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Gazelle

  • Object:

    Vase

  • Place of origin:

    Manises (made)

  • Date:

    1860-1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tin-glazed earthenware painted with cobalt blue and lustre

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the support of <font -i>Travel with the V&A</font>: Spain 2008

  • Museum number:

    C.10-2008

  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 139, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case H1, shelf 4

This is a small-scale copy of the 'Gazelle vase', one of a series of magnificent lustre storage jars known as 'Alhambra vases', which were made in Islamic Spain in the 14th century.

Lustre is a decorative technique of overglaze painting with metallic oxides which was invented in Iraq in the 9th century, and used to decorate ceramics made throughout the Islamic Middle East. In medieval Spain, lustre potters worked for both Muslim and Christian patrons, and in the 14th century two production centres emerged in the south-east, at Islamic Málaga and Christian Manises (near Valencia).

The 'Gazelle vase' was found in the late 18th century at the Alhambra Palace in Granada, and by the mid 19th century it had become an icon of the rediscovery of Spain's Islamic past. The craze for historicist styles throughout Europe at this time propelled potters in Manises to revive the production of lustre ceramics for which their ancestors had been famous in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Though the 'Gazelle vase' had been made in Málaga, not Manises, it also became the emblem of the revived lustre industry, and was incorporated into many factories' logos and advertising, even the coat of arms of Manises town council.

Physical description

Vase of tin-glazed earthenware painted with cobalt blue and lustre. Small copy of the 'Gazelle Vase'. With a pear-shaped body and two 'wing' handles which are connected to its tall neck by animal heads. A wide band of Arabic inscription wraps the belly of the vase, and reads 'al-yumn wa al-iqbal', meaning 'good fortune and prosperity'. Above this band on one side are two slender gazelles facing each other against a background of plant scrolls. In this location on the other side is one large floral scroll pattern. Bands of inscriptions in pseudo-Arabic script fill the borders all over the vase. The neck is divided into vertical panels each decorated with a different design. Around the lowest part of the vase are oval medallions alternating with lobed cartouches containing more pseudo-inscriptions.

Place of Origin

Manises (made)

Date

1860-1900 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Tin-glazed earthenware painted with cobalt blue and lustre

Marks and inscriptions

'al-yumn wa al-iqbal'
'good fortune and prosperity'
The wide band around the belly of the vase copies quite accurately the Arabic inscription of the original 14th-century 'Gazelle Vase' (now in the Alhambra Museum), but the remaining inscriptions on this vase are less accurate, and referred to as 'pseudo-inscriptions'.

Dimensions

Height: 35.5 cm, Width: 18 cm maximum

Object history note

Copy of the 'Gazelle Vase', the most famous of all the so-called 'Alhambra vases', made in Islamic Spain (probably Malaga) in the 14th and early 15th century.

Historical context note

This is a small-scale copy of the ‘Gazelle vase’, one of a series of magnificent lustre storage jars known as ‘Alhambra vases’, which were made in Islamic Spain in the 14th century. Lustre is a decorative technique of overglaze painting with metallic oxides which was invented in Iraq in the 9th century, and used to decorate ceramics made throughout the Islamic Middle East. In medieval Spain, lustre potters worked for both Muslim and Christian patrons, and in the 14th century two production centres emerged in the south-east, at Islamic Málaga and Christian Manises (near Valencia).

The ‘Gazelle vase’ was found in the late 18th century at the Alhambra Palace in Granada, and by the mid 19th century it had become an icon of the rediscovery of Spain’s Islamic past. The craze for historicist styles throughout Europe at this time prompted potters in Manises to revive the production of lustre ceramics for which their ancestors had been famous in the 14th and 15th centuries. Lustre production had continued on a small scale into the 18th century, and knowledge of this complex technique was passed down through generations of potters. Even today it is still practised according to traditional methods.

Though the ‘Gazelle vase’ had been made in Málaga, not Manises, it also became the emblem of the revived lustre industry, and was incorporated into many factories’ logos and advertising, even the coat of arms of Manises town council. The V&A acquired an important collection of lustre dishes made in the early days of the revived industry, but never a vase. This acquisition therefore fills a significant gap in our collection.

Mariam Rosser-Owen, 'Icon of an Islamic Past', short article among the pick of the V&A's new acquisitions, in the V&A Magazine issue 17, Autumn/Winter 2008, p. 76

Descriptive line

Vase of tin-glazed earthenware painted with cobalt blue and lustre, imitating the 14th century 'Gazelle Vase', Manises, 1860-1900.

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

Mariam Rosser-Owen, 'Icon of an Islamic Past', short article among the pick of the V&A's new acquisitions, in the V&A Magazine issue 17, Autumn/Winter 2008, p. 76

Production Note

Manises (near Valencia) was the main production centre for lustreware during the medieval period. This industry was revived in the mid-19th century and this type of vase became one its most iconic forms.

Materials

Tin glaze; Earthenware

Techniques

Painted; Lustre

Subjects depicted

Inscription; Gazelle

Categories

Lustre ware; Ceramics; Earthenware

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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