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Early Spanish Pottery
The art of pottery making was transmitted to the Spanish Caliphate in Cordova around the 9th and 10th century. They were admired by both royalty and the affluent and was soon adopted and produced by the Spaniards, with Granada and Valencia becoming the centre of ceramic ware production.
The Spanish translation of the art of pottery making showed a great improvement and refinement over the earlier ‘imported’ foreign styles, and for the first time in the whole of Europe, pottery enhancements like tin glazes were used to create a bright and lustrous finish.
Best Known Examples
The Hispano-Mauresque is one of the best-known examples of Spanish ceramic ware. With its lustrous finish, these earthenware pottery were formed as tall amphora-shaped vases and known as Alhambra. Other pieces produced include large food platters inscribed with the Cost of Arms of Spanish royalty.
Today, the art of ceramic production with the Hispano-Mauresque lustre is still carried on, and it is still based on traditional forms and styles.
Vases were designed with Arabic inscriptions, arabesques, and in rare cases, some stylish animal forms. They possessed an unusual iridescence and lustre, and by the 14th to the 15th century, the beauty of Spanish ceramics was bespoke as its production reached its peak.
16th Century Spain Yields Ceramic Prominence to Italy
By the 16th century, Spain lost its pottery prominence to Italian potters' styles but pottery kilns close to the Toledo region and those in Talavera de la Reina continued to produce beautiful household objects and pretty Spanish tiles.
Objects were decorated with scenes from their own era and lovely figural forms with colour combinations of blue/white, ochre/blue, or in brown, green, white, and blue.
18th Century Spanish Ceramics
Throughout the 18th century, fine pottery made in Faience, Italy came in form of a glazed biscuit ware and the name faience is now popularly applied to many such decorative ceramic wares. The Spanish potters soon adopted the styles which were mainly tableware inspired by French art styles with features and themes characteristic of the Spanish.
Spanish wall tiles made in Catalonia were enhanced with themes of gaiety and paintings of sportsmen, amusements, dancing scenes or artwork showing humorous pictures of bullfights, incidents associated with Don Quixote, or images showing people drinking newly discovered beverages.
And in the churches, ceramic artworks were used in forms of decorative tiles that were painted with religious themes. These were used as altar décor in churches.
Pottery Made for the Peasants
There were many small-scale local potters located in the southern regions of Spain that made pottery exclusively for the peasants. The wares produced include ornamental bowls, plates and water pitchers. Walls were lavishly decorated with lots of different shapes and sizes of ornamental plates, a common feature that was associated with the interior décor of the time.
Up till the present day, Spanish water jars still maintain the same designs of the ancient pottery works created over two thousand years ago.
And up to some few years ago, the ceramics carried by donkeys in the regional districts contributed tremendously to the beautiful picturesque landscape of countryside Spain, one that distinctly shows an outsider a touch of Spain.
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