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Dish

  • Place of origin:

    Paterna (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1325-50 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tin-glazed earthenware painted with copper and manganese oxides

  • Museum number:

    C.21-1931

  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 145, case 47

Paterna is located in the Valencian region of Spain and this area has many natural reserves of fine clays. Ceramic production centres are known here from the early part of the 13th century and it is very possible that some of these, such as in Paterna, were in operation from the latter part of the 12th century. Archaeological excavations have revealed production centres in Paterna, Manises and in Valencia itself, as well as in other smaller areas.

Until the reconquest of the Valencian region in the middle of the 13th century under King James I of Aragon (1213-1276), the Valencian ceramic centres were under Islamic control. It would seem likely that these ceramic centres had been in contact with and familiar with the products of other Islamic pottery-making centres further south in the Iberian peninsula such as at Cordoba and Malaga.

Paterna was one of the centres producing what is known as 'painted tin-glazed earthenwares'. Adding a glaze to ceramics not only produces an impermeable surface but also enables the potters to produce different decorative effects. Tin glaze is produced by adding tin oxide to a standard lead glaze. This opacifies the glaze, leaving a solid whitish surface upon which decoration can be painted. Lead glaze had long been known and used on ceramics but tin-glaze was not manufactured until the early 9th century. The earliest known pieces of tin-glazed ceramics come from the Islamic Middle East ceramic production centres. The technique spread along the Islamic trade routes to the Near East, North Africa and then into Spain.

This dish from Paterna was made in the in the first half of the 14th century in a style that had been produced since the first decades of the 13th century. The centre of the dish is painted with a stylised animal, probably a lion. The outline of the lion is painted in manganese oxide which produces a purple/brown colour. The rest of the lion is painted green which is derived from copper oxide. Spain is particularly rich in these minerals. The 'brown and green' decorative scheme which medieval Paterna specialised in seems to have derived from a similar earlier tradition in Cordoba, in southern Spain.

Paterna tin-glazed green and brown decorated ceramics were quite prized and were traded along the western Mediterranean trade routes. They inspired similar decorative schemes in ceramic production centres in Southern France and in Central Italy.

Physical description

Circular dish with a small foot. Painted with a stylised figure of a lion facing left in green, outlined in a purple-brown.

Place of Origin

Paterna (made)

Date

ca. 1325-50 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Tin-glazed earthenware painted with copper and manganese oxides

Dimensions

Height: 5.4 cm, Diameter: 24.2 cm

Historical context note

Paterna is located in the Valencian region of Spain and this area has many natural reserves of fine clays. Ceramic production centres are known here from the early part of the 13th century and it is very possible that some of these, such as in Paterna, were in operation from the latter part of the 12th century. Archaeological excavations have revealed production centres in Paterna, Manises and in Valencia itself, as well as in other smaller areas.

Until the reconquest of the Valencian region in the middle of the 13th century under King James I of Aragon (1213-1276), the Valencian ceramic centres were under Islamic control. It would seem likely that these ceramic centres had been in contact with and familiar with the products of other Islamic pottery-making centres further south in the Iberian peninsula such as at Cordoba and Malaga.

Paterna was one of the centres producing what is known as 'painted tin-glazed earthenwares'. Adding a glaze to ceramics not only produces an impermeable surface but also enables the potters to produce different decorative effects. Tin glaze is produced by adding tin oxide to a standard lead glaze. This opacifies the glaze, leaving a solid whitish surface upon which decoration can be painted. Lead glaze had long been known and used on ceramics but tin-glaze was not manufactured until the early 9th century. The earliest known pieces of tin-glazed ceramics come from the Islamic Middle East ceramic production centres. The technique spread along the Islamic trade routes to the Near East, North Africa and then into Spain.

This dish from Paterna was made in the in the first half of the 14th century in a style that had been produced since the first decades of the 13th century. The centre of the dish is painted with a stylised animal, probably a lion. The outline of the lion is painted in manganese oxide which produces a purple/brown colour. The rest of the lion is painted green which is derived from copper oxide. Spain is particularly rich in these minerals. The 'brown and green' decorative scheme which medieval Paterna specialised in seems to have derived from a similar earlier tradition in Cordoba, in southern Spain.

Paterna tin-glazed green and brown decorated ceramics were quite prized and were traded along the western Mediterranean trade routes. They inspired similar decorative schemes in ceramic production centres in Southern France and in Central Italy.

Descriptive line

Earthenware dish with tin-glaze and painted in green and brown. Made in Spain (Paterna) in about 1325-1350

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Juan Ainaud de Lasarte, Ceramica y Vidrio, Ars Hispania X, Madrid: Plus Ultra, 1952
Andre Bazzana, Josep Vincent Lerma, et al., La ceramica islamica en la ciudad de Valencia (1) - Catalogo, Valencia, 1983
Josep Vincent Lerma, et al., La loza gotico-mudejar en la ciudad en la ciudad de Valencia, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1991
Maria-Paz, Soler Ferrer, Historica de la Ceramica Valenciana, vol.II, Valencia, 1988
Mercedes Mesquida Garcia, Una terrisseria dels segles XIII i XIV, Paterna, 1987
Mercedes Mesquida Garcia, La ceramica de Paterna en el siglo XIII, Paterna, 1989
Francois Amigues & Mercedes Mesquida Garcia, Ceramics Medieval de Paterna en la Colleccio Rafael Alfonso Barbera, Paterna, 1985
Francois Amigues & Mercedes Mesquida Garcia, Les Ateliers et la Ceramique de Paterna (XIIIe-XVe siecle), exh. cat., Musee Saint-Jacques, Beziers
Le Vert et le Brun, exh. cat., Musee de Marseille, 1995
Anthony Ray, Spanish Pottery 1248-1898, with a catalogue of the collection in the Victoria and Albert Msueum, V&A Publications, 2000

Production Note

Paterna is in the Valencian region of northern Spain.

Materials

Buff earthenware; Tin glaze; Manganese oxide; Copper oxide

Techniques

Painting; Glazing

Subjects depicted

Lion

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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