Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V05, Page 741 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LATER WARES OF SPAIN AND PORTUGAL We shall only deal at length here with those important kinds of pottery that have exerted real influence on the historical development of the art. Offshoots from the main stem that have developed little or no individuality can only be briefly mentioned. When the characteristic Spanish-Moorish lustre wares ceased to be desired by the wealthy they rapidly sank into insignificance, though as a decorative peasant pottery their manufacture never really ceased and has been revived again in our day. The course of pottery importation was changed and the now fashion-able Italian majolica was brought into Spain in the 16th and 17th centuries, as Hispano-Moresque wares had followed the opposite course two centuries earlier. Besides the influence which these imported wares had on the Spanish potters, a number of wandering Italian majolists found their way into Spain, so that we find the use of painted colour, particularly blue, yellow, orange, green and purple, making its appearance at various centres, around Valencia, at Triana near Seville, &c., but the most important manufacture was at Talavera in the centre of the peninsula. The best of this ware recalls the late Italian majolica of Savona, and the influence of Chinese porcelain de-signs, probably filtered through to the Spanish potters by the then popular enamelled Delft wares, is very apparent. The potteries of Talavera are mentioned as early as 156o, and they continued at work, with varying fortunes, down to the end of the 18th century. Many and varied wares were produced, including tiles as well as pottery; the most common pottery pieces are dishes, howls, vases, tinajas, holy-water vessels, drug-pots, and hanging flower vases,together with moulded and painted snails, owls, dogs, oranges, almonds, walnuts, and every kind of fruit. Apart from the poorer colour the baroque style of ornament also rendered the ware much inferior to that of Italy or of France. The popular Talavera wares were imitated else-where in Spain, and a number of factories existed at Toledo in the 17th century, but their wares are very inferior. In the 18th century, besides debased imitations of this ware, some coarse but striking pottery was made at Puente del Arzobispo near Toledo. An interesting offshoot from the Talavera potteries is to be found in the tin-enamelled wares made at Puebla, Mexico, from the early 17th century. It is said that Spanish potters weresettled at this place by the Dominicans soon after 1600; and the making of a debased form of Spanish majolica continued there for nearly two centuries. See Barber's "Tin-Enamelled Pottery," Bulletin of the Philadelphia Museum, 1907. During the 18th century determined efforts were made by King Charles III. and by the famous Count Aranda to improve the Spanish pottery wares, as well as to introduce the manufacture of porcelain. The efforts of the king led to the foundation of the porcelain works at Buen Retiro near Madrid, which will be mentioned later, and considerable success also attended the revival of strong copper lustre, like that of the late Hispano-Moresque wares; but the finest tin-enamelled wares were those made at Alcora in the important factory founded by Count Aranda in 1726, which continued in operation down to the French wars. For his purposes the count brought from Moustiers, then one of the famous French pottery centres (see above), Joseph Olerys, a well-known pot-painter. He went to Alcora as chief draughts-man and designer, having charge of a number of Spanish potters and painters. Olerys introduced the Moustiers style of decoration, and the glaze and body of the Alcora wares of the best period recall the fine quality of Moustiers faience. It is only fair to add that Olerys in his turn learnt the use of various delicate yellow and green colours from the Spaniards, and when he returned to France in 1737, having acquitted himself most honourably, he introduced this new style of delicate polychrome decoration at Moustiers. The mixture of motives and ideas that animated the duke and his potters may be seen by the following list of wares produced about 1750. Vases of different shapes; small teapots; teapots and covers, Chinese fashion; teapots and covers, Dutch fashion; cruets, Chinese style; entree dishes; salt-cellars, Chinese style; escudillas (bowls) of Constantinople; barquillos (sauce-bowls), Chinese style; cups, plates, and saucers of different kinds with good painted borders in imitation of lace-work, and finally fruit-stands, salad-bowls and dishes, trays and refrigerators. Later in the century the manufacture of porcelain was introduced here, as well as white earthenware made in imitation of the productions of Wedgwood, and the tin-enamelled wares flickered out in Spain as they did elsewhere. The manufacture of a kind of debased majolica was also practised in Portugal from the 16th century down to our own times; but the ware never attained to any distinction and is little known outside that country. The best-known specimens were made at Rato, near Lisbon, where a factory was founded in 1767 under the patronage of the court. Mention must be made of the unglazed native pottery of Spain and Portugal, for wine-jars, water-jars and bottles, cooking pots, and other domestic utensils are still made in these countries for ordinary domestic use, in traditional forms and by methods of the most primitive kind. Many of these vessels, especially the tinajas (wine-jars) and water-coolers, are based on ancient, classical or Arab forms, and in every country market-place it is still common to see groups of vessels, in unglazed pottery of fine shape and finish, exposed for sale—a very different state of things from what obtains in France, Germany, and particularly in England, where the primitive methods of the peasant are being imitated by those who ought to know better. From the 16th to the 18th century a special kind of unglazed pottery vessels known as buccaros was extensively made both in Spain and Portugal. The body of the ware is unglazed, whitish, black or red, according to the special kind of clay. The curious point about this ware is that, if we may believe contemporary documents, the vessels were delicately scented, like a ware imported from Mexico; and the soft vessels are said to have been eaten—a custom common enough in certain parts of Central and Southern America. (See M. L. Solon, The Noble Buccaros, 1896.) (W. B.*)

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