admonishes: "Whoever talks a lot, slips a lot.", The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Nishapur earthenware bowl, Iran - 10 th century.
The design on this reddish clay covered in white slip is composed by alternating lines of calligraphy and stylized leaves separated by roundels on stems. The color scheme in manganese, olive and reddish brown on the creamy background complements the elegant composition.

The design of this bowl,from Nishapur, Iran (10th century) depicts a stylized goose. The design achieves its aesthetic harmony by an imaginative distortion of the scales, which gives the composition a monumental quality. The bowl is a red earthenware covered in white slip and painted in olive, red and black .

During the Seljuk dynasty of Iran, that ruled over Iraq, Asia Minor, and Syria during the 12th to13th centuries, the Iranian potters in the cities of Rayy and Kāshān developed whiteware pottery. These prosperous cities during this time were located on the trade routes of Asia, and thereby were exposed to various stylish trends and technological improvements in different countries. The potters of these cities adopted the recently developed white body in Egypt, made of Kaolin based mixtures, and combined them with the forming and firing processes to create very fine whiteware, which was decorated with bold carving, occasional piercing, and translucent glaze. Most of these wares have been excavated at Rāy a city near Teheran.

Mina'i Bowl from Kashan Fritware with Underglaze Cobalt and Overglaze Enamel 1218 CE.

On this bowl from Kashan, we see a very rare depiction of an elephant on mina'i ware. Typical scenes include tales from Persian legends, scenes from the hunt with falcons and horses, caravans, or court scenes. These paintings are often compared to those found in the miniatures of manuscript illumination from books of the period. Sometimes, the overglaze enamels were fired atop a turquoise colored glaze as well.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Bowl, late 12th–early 13th century; Seljuq Iran

The technique, known as mina'i ("enameled"), involved a complicated double-firing process. Horsemen were favorite subjects in these works, but the comparative monumentality of the horse and of the princely Seljuq figure, which complement each other, makes this piece unusual. With its knotted tail, decorated bridle, curb bit, saddle, tassels, and rectangular blanket fastened by a breast band, the horse has a truly royal and ceremonial presence.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Fritware is a type of pottery which was first developed in the Near East, where production is dated to the late first millennium AD through the second millennium AD. Frit was a significant ingredient. A recipe for “fritware” dating to 13th century written by Abu’l Qasim reports that the ratio of quartz to “frit-glass” to white clay is 10:1:1. Iznick pottery which was produced in Ottoman Turkey in the 15th century consisted of a body, slip, and glaze, where the body and glaze are 'quartz-frit' containing lead oxide and soda. Chinese blue-and-white porcelain influenced the style of Safavid pottery and had a strong impact on the development of Iznik ware. By the mid-16th century, Iznik had its own vocabulary of floral and abstract motifs in tight designs making use of a limited palette. Decoration progressed from pure symmetry to subtle rhythms.
Iznik dish About 1565 AD
Iznik wares were decorated with elaborate floral patterns known as "Hatay" (Cathay) with Chinese cloud patterns and geometric designs. Early Iznik fritware attempted to duplicate the hardness, whiteness and translucency of much sought after near contemporary Chinese porcelain of the Yung and Ming dynasties (favored by the Ottoman rulers).

Mina’i ware, an enamel-overglaze pottery developed by the potters of Kashan was another imprtant invention during the Saljuk dynast . Mina'i means enamel or a low fire glaze, usually fluxed with lead. The main reason popularity of Mina'i was the wide selection of colors that the process offered. The artists at first bisque fired the work, and then painted it with underglaze cobalt, covered with a transparent glaze and fired again to melt the glaze. At the final stage of the process, the oil based enamels were painted onto the design and the piece fired for multiple times at low temperatures which made it possible to have various colors.

Blue-and-white and transfer-printed ware, about 1750.

The Mongol Empire era that spanned across Asia to Eastern Europe during the 13th and 14th century was a period of increased cultural exchanges among the nations inside this largest contiguous empire in the history of the world. The Iranian artists of the Mongol era in the city of Kāshān, adopted the Chinese celadon green glazes during the13th century. Over the same period, the Chinese artists of the Mongol dynasty of Yuan (1279–1368) introduced the Iranian underglaze blue to China. In fact, historical records indicate that the Chinese source of cobalt was Iran. The Chinese potter further improved the Iranian technique and during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties created the blue-and-white wares. This underglaze blue was introduced to Europe from China by Dutch merchants.
Kubachi' Ware Plate, Safavid Period, Persia, 1500 AD
Safavid Persian dish;(1501-1732)

Kashan Minai pottery dish, Persia, 12th-13th century

The early 1500's would see the establishment of Safavid rulers at their capital of Tabriz and the beginning of a 200 year period of relative stability. During this era the Kubachi style for wares developed in north-western Iran, (the style took its name from the town of Kubachi, presently in the republic of Daghestan in the Caucasus, where they have been excavated). These large polychrome plates, which were painted underneath their crackle glazes have a very soft body, a brilliant crackled glaze, and rhythmical and spontaneous designs. In the 16th century , the Ming Dynasty of China issued a decree banning all foreign trade and closed down all seaports along the coast. These Hai jin laws that came during the Wokou wars with Japanese pirates slowed the export of porcelain, and Dutch merchants looked to Persia to produce pottery in the Chinese style for export. The Iranian potters took the advantage of this opportunity and developed the Gombroon style, which took its name from the port of Gombroon , an English trading post in Iran ( now Bandar Abbās). These Gambroon wares with delicate carved designs on translucent white earthenware bodies were exported to Europe and the Far East in the 16th and 17th centuries.

A Safavid red, blue and white soft paste porcelain jug, Kerman, Iran, 17TH CENTURY With flattened rounded form rising from trumpet foot to a long tapering neck slightly flaring at mouth, the decoration with cusped medallions encompassing stylized red arabesques, the ground with lattice of blue scrolling vines, the sides with Chinese clouds surrounding similar medallions, the neck with blue floral motifs, the foot and mouth with bands of repeating blue cartouches

Safavid Gombroon pottery bowl, Persia, 17th century. The artist has painted a sophisticated blue medallion with a raised central boss encircled by a multi-petalled rosette painted in cobalt blue outlined in black, the walls with pierced "rice-grain" decoration filled with transparent colourless alkaline glaze.The name "Gombroon" refers to the port of Gombroon, or Bandar Abbas, on the Persian Gulf where these wares were shipped for export. The pierced decoration is in imitation of the "rice-grain" decoration in Chinese porcelain.

A Kashan blue and white pottery , central Iran, Late 12th century. The spherical body on spreading foot rising to a tubular neck with deep cup-shaped mouth with flaring cusped rim, the surface simply decorated with vertical bright blue stripes, areas of light silvery iridescence on body, light creamy accretions on neck and mouth, composite from two original contemporaneous vessels

A large Safavid blue and white pottery jug, Possibly from Khorassan, Iran , Circa 1580-1600. A pronounced drop-shape on short foot, the surface completely covered with fine scrolling motifs around a variety of human figures, animals and animal combat groups divided by similar floral sprays, the foot with a band of scrolls, the neck broken and mounted in the Qajar period with a brass band of engraved figural cartouches,

A Safavid blue and white pear-shaped pottery vase, Iran, 17th century With globular neck, painted with scrolling lotus sprays and foliage, the neck with trailing chrysanthemum sprays on a ground of scattered lozenges -- 12½in. (31.7cm) high.

Aa impressive Safavid polychrome figural pottery, Huqqa base Kerman, Iran, Second half of 17th century, A bulbous form on short foot tapering to cylindrical neck with pronounced ring & wide flaring rim, spout on shoulder with cusped pronounced surround, white ground decorated with a depiction of Khusraw hawking on horseback catching a glimpse of Shirin bathing half naked surrounded by green & orange floral spray & stylised depictions of running antelope on ground of cobalt-blue

17TH century blue and white pear shape jug from Iran on short straight foot, the decoration on three registers, the lower with figures enjoying a garden, the intermediate with floral medallions on a lattice ground, and the upper with some abstract geometric patterns, the mouth with a finely engraved copper-alloy fitting, old labels to the base and on lower body

AKM767 Iran, Kashan, 13th century
Aga Khan Museum

Iran, Nishapur, 10th century
Aga Khan Museum

Iran, Garrus, 11th to 12th century
Aga Khan Museum

Iran, Kashan or Rayy, 13th to 14th century
Aga Khan Museum

Wall panel, first quarter of 17th century; Safavid Probably from a garden pavilion in Isfahan, Iran Composite body, 28 square tiles, painted and glazed in cuerda seca technique over white slip, set on plaster;

Isfahan, the Safavid capital, and Na’in were the two main centers in which buildings were lavishly decorated with tilework. The old tile-making tradition of composing repetitive geometrical or vegetal patterns was kept alive on mosques and madrasas, but an important innovation on secular buildings was a composition of square tiles individually painted as single elements of an outdoor scene with characters set in a garden landscape. These were placed in royal garden pavilions from the time of Shah cAbbas to that of Shah Sulayman (the last example being the Hasht Bihisht of 1669). The Museum owns three of these panels, all purchased in 1903 and reported to come from "a palace and pavilion built by Shah cAbbas on the garden avenue of the Chahar Bagh at Isfahan." The panel here shows a woman and three men (two of them sitting in conversation, one of the two in the act of writing) and a woman in the garden. Such scenes were among the most frequent and fashionable subjects chosen by miniature painters of the Safavid period.

Wall panel, first quarter of 17th century; Safavid Probably from a garden pavilion in Isfahan, Iran Composite body, 28 square tiles, painted and glazed in cuerda seca technique over white slip, set on plaster;


Plate with the Death of the Woman of Sestos, 1532 Francesco Xanto Avelli (1486 – 1542) Tin–glazed earthenware (maiolica); Inscribed and dated 1532 on reverse The Friedsam Collection, .
The great pottery painter Xanto is here inspired by Pliny's tale of the devotion of an eagle to a young woman: the eagle is ready to immolate itself to be with her even in death. Strikingly, for this classical tale of loyalty and selflessness the artist draws upon the infamous erotic prints known as I modi for motifs, above all for the nude man seen from behind stoking the fire. This example is not the only occasion on which Xanto made a visual reference to this censored group of engravings. The borrowing is of particular interest here as it introduces what was originally an erotic motif onto a plate that is part of a large dinner service made for the Pucci family.

 Maiolica  is Italian tin-glazed pottery, dating from the Renaissance. It is decorated in bright colours on a white background, frequently depicting historical and legendary scenes. The name is thought to come from the medieval Italian word for Majorca, an island on the route for ships bringing Hispano-Moresque wares from Valencia to Italy.

Perseus, Andromeda and the sea monster. Italian (Urbino), Renaissance, 1524

Maiolica Dish, Urbino 1542 Ashmolean Museum

Ewer with profile busts of a man and a woman, ca. 1520 Possibly workshop of Maestro Giorgio Andreoli (ca. 1465–1553), The Met

Roundel with mock Triumph of Love, ca. 1510–20 Perhaps Castel Durante or elsewhere in the Marches,The Met

A 19th century Italian Majolica tin glazed wall charger in the Renaissance style.

  Moorish potters from Majorca are reputed to have worked in Sicily and it has been suggested that their wares reached the Italian mainland from Caltagirone. An alternative explanation of the name is that it comes from the Spanish term ''obra de Malaga'', denoting “[imported] wares from Malaga”. or ''obra de mélequa'', the Spanish name for lustre.

In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries Islamic potters in Malaga, in the Islamic kingdom of Andalucia, applied lustre to tin-glazed earthenware to produce products, most famously the great lustred vases of the Alhambra, of an ambitious brilliance without precedent. Malaga lustre was deservedly admired and developed extensive export markets throughout the Mediterranean and to northern Europe.

Southern Italy, Proto Maiolica Plate, 13th century

Maiolica plate, Venice, Italy, AD 1516 or later

The rim of this maiolica (tin-glazed earthenware) plate is decorated alla porcellana, or in the manner of Chinese porcelain. In the centre are the arms of the Augsburg families Meuting and Hörwarth. The plate was made to commemorate the marriage of Hans Meuting and Dorothea Hörwarth, which took place in 1516. A tin glaze dries to an opaque white, and is used to mask the clay body to produce a surface in imitation of porcelain. Just as with porcelain, the tin glaze also provides an ideal white background for painted decoration. Alla porcellana is a distinctive Venetian style of maiolica decoration. It imitates, both in form and decoration, Chinese blue-and-white Ming porcelain or its Turkish imitations. These were imported into Venice in large quantities throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. 

Venice was the greatest trading city of the time, connecting the Islamic Near East and beyond to the rest of Europe. Wealthy merchants and agents from the southern German states were among those who frequently patronized Venetian artists. A number of surviving plates have paired arms, usually commemorating the marriages of wealthy Augsburg and Nuremberg families. It is not clear whether these plates were painted at the time of the marriages, or were commissioned later, as there is little documentation or archaeological evidence regarding the production of this type of maiolica made in Venice.

Tin-glazed Delft

The earliest tin-glazed pottery in the Netherlands was made in Antwerp by Guido da Savino in 1512. The use of marl, a type of clay rich in calcium compounds, allowed Dutch potters to refine their technique and to produce much finer ceramics.

An English Delft blue-dash royal portrait of Prince George, Circa 1705, London or Bristol

London was the first major centre in Britain to make tin-glazed ware successfully and on a commercial scale at the end of the 16th century. The term 'delftware' was widely used from the 18th century onwards to refer to tin-glazed earthenware made in Britain, rather than the products of the famous Dutch centre of Delft. The chief attraction of tin-glazing is in allowing potters to decorate their wares with coloured pigments applied over a lead glaze made opaque by the addition of tin. During the later medieval period and into the 16th century, Londoners had only been able to enjoy such decorative pottery as it was brought into the capital from the Continent, with Spanish, Italian and Dutch or Flemish tin-glazed wares the most common types found on excavated sites.

English Delftware shallow bowl Lambeth Pottery London c1740

The earliest manufacture of tin-glazed ware in Britain took place in 1567, when two potters from Antwerp, Jacob Jansen and Jasper Andries, set up a short-lived pothouse in Norwich. In 1570, they petitioned Queen Elizabeth I for a waterside site and a 20-year monopoly to practice tin-glazing in London. The patent was not granted and the potters had to set up their pothouse about half a mile north of the river, in Duke's Place, Aldgate, where Jansen is recorded in 1571 as a 'Pott-maker'. The factory closed around 1615, by which time production had already started on the south bank of the Thames in Southwark at Montague Close (c 1613), followed closely by the establishment of Christian Wilhelm's factory at Pickleherring (c 1618). During the course of the 17th century, further tin-glazed factories were set up close to the river in Southwark and Lambeth, at Rotherhithe and Still Stairs, Gravel Lane, Norfolk House, Copthall and Vauxhall. Another factory was established in Putney c 1680, south of the river and to the west of the main concentration of production sites, and c 1665 at the head of Hermitage Dock, Wapping, on the north bank of the Thames.

Because of the quality of its individual pieces, the ensemble of Delft tin-glazed earthenware and Dutch faience is renowned worldwide.The Belgian ceramics include items of c (Renaissance ceramics), stoneware from Raeren and Buoffioulx, tin-glazed earthenware from Brussels, faience fine from Andenne and porcelain from Brussels. The collection of Tournai porcelain (the Solvay bequest) is one of the two largest in Belgium.

Tin-glazed delft charger, Holland, 17th century

18th century tin glazed earthenware pottery polychrome delft plate

18thc. English delftware pottery charger Bristol pottery c1750

A Dutch Peacock Tin Glazed Pottery Plate, Delft, Early 19th century

Tin-glazed earthenware dish, Spain, first half of the 19th century; in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Lambeth Delft fecundity dish, ca. 1650 Maiolica (tin-glazed earthenware)
 The Lambeth fecundity dish displays the many sources of English Delft pottery. The palette, some of the decorative patterns, and the medallions are derived from Ming porcelains, while other details are influenced by Italian maiolica, or tin-glazed earthenware. The yellow overglaze and the rust dots on the rim border are borrowed from earlier Dutch Delft pottery, and the shape and sculptural design are taken from a dish by the French artist/artisan Bernard Palissy. The "earth mother" subject reflects the Renaissance and baroque revival of classical motifs.

Gouda Pottery

Gouda Pottery started in the 19th century at the town of Gouda that became one of the main centres of the Dutch ceramic industry. Gouda style of pottery was influenced by the Amsterdam school, and pioneered in about 1898 by a company called Plateelbakkerij Zuid-Holland, or PZH. In 1910 PZH discovered the Rhodian process to produce the popular decors with matte glazed pottery. The Gouda ceramic factories used the clay from the vicinity of the town, but also imported their clay from England.

Many designers moved to Zuid-Holland to work at the Gouda ceramic factories. Many of these designers were influenced by the Art Nouveau style, which gradually evolved into the Art Deco in which the flowing, sensual curves and floral motifs of Art Nouveau were modified, and complemented with geometrical curves and shapes. They were decorated with vibrant coloured stylised floral or foliate patterns on a dark background. The opulence of Art Deco was a reaction to the austerity of World War I. Millions of pieces of Gouda pottery were exported to various countries. They were molded from liquid clay, but every piece was hand-painted. That’s why there were so many different artists that worked for the Gouda ceramic factories. The Gouda pieces are signed on the bottom, mostly by the artist's initials that painted them. These artists were paid by the number of pots they produced, so the initial was used by the factories to determine how many pieces were made. Many patterns are outlined with ochre and feature squiggles, curlicues or dots around the main design.

Co to the next chapter; Chapter 13 - Native American Pottery  

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  1. Many thanks for information and pictures I would like to know the source of Sialk pottery that you have mentioned.

    1. Please see: Marghussian, A.K. and Coningham, R.A.E. and Fazeli, H. (2017) 'The evolution of pottery production during the Late Neolithic period at Sialk on the Kashan Plain, Central Plateau of Iran.', Archaeometry., 59 (2). pp. 222-238.