Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.



  • Place of origin:

    Caldas da Rainha (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1870 - 1880 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Mafra workshop (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Earthenware painted with black and brown enamels and impressed

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Major Kenneth Dingwall, DSO.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 139, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case H1, shelf 3

Physical description

Figure of a snake in earthenware painted with black and brown enamels. In three coils forming an 'S'. Impressed with a repeated oval pattern.

Place of Origin

Caldas da Rainha (made)


ca.1870 - 1880 (made)


Mafra workshop (made)

Materials and Techniques

Earthenware painted with black and brown enamels and impressed


Width: 15.6 cm maximum

Object history note

Manuel Cipriano Gomes (1831-1905) was born in a village near Mafra. In 1850, he moved to Caldas da Rainha, a spa town in central west Portugal known for ceramic making. He adopted the name Mafra and set up his workshop in 1853, having purchased the existing workshop of Maria dos Cacos, for whom he had at first worked. In about 1870, he gained royal patronage. In 1887, his son Edouardo Augusto joined the business for a time but left for a political career. Mafra died in 1905. The artisanal workshop specialised in zoomorphic vessels and wares inspired by the work of Palissy (France, 16th century).

Historical context note

Figures of snakes feature as part of the decoration on plates and vases produced by Palissy and his many contemporary and nineteenth-century followers.

Descriptive line

Figure of a coiled snake in earthenware painted with black and brown enamels, glazed, probably made in the workshop of Manuel Mafra, Caldas da Rainha, Portugal, ca.1870-80

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

José Quieros, Ceramica Portuguesa, Lisbon, 1948
Katz, Marshall P., 'Portuguese Palissy Ware', New York, 1999
Cristina Ramos e Horta, 'Manuel Mafra 1829-1905' in 'Manuel Mafra: Mestre na Cerâmica das Caldas', Caldas da Rainha, Portugal, 2009
Cristina Ramos e Horta, 'Manuel Mafra Ceramics in the Victoria and Albert Museum', in 'Artis: Revista de História da Arte e Ciências do Património', no.1, Portugal, 2013
Cristina Ramos e Horta, 'Portuguese Ceramicist Manuel Mafra: Nature, Exoticism and Luxury' in Journal of the Decorative Arts Society, no.37, 2013



Subjects depicted



Ceramics; Earthenware


Ceramics Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.