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Dish

  • Place of origin:

    Italy (south, made)

  • Date:

    1250-1300 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tin-glazed earthenware, painted in colours

  • Museum number:

    C.120-1978

  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 145, case 4, shelf 2

The production of tin-glazed tablewares (maiolica) starts in Italy around the year 1200. Prior to this, most of the glazed, both lead and tin-glazed, ceramics found in Italy were imports from Egypt and North Africa, and were used primarily as decoration in church facades (known collectively as 'bacini'). Some of the earliest imported glazed ceramics date to the 10th and 11th centuries. It appears that the attractiveness of this imported glazed material encouraged local production of glazed wares throughout the peninsula of Italy.

Physical description

Dish of flat, conical form and pale buff fabric, the foot-ring with two suspension holes pierced before firing. The upper side covered with a tin-glaze of warm tone which has only been applied to the underside in the region of the rim. The upper side has a design drawn in dark manganese purple of a man standing between two lilies. The left hand side of his tunic is washed in orange-brown and hatched in manganese; the right side of his tunic, similarly hatched, is washed in copper-green. Conversely, the lily to the left is coloured green, the lily to the right, orange-brown. The man's hair, features and legs are in manganese. The whole design is bordered by two concentric manganese rings.

Place of Origin

Italy (south, made)

Date

1250-1300 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Tin-glazed earthenware, painted in colours

Object history note

This dish was bought from Sotheby's in London for £1650.00 (RP 78/2337).

MA/1/S2595/21
Nominal File: Sotheby’s Pt.21 1978-1978

23 November 1978 Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, Oxford
Report on Thermoluminescent Tests
Sample was obtained in powder form on 1 November 1978
Object: an Italian early maiolica basin with fish design (circa 14th century) Lot 46
[note: this description matches C.330-1914 and not C.120-1978 SEE BELOW]
Sample taken from: in the foot
Result: Using standard methods and techniques it is estimated that material of the sample was last fired between 570 and 1070 years ago.

Purchase from Sotheby, New Bond Street
C.120-178 Bowl, tin-glazed earthenware
Italian (North Apulia), late 13th or early 14th century
£1,650.00
Handwritten memo/note:
Bought for £1,500. Whitehouse says N.Apulia, late 13th or early 14th century
Small bowl
Whitehouse, “La Liguria…” Atti 1971, pl.IIB from Tripi, Laconia, Greece
Janet E. Buerger, Atti 1974, fig. 17, Lucera, Museo Civico
Registry: Could you please alter registration as it was in the end not the basin with fish byt the bowl with a man between two lilies that we bought. Mallet

Note from Mallet to Director:
Archaic Maiolica Purchase
You will have heard from…about our purchase of the small bowl…This was the piece with the man between two lilies…After I saw you I discussed both pieces with John beckwith, who was not able to comment on the iconography except to discount the Frederick II story. I also spoke by telephone with David Whitehouse, Director of the British School at Rome and in my view the best expert in this field. Whitehouse was in no doubt that this piece is genuine and cited some parallels most of which I had already turned up already. He was convinced the bowl came from North Apulia and can be dated to late 13th or early 14th century. We have nothing like this and he said the only museum outside Italy that has anything comparable is the Cluny in Paris…

Joan Prentice von Erdberg
The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 92, No. 571 (Oct., 1950), pp. 283-287

Historical context note

The production of tin-glazed tablewares (maiolica) starts in Italy around the year 1200. Prior to this, most of the glazed, both lead and tin-glazed, ceramics found in Italy were imports from Egypt and North Africa, and were used primarily as decoration in church facades (known collectively as 'bacini'). Some of the earliest imported glazed ceramics date to the 10th and 11th centuries. It appears that the attractiveness of this imported glazed material encouraged local production of glazed wares throughout the peninsula of Italy.

Lead-glazed tablewares are known to have been produced int he region of Apulia in southern Italy in the 11th and 12th centuries. However, tin-glazed tablewares do not appear in Apulia until the early decades of the 13th century. Production centres have been found at Brindisi and also at Lucera where it is probable that the technique was introduced by Islamic potters from Sicily.

Tin glaze is a lead glaze rendered opaque by the addition of tin oxide. Early tin-glazed wares (maiolica) have a dull glaze due to the small amount, 3-5%, of tin oxide added to the glaze mixture. The more tin oxide added to the glaze mixture, the brighter, or whiter, the resultant glaze becomes. Italian pottery production centres had to imprt their tin which increased the costs of production and would explain why little tin was used in the earliest products.

Descriptive line

Bowl, tin-glazed earthenware painted in green, brown and yellow, decorated with man and two lilies, Southern Italy (North Apulia), 1250-1300

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

Janet E. Buerger, 'Ceramica smaltata tardo medievale della costa Adriatica', Atti VII (1974), pp.243-259
Nicola Vacca, La ceramica salentina, Lecce, 1954
David Whitehouse, 'Ceramiche e vetri medievali provenienti dal castello de Lucera', Bollettino d'Arte, 1966, pp.171-8
David Whitehouse, 'La Liguria e la ceramica medievale nel mediterraneo', Atti IV (1971), pp.265-294
David Whitehouse, 'Medieval Glazed Pottery of Lazio', Papers of the British School at Rome, XXXV (1967), pp.41-86
David Whitehouse, 'Le ceramiche medievali dal castello de Lucera', Atti XI (1978), pp.33-44
David Whitehouse, 'Apulia', in La ceramica medievale nel mediterraneo occidentale, Fioreze, 1986, pp.573-586
Joan Prentice von Erdberg, 'Maiolica by known artists in the collection of the Musee de Cluny', Burlington Magazine, vol.92, no.571 (Oct., 1950), pp.283-287

Labels and date

Bowl, tin-glazed earthenware
Italian (North Apulia), late 13th or early 14th century [1978]
9. Dish with man in coulottes
South Italy, 1250-1300
Earthenware painted with colours into the opaque tin-glaze
The use of yellow in this design suggests the influence of Tunisian and Sicilian ceramics.
Museum no.C.120-1978. Bought. [2007]

Materials

Earthenware

Techniques

Painted; Tin glazed

Subjects depicted

Men; Lilies

Categories

Ceramics; Earthenware

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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