Ceramics of Valencia
The history of the Spanish art ceramics of modern times begins around 1400, with the brilliant flourishing of the ceramic production of Valencia, which replaced the medieval ceramic production of Malaga.
It is very likely that the rapid flowering of the 15th-century Valencian ceramics stood in a certain connection with some supposedly weakening activity of the Malagi workshops in recent years of the independent political existence of the Moors, but, at any rate, the very fall of Malaga in 1487 could not have, as is sometimes written, a decisive significance, since This time the most brilliant period of Valencian production was already over.
Valencia – since 1031 the main city of the independent Moorish state, which separated from the Cordoba Caliphate – was conquered by Chaim I of Aragon in 1238. The fact that at that time in the Kingdom of Valencia there was a ceramic production is evidenced by the fact that in 1251 Chaim I issued to the Mauritanian masters of the city of Shativa, who fell under his authority in 1248, a patent for the right to free production of their craft, under the condition of paying an annual tax. Monuments of this production unfortunately did not survive, and we do not even know if the chandeliers of the chandeliers, so characteristic of the later products of Valencia, were used on faience. The excavations begun before and finished in the Patern, near Valencia, after the imperialist war (1914-1918), found samples of local ceramics, around the 13th-14th centuries, in the form of small bowls with images of fantastic animals, very often fish, snakes and more rare cases – human figures, written on a white background green and violet colors, without the use of a chandelier. The samples of this newly discovered, extremely peculiar, but somewhat primitive ceramics, however, have nothing in common with the faience of Valencia and in no way can be considered the forerunners of the brilliant Valencian wares of the 15th century. Pottery Paterna is still completely apart.
The production of the famous Valencian faience is not connected with the city of Valencia itself. It was concentrated in a number of small towns located in the immediate vicinity of Valencia, and as it now turns out, the leading role was played by the town of Manizes, which was in the possession of the Buil-vassals family of the Aragonese kings.
The beginning of the production of faience in Valencia, based on the latest research, should be attributed to the first half of the XIV century. In surviving to us inventory of property XIV century. a variety of ceramic items from the “terra de Melicha” (Malaga) and “terra de Valencia” are listed, and, what is especially important to us, sometimes the double designation “de terra de Melicha sive de Valencia” is used. Obviously, the products of the two main ceramic centers of Spain in the fourteenth century, that is, Malaga and Valencia, were so markedly similar that it was not always possible to accurately determine the place of their origin. Monuments of the Valencian pottery of the 14th century, at least with a metallic reflection, did not reach us.
In the XV century. the name of Malaga becomes in Spain, apparently, like a household name for art ceramics, perhaps with a metallic reflection. In a number of documents of the 15th century, stored in the archives of Valencia, mention is made of “Obra de melica”, that is, products from Malaga. The fact that under these Malagi products are meant faience of the Valencian factories, and not faience, taken from Malaga, is evident from the letter of the Maria of Castile, Queen of Aragon, found in the Valencian archives, to Don Pedro Buil, the ruler of the city of Manises.
Let us cite this curious document in its style and content: “The Queen: our noble and beloved: We would like to have for our personal use and consumption the Malagasy articles according to the list that we ordered them to compose and which we send to you along with this letter. Therefore, we entrust you and ask you with all possible cordiality, for the sake of love and respect for us, to order that these things be made for us beautiful and elegant and rely on you that they will all constitute one set. And be patient with the fact that we are appealing to your assistance, for we are instructing you to do this, knowing you as a loyal servant to our servant, and because you are at the source of the said production; and we trust in God that this service, which you will render to us, like the foregoing, will always be alive in our memory. And as soon as these things are done, immediately notify our faithful procurator Don Cristobal de Mont Blanche, whom we instructed to ask you and to register with you about it, so that at once they could be sent to their manufacture, and we would like them were already ready. – It is given in the city of Borch, November 26, 1454. – The Queen. “By order of the lord of the queen, I am Bartolome Serena.”
Their wide fame Valencian faience, in all probability, are obliged to a large extent covering their chandelier, the secret of making it became available to Italian masters only in the first half of the XVI century. From a purely colorful point of view, the products of Valencia are characterized by extraordinary restraint, which, by the way, represents a sharp contrast to the variegation and brightness of the simultaneous Italian majolica. Valencian ceramics, in fact, knew only one, thick, dark blue paint, used, moreover, only for a very short period, namely – the first half of the XV century. From the last quarter of this century, the entire painting was performed almost exclusively with a gold chandelier, which, in fact, is not a paint, but only a glint or reflection of Light. As for the painting of Valencian faience, first of all it is necessary to note the complete, until the end of production, the absence of plot images. In rare cases, there are images of individual figures of animals and birds. Faience from Valencia is decorated almost exclusively with ornamental painting, and the ornament is always placed so as to emphasize and reveal the basic shape of the object. So, for example, the ornament on dishes and plates or is located in concentric circles, or forms equal sectors, separated from each other often with relief ribs.
An important and very significant element of the decoration of Valencian faience is the coat of arms of countries, provinces and individuals that adorn them. The very interpretation of the arms is extremely characteristic. Only the main and most essential part of the coat of arms is given, i.e. the shield, yet decorative elements, like crowns, helmets, crests, shield holders, etc., which play such an important role on the products of other countries, are absent here. The technique of execution of arms, as well as the combination of the coat of arms and the surrounding ornament are distinguished by their high perfection. It should be noted that the coats of arms on Valencian faience, which until the XVII century. never dates meet, are for us the main and most valuable material for the chronological definition of monuments.4 Decorating them in a large number of coats of arms of foreign names, mainly Italian, indicate a wide export of Valencia faience abroad. For example, in the Hermitage there is a basin with the coat of arms of the Neapolitan family Bartoli, a dish with the emblem of the famous Sienese bankers and patrons of Spannock, and the large four-handed vase with the coat of arms of Pope Paul V Borghese, received in our collection after October 1917. In addition to the arms of foreign surnames, the significant export of Valencian pottery beyond the border, and the place of finds. A large number of fragments of Valencian faience were found in the south of France (collected now in the museum in Narbonne) and in England, with some fragments from the bottom of the Thames, and one fragment of a magnificent dish with the image of two antelopes was found on the southwestern coast of England , in Bristol, a city that occupied in the XV century, in trade terms, the next place after London. All Spanish-Moorish faience found in England is currently concentrated in the British Museum. There are also a number of written reports on the export of Valencia faience to Pisa, Siena, Naples, Bruges and other cities. In Bruges in 1441 the Valencian faience was exempted from the duty.
A curious monument that testifies to the fascination in Italy of Valencian faience in the 15th century is the picture of Filippino Lippi “The Annunciation”, located in the small Tuscan town of San Gimignano, written in 1482. In the background of the painting, in a wall box, the artist depicted, apparently with the aim of to emphasize the sophistication and value of objects surrounding the Madonna, three Valencian faience: so called. “Winged” vase with two handles and a jug, on the lower shelf, and a small cylindrical vessel, the so-called albarello, on the top. Reproduction of Valencian faience is also found in two paintings by another famous Florentine painter, Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494), in whose works various types of Florentine rooms of the late 15th century were preserved for us. with furnishings and a range of household items. On the first of these paintings, the Annunciation, written in 1482, in Colletate, in San Gimignano, two Valencian vessels are depicted: in the small box representing the lower part of the analog and having one open wall, we see the albarello, and next, on the floor , – a flower-filled vase, a form of so-called. winged, as in the picture of Filippino Lippi, but without pens. On the fresco of Domenico Ghirlandaio “The Nativity of John the Baptist”, in the altar chapel of the Church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence (the contract for the painting of the chapel was compiled in 1485), is depicted an albarello standing on a high wooden bed, Elizabeth.
Reproduction in the paintings of Florentine masters of Valencian faience shows that the latter, apparently – as more rare and fashionable foreign products, were valued above the simultaneous Italian majolica.
Important importance, both for dating and for the history of exports of Valencia faience, has the famous triptych Hugo van der Huss, performed by the master between 1474 and 1477. for Tomaso Portinari, the chief representative and agent of the Medici Bank in Bruges. On the central leaf of the picture with the image of the “Shepherds’ Polonization” there is a specimen of Valencian pottery in the form of a small albarello filled with narcissi and representing, incidentally, along with a row-standing glass with bells, one of the most charming still-lifes of the Dutch school. All the Valencian faience in the Filippino Lippi, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Hugo van der Hus paintings are typical of the Valencian faience of the second half of the 15th century. a pattern of gold or blue grape leaves arranged by belts.
The products of Valencia were exported not only to the countries of Western Europe, where they enjoyed exceptional success during the 15th century, but, especially notably, to the East, to countries with old and highly developed ceramic industry, as evidenced by the fragments found in large quantities when excavated in Egypt, in place of the old Cairo.
Valencia faience is distinguished by a rather significant variety of forms, in most cases somewhat heavy and heavy, but always highly decorative. Typical samples of the early period are large dishes in the form of flat basins with a flat bottom, vertical walls and a narrow horizontal board, so called. collar (Table 1). Curious, not knowing analogies in European ceramics, the variety is represented by dishes with two vertical sides, one – the outer and the other – inside, around the central part of the bottom, usually decorated with a stamp shield. On some, very few specimens, the edges of the sides are seated, as it were, with fasteners, giving the dish a look of extraordinary strength. The shape of these basil dishes, as well as of real deep basins, is obviously borrowed from eastern metal production. Another, more conventional type is represented by dishes with a wide, strongly beveled to the center bead and a uniformly deepening bottom, in the middle of which there is a small, flat circle, as if specially designed for the arm shield. At the end of the XV and the beginning of the XVI century. enter the fashion of the dish with a strongly protruding middle part, so called. an umbilicus, a deeper bottom and a sharp edge separated from it by a wide side with softly bent edges.
Among the vessels there are various forms of vases, with a spherical, egg-shaped or tapering body, often with four handles and a lid, cylindrical vessels, so-called albarelli, jugs, mugs, also sometimes with four handles and a lid, and all kinds of shapes and different cup sizes and calyx.
Absolutely extraordinary, very original and nowhere except for Valencia, the type of vases that are not found represent the so-called. winged vases, with a spherical body, on a high, widening downward circular stem, with a high funnel-shaped neck and two extraordinarily large, flat and massive handles, remotely reminiscent of wings, from which the very name “winged vases”. Usually, the handles of winged vases, obviously – for the purpose of
paralyze the impression of gravity, drilled small, round, symmetrically located holes. Winged vases were produced only during the XV century. Let us note by the way that some researchers find in the handles of these extraordinary vases, also, perhaps, not without reason, a resemblance to the huge, dangling ears of an elephant dangling from below.
Prominent among the Valencian vessels of the XV century. occupy the so-called. albarelli, i.e., cylindrical vessels on a low annular leg, with narrow, slightly sloping shoulders and a broad rather high neck, with a slight thickening along the edge. The form of the so-called albarelli is borrowed from the East, and the direct samples for Western Europe were probably the Syriac or, as they used to be called, Siculo-Arabian faience of the 13th and 14th centuries, among them albarelli, both quantitatively and literally relations play an outstanding role. Curiously, what was the purpose of these simple in form, but at the same time not deprived of some kind of unique beauty, cylindrical vessels manufactured in the West, not only in Spain, but also, and in considerable quantities, in Italy. In the picture of van der Hus “Worship of the Shepherds” we saw a Spanish albarello filled with narcissus. Is the use of albarello in this case as a flower vase by chance, or does it indicate a more or less common custom, it is difficult to say. In the paintings of Italian masters mentioned by us, Filippino Lippi and Ghirlandaio, all the albarelli are covered with a mug of paper or parchment, which is tied under a thickened edge of the neck with a string, which indicates the storage of some products in the vessels. With regard to the appointment of Italian albarellis, we are accurately informed by the inscriptions available on most of them, containing the names of various medicines, medicinal herbs, antidotes, pills, essences, ointments, hair coloring agents, toilet waters, tinctures, syrups, etc., various products that were sold at that time exclusively in pharmacies, which explains why albarelli is now sometimes called pharmacy vessels. By the way, in the Hermitage, as a result of acquisitions of the last twenty years (1917-1937), there is a huge and very valuable collection of Italian majolica chemist’s utensils of the 16th century. In the Valencian albarelli, as in general on the Valencian vessels, there are never inscriptions, and we do not have any definite information about the special appointment of the albarelli in Spain. Nevertheless, it is quite obvious that they served the same purposes as in Italy. In the picture of an unknown Spanish artist of the Catalan school of the second half of the 15th century. “Salome’s Dance” is depicted in a niche, on a shelf, albarello, covered in the same way as in the paintings of Italian masters, with a paper mug tied under a thickened edge of the vessel with a string. Of course, both in Spain and in Italy, along with albarellas of practical purpose, albarellis, which were mainly of a decorative nature, were made. Let us note, by the way, that the Spanish albarelli, especially the earlier ones, with a barely tight body, and sometimes with perfectly vertical walls, in comparison with the Italian ones, produce a somewhat heavy, but at the same time more powerful impression.
Among the bowls, small and small cups are a special and extremely characteristic species, usually on the ring-shaped leg, with two small, flat, set against each other, at the very edge, handles, so-called. “Scudel-les ab orelles”, i.e. bowls with ears. Scudelles ab orelles XV and XVI centuries. preserved in single copies. More often they are found among the products of the XVII century. In the Hermitage collection there are three such copies. In rare cases, there are bowls with four cross-shaped handles.
Very interesting and still very little used material for the history of Valencian ceramics, in terms of forms, paintings and, so to speak, existence, contains a picture of an unknown Spanish artist of the first half of the XV century. “Last Supper”, in the museum in Solson, a small town in the north of Catalonia, four details with which we publish here. In the long table depicted in the picture, covered with a tablecloth with cross strips, a considerable amount of various faience and glassware is placed. In addition, round loaves are laid around the table, whole or cut in half, as well as individual slices of bread already sliced for food, knives with pointed blades at their ends are scattered, and spoons with long, thin, round handles are embedded in the bowl. Forks that came into use much later are not available. The whole table, on the whole, is remarkable and rare for Spanish painting of the 15th century. still life. All the ceramics in the painting are written with utterly extraordinary thoroughness, so that, for example, the inscriptions on the vessels are read without the slightest difficulty. Apparently the author of the painting loved and valued modern ceramic products of Valencia.
– Among the faience ware we are interested in, we see plates, jugs and a large number of small bowls in the picture. There are only three plates. They are symmetrically arranged. Two plates of the same size, at the ends of the table, and one, several large sizes, with the inscription on the board, in the middle, all three empty and, apparently, serve only to decorate the table. It should be borne in mind that in the XV century. The plates were still some kind of luxury items. The plates for food are more or less commonly used only in the next, sixteenth century, and before that, instead of plates, they were usually wooden or metal, round or square, with plaques (in the French tranchoir), usually with superimposed on them, specially made for this purpose, thin, flat dried bread, which had the purpose of absorbing the juice of the cut meat. Such a tranchoir, of a round shape, is depicted on one of the details of the picture reproduced by us. For liquid food, all sorts of bowls and bowls were used. Deep plates also appear only in the next century.
Among the nine small bowls depicted in the picture, as if scattered throughout the table, we can distinguish two varieties: the so-called so-called. scudelles ab orelles, that is, bowls with ears, and bowls without ears, i.e. without pens, and scudelles ab orelles have a flat bottom, and bowls without handles have a small annular leg. Judging by the picture, it is possible that these two types of bowls had different purposes. The cup from which one of the apostles is directly drinking has handles, while the cup into which the other apostle lowers the fingers of the left hand-which, as if pointing to non-liquid content, does not have a handkerchief. Then, it is striking that the painting of cups without handles is somewhat poorer. On three scudelles ab orelles on our pictures there are on the inner surface, along the edge, wide strips with inscriptions, filled with gothic type. On the cup in the hands of the apostle, we read “ave maria”, on one of the bowls standing on the table, the same inscription, and on the other you can read “dominus”. In addition, at the bottom of all three bowls there is one more half-visible letter. Bowls without handles have no inscriptions. Let’s pay attention to one more small detail, namely, how the apostle, who drinks from the bowl, holds it in his hands: thumbs lie on the edge of the vessel, and all the others support the cup at the bottom, and one freely sticking pen is clearly visible. From this it is clear that the cups were taken in hand, so to speak, not by ears, but as was usually done – for the edge and the bottom, and that orelles, ie, pens, had no practical purpose, but only decorative, and, to be may, have served as an ain on the purpose of the vessel, especially for drinking.
In the last-third of the XV century. and at the beginning of the 16th century, around the reign of Ferdinand II of the Catholic who conquered the kingdom of Granada, new ornamental motifs were being developed in the Valencian workshops, which for a long time, until the end of the sixteenth century, determined the style of the Valencian pottery. A significant number of Valensian earthenware that reached us belongs to this period, that is, the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th century. The first thing that catches your eye in these faience, is the decisive transition from multicolour to painting exclusively with a golden chandelier. Thanks first to the truly magnificent chandelier, the colors of pure gold, the faience of this period produces an extraordinarily rich and magnificent impression and are really extremely successful imitations of metallic gilded products. The blue paint used so successfully is used extremely rarely, almost exclusively for painting individual parts of the arms and for carrying out thin, so to speak demarcation lines along the bends of dishes and vessels, in order to better identify the very form of objects.
It is important to note the following circumstance: instead of the disappearing colorfulness, various relief embellishments enter the room. The surface of the dishes is divided into sectors by relief ribs, sometimes connected at the edge by small relief arches, the bottom receives a strongly protruding central part, so called. the ombilic, on the broad sides of the dishes there are relief spoons, some areas are decorated with relief points, etc. New embossed ornaments, borrowed from metal production and essentially alien to clay as a material, had a definite practical purpose, namely, to strengthen the play of the chandelier. The same task is submitted in part to the drawing, which at this time becomes unusually shallow, since the master’s aim is uniform, if possible, spreading the golden gloss over the entire surface of the object. The dominant moment is the desire to evoke the impression of a metal object.
The most typical and typical motive of the new, purely lustered painting is an ornament resembling, in the opinion of some researchers, various types of chain mesh, and according to others – rope nets with a knot in each loop, with loops that are elongated, then lozenge-shaped. This ornament is constantly encountered, and then entirely covers the entire surface of the object, it is divided into individual sections, alternately with the plant, which in the last quarter of the 15th century. acquires a purely conventional and somewhat confusing character. Among the complex weaving of thin vegetative shoots, there are often symmetrically located acorns. Both these basic ornamental motifs of the new style, that is, chain or net and vegetable, are extremely rich in various variants, which, however, due to the brilliance of the chandelier and the shallowness of the design itself, do not play a significant role from the decorative point of view. Around 1500 there is a new floral ornament, more sharp and clear, the main elements of which are a kind of ears and small, round, in the form of rosettes, flowers. One of the secondary, but characteristic ornamental ornaments are often small white circles with an asterisk inscribed in them, placed usually along the edges of the vessels in the form of a curb. As for the distribution of various ornamental motifs, for example, on the surface of large dishes, plates or bowls, then, usually, one of two principles is strictly observed: ornamental motifs are located either by sectors or concentric belts. A new element, as it were, moves into the somewhat stiff ornamentation of the Valencian pottery, embossed, obliquely placed on the sides and sometimes on the umbilical spoons, at the same time enhancing the flickering of the chandelier. Subsequently, on less luxurious specimens, the relief spoons are replaced by written ones.
The exceptional success that the Valencian earthenware enjoyed in the 17th century is evidenced by the Spanish historian Francesco Diago, who in 1613 wrote in his work “Annals of the Valencian Kingdom”: “Among the earthenware, mention should be made of the products of the city of Manises, so finely gilded and painted with such art, that they have become the object of universal enthusiasm. ” Further, Diago mentions the numerous orders for ceramic products coming to Manizes from abroad.
Ceramics of Valencia
Completing the seventeenth century, our brief essay on Spanish-Moorish ceramics, it is necessary only to note that the manufacture of earthenware in Valencia, or more precisely, in Manises, did not cease in the 17th century, but continued as a handicraft production in the 18th and 19th centuries .
The second part of this work, containing a catalog, will give everyone an opportunity to learn more about each subject of the Hermitage collection separately. The first, the so-called Spanish-Moorish faience arrived in the Hermitage in 1885 and 1887. All further acquisitions date from the October Revolution. Since 1917 the Hermitage collection has more than tripled.