Tuesday, November 10, 2009
This spectacular bowl, part of the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, is made of earthenware covered with an opaque tin glaze and painted in lustre, a metallic pigment. It is decorated with a ship that has the arms of Portugal on its sail, and it may well have been commissioned by a Portuguese maritime merchant. It was long presumed that this bowl came from the famous lustre potteries around Valencia on the east coast of Spain. They were active from around 1300, when this region was under Christian rule, although the techniques employed (notably the tin glaze and lustre decoration) were of Islamic origin. It is thought that these techniques were introduced to Valencia by potters from Málaga, a port on the south coast of Spain that remained in Muslim hands until 1487.
In 1983 scientific analysis of the clay body of the bowl showed that it contained schistose inclusions characteristic of the wares from Málaga itself. The bowl, which can be dated to the mid 15th century, therefore demonstrates that the lustre workshops of Málaga were still producing ceramics of outstanding quality during the last decades of their existence. It stands at the end of one great tradition and at the beginning of another.
Posted by Tillerman at 1:59 PM