Saturday, November 17, 2007

Industry in Britain

Great Britain 1700-1800: Industrial Revolution brings huge changes to industry. Eventually, small potteries can not compete, but this encourages development of genuinely alternate "art pottery" or studio potters. Technical improvements introduced into Staffordshire (main pottery area): Stoneware produced by John Dwight and Elers brothers (from Holland) end of 17th c--lathe-turned, precise shapes influenced by Chinese Yixing wares. Calcined flint added to make white body, salt glaze stoneware. Creamware perfected by Wedgwood--low fire earthenware, cheap, light colour takes decoration, industrial parallels development of consumer culture, emphasis on dining, etiquette, fashion. Creamwares after 1760 revolutionize tablewares available to middle classes, replace tin glaze.
Ralph Daniel introduces plaster of Paris from Continent for molds in 1740s--used for press molding salt glaze wares (slip casting not economical until introduction of deflocculants in 19th c.). Transfer printing introduced 1753. First used on enamels, but adapted to pottery. Copper plate printed ink on tissue or oil on gelatin bat. Oil transferred to pot, dusted with oxides for colour. Allowed for efficient, mass-produced decoration, popularity of prints (Hogarth and others), political commentary, souvenir jugs etc. Thomas Whieldon (1719-95) "agate wares" (white clay body coloured with iron, manganese, cobalt—clay wedged together to marbleize, imitate stone) and "tortoiseshell wares" (glaze colours dusted on, mix with streaky glaze). Enoch Booth introduces biscuit firing, which allows pots to be produced one place, decorated at another.
Redware, or red stoneware, was a popular type of unglazed pottery in the mid-eighteenth century in many parts of Europe, especially the Low Countries and England. It was principally intended to imitate Chinese tablewares for the preparation and serving of tea. In Stafforsdshire, the preparation of the red clays, using local Stafforsdshire clays which fired at a high temperature, had been perfected at the end of the seventeenth century by the Dutch brothers John Philip and David Elers. They produced exceptionally finely made teapots, mugs and tea canisters. The subsequent manufacture in the 1760s of unglazed red 'useful' wares was one of the ways in which Josiah Wedgwood established his name as a potter in the late eighteenth century. Wedgwood refined the body, and called it “rosso antico.” The most common surviving pieces are mugs, tankards, teapots and coffeepots. Shapes were made using plaster moulds.
Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795): brilliant innovator, businessman, encourages canals, opposes slavery, supports French/American revolutions (real paradox!). Capitalizes on vogue for consumer goods, neoclassical decorative wares, improves creamware body--"Queensware"--admired by Queen Charlotte, wife of George III. "Frog Service" 1773 for Catherine the Great of Russia. Designs often based on metalwares, pierced wares, transfer printed. Jasperware: body coloured with cobalt other minerals (later, just dipped)--designs by leading neoclassical artists, copied from archaeological designs published by Sir William Hamilton and others from Pompeii, Herculaneum--used in furniture, tea services, jewellery, decorative vases—extremely elaborate and ornate.
Wedgwood produced a copy of the celebrated Portland Vase in black-and-white jasper-ware. The original, attributed to the Roman gem-cutter Dioskourides, is in the style of works made between 30 and 20 B.C. After its discovery in the late sixteenth century in the tomb of the Emperor Septimius Severus, it became one of the most admired works of antiquity and passed through an illustrious series of collections, among them those of Cardinal Barberini, Sir William Hamilton, and finally, the duchess of Portland, who donated it to the British Museum. The iconography remains a mystery, though many interpretations have been offered. A recent theory is that the frieze depicts (as the vessel is turned) Peleus entering to meet Thetis in the presence of her parents and Aphrodite and that the vase was made as a wedding present for the Emperor Augustus's daughter Julia on her marriage to Marcus Claudius Marcellus, her cousin, in 25 B.C. Wedgwood continued to issue editions of the vase throughout the 19th and 20th c.
The research of Josiah Wedgwood I (1730-95), and his experiments with various types of clays and methods of firing led to the production of creamware from the early 1760s. Wares made at Wedgwood in Burslem were sent to Liverpool to John Sadler (1720-89) and Guy Green (retired 1799) to be decorated with transfer prints.

French Porcelain

French Porcelain: Develops under court patronage. Soft-paste porcelain—made without the ingredient kaolin—was first manufactured in France in the late 17th century. No source of kaolin in France until 1768; soft paste still favoured until 19th c. Several important factories were founded, most around Paris. The earliest commercial porcelain was made at Saint-Cloud in about 1693. The Chantilly factory was founded by Louis-Henry de Bourbon, prince de Condé (1692–1740) in 1730. Chantilly moves to Vincennes (1738).
At bequest of Mme. Pompadour (favorite of Louis XV) moved to Sevres outside Paris 1756. Sevres granted exclusive privilege to make wares "in the style of Saxony" (Meissen) for 20 years—no need to pursue commercial success. Completely tied to system of power, intrigue of court. Employs hundreds of workers, some of greatest French artists, 7 specialist workshops—fashionable decorative objects, special effects--reserves ("camaieu") painted with fantasy scenes-Chinoiserie, rococo influence--potpourris, garnitures, plaques, opera glasses, ice buckets, table wares.
At the château of Vincennes, east of Paris, in 1740, under the aristocratic patronage of Jean-Louis Orry de Fulvy (1703-51), a soft-paste porcelain factory was established by former Chantilly workmen, In 1745, the factory, under Charles Adam, Orry de Fulvy’s valet, was granted a 20-year royal privilege to manufacture porcelain painted in the Meissen style with figures and gilding. Following Orry de Fulvy’s death, the factory experienced financial difficulties but began a new phase in 1752 when Louis XV, king of France (1723-74) acquired one quarter of the shares. The factory was then renamed the manufacture du roi (royal manufactory) and was granted official permission to mark its pieces with the royal cipher of interlaced L’s. In 1756 the factory moved to Sèvres.
Sèvres: In 1756 the factory of Vincennes relocated to Sèvres, a village near Versailles close to the château of Bellevue, owned by Madame de Pompadour (1721-64) the mistress of Louis XV and an important patron. In 1759 Louis XV took over complete financial control of the factory. A goldsmith, Jean-Claude Duplessis (c.1695-1774) was appointed as the artistic director of sculpture. The factory’s products were strongly influenced by the designs of François Boucher (1703-70), whose graceful, rococo style superseded imitations of Meissen and Asian porcelain.
In 1769 Sèvres began producing hard-paste porcelain, following the discovery of kaolin at Saint-Yrieix, near Limoges, in 1765. Although restrictions on the establishment of porcelain factories in France were relaxed to encourage the development of hard-paste porcelain, Sèvres retained its royal patronage and excusive right to produce sculptural, multi-coloured and gilded porcelain. The factory was nationalized in 1793, following the abolition of the monarchy, and is still in existence today.
Coloured grounds: rose pompadour, bleu celeste, bleu lapis. Inkstand: 1758, soft paste, green ground, decorated with cherubs, gilding-likely made for daughter of Louis XV, Mme Adelaide—crown once contained bell; terrestrial globe-ink; celestial globe contained sand-sprinkled through holes to dry ink on page-little cameo of Louis XV on side. Wallace Collection (London-collected Sevres especially with aristocrats fleeing Revolution). 19th c. under Alexander Broignart, factory abandons soft paste for hard. More "high-tech," clean, industrial, imitate any material: virtuosity and luxury. Soft paste examples from ancien regime highly sought after by wealthy reliving fantasy of past.

German Porcelain

German Porcelain: First "true" or hard paste porcelain produced in Europe 1709 under Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland by goldsmith and alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger. Initial experiments produce high-fire red stoneware, could be carved, polished. Often based on designs by Johann Jakob Irminger for metalwares. Böttger discovers use of kaolin to make true porcelain paste ("arcanum"—see great book, The Arcanum by Janet Gleeson). Meissen factory employs 500 people by end of century. Unpainted blanks smuggled out or sold to be decorated by independent artists--Hausmaler tradition ("house painters").
Most important Meissen designer Johann Joachim Kandler--creates numerous table figures based on Italian comedy (commedia dell'arte—stock characters wealthy merchant Pantaloon, beautiful Columbine, jester Harlequin) and pastoral shepherd groups (after French painters Watteau, Boucher), heraldic animals decorate Japanese palace of Augustus (large, difficult to fire, often cracked—based on actual animal studies), Swan service for Count von Bruhl. Johann Gregor Horroldt--major painter, develops overglaze colours (1669-1775) Porcelain also produced in Nymphenburg (Swiss modeler, Franz Anton Bustelli), Berlin, Vienna.
The first European hard-paste porcelain factory was founded in 1710 in Dresden by decree of Augustus II (1670-1733), King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, as a result of the successful porcelain experiments of Johann Friedrich Böttger (1682-1719), and Ehrenfried Walther, Count von Tschirhausen (1651-1708). Following Böttger’s death, the factory was administered by Johann Melchior Steinbrück, who appointed Johann Gregor Höroldt (1696-1775) as manager of the decorators’ workshop.
After 1731, the factory was directed by a treasury board, under the presidency of the king. In 1733, the factory came under the direction of Heinrich, Count von Brühl (1700-63), with whose patronage the outstanding modeler Johann Friedrich Kändler (1706-75) developed the medium of small-scale sculpture in European porcelain. The factory was disastrously affected by the Seven Years War (1756-63), and fell gradually into decline and financial hardship, reviving in the late 19th century. The factory survives today.
Overglaze enamels: Under the direction of Johann Höroldt, Meissen greatly expanded the color palette available for decoration. First a piece of porcelain would be fired to high temperature On on top of this hard, fired surface, overglazes would be applied. Overglaze colors are very low temperature glazes, mixtures of glass, lead, binder, and pigment. The lead acts as a flux, melting the glass at a very low temperature (around 1300° F). The binder used was often a thick (very toxic, turpentine-based) oil, which would allow the overglaze to 'stick' to the glazed surface.
During the firing the oil would burn away, leaving the melted glaze sitting on top of the previously fired high temperature glaze. Pigments used were the usual oxides of iron, cobalt, copper, manganese, antimony, and chrome. By blending and mixing these colors, Höroldt was able to create a rich and nuanced palette of colors with which to work. The main advantage of overglazing is that colors that cannot be achieved at porcelain temperatures can be attained at this lower temperature. The main disadvantage is their relative impermanence. Abrasion will cause the color to wear away.

European Porcelain

Hard Paste porcelain: original formula, developed in China under T'ang—vitrified mixture of kaolin (low iron, high alumina clay, china stone—quarz, mica and feldspar). Glazes include lime, feldspar—fires at about 1300C.
Soft Paste porcelain: ("pate tendre") low clay content, high quartz, glass frit, lime or gypsum—fires lower (1240 C or lower)—not as strong, slumps, cracks, but beautiful effects with glazes—used in France 18th c (Sevres) and Britain (Bow, Chelsea etc.).
Hard paste porcelain (“true porcelain”) consists of a “triaxial” blend of quartz, feldspar and kaolin. Fired at 1300 C, a dense vitreous body with an iron content less than 1% results in a white, translucent and very strong porcelain. Soft-paste porcelain is produced by a very different method, which was in common use around Paris by the mid-18th century. Soda ash, sea salt, potassium nitrate, silica and lime (or gypsum) were milled together and heated for 30 or more hours to form a white opaque product. The alkali and quartz react to produce an alkali silicate glass using a sintering technique very similar to that used since the 10th c. to make maiolica and faience glazes.
After 1750, calcined alum was added to provide a further source of potassia and alumina. The mixture was washed to remove any un-reacted alkali, as soluble alkali would migrate to the surface and cause blemishes. The sinter was milled wet and combined with 16.5% white limestone and 8.3% washed, decanted calcareous marl clay from Argenteuil, which added plasticity. This mixture was dried, wedged and stored for several months to ferment organic constituents and to improve plasticity. In this state, the material could be moulded.
However, to throw the material, black soap and parchment glue were added to increase green strength. Thrown ware was trimmed in the bone-dry rather than leather-hard state. This created dust that was very dangerous to the lungs. Soft-paste wares were fired for periods of up to 90 hours at temperatures of about 1240 C or lower. Soft-paste porcelains are generally twice-fired; lead- alkai-silicate, lead-silicate or lead-borosilicate glazes are applied to biscuit wares and re-fired to a lower temperature (Ceramic Masterpieces, Kingery and Vandiver).

Bone china: developed by Josiah Spode c. 1800--up to 50% bone ash, equal parts china clay, feldspar--ideal for casting, economical. By 1825, used extensively in Britain. Bisqued at around 1250C, then glazed and refired at around 1080C. Used lead-borosilicate glaze.
Wedgwood's cream ware/pearlware: Improved existing earthenware body after 1763--refined ball clay, calcined flint (pure silica withstands higher temperature), china stone/ china clay. Glazes lead-soda. cobalt added to glaze after 1779 to produce pearlware.
The first porcelain in Europe: In Florence, Grand Duke Francesco de'Medici (died 1587) was recorded in 1575 as having found the secret of making porcelain after years of trials and experiment. This is generally considered the first European porcelain, although the body and glaze are in fact based on Near Eastern and maiolica techniques. The paste formula and the high temperatures required in the firing kilns were difficult to achieve, and the project proved extremely costly: after Francesco's death, production dwindled.

German Salt Glaze

Germany: Salt-Glaze: Rhineland early centre of Roman occupation, pottery traditions. Large scale production by 7th c.; kiln improvements in 9th made for tougher wares. Stoneware (steinzeug) produced between 1000-1200 CE—first in Europe (China: 500 BCE). Area favoured with wood supply, stoneware clays, river transport, population base, bronze-working traditions. Developments relate to brewing industry—introduce hops c. 1500—big upsurge in beer consumption requires hygienic, sturdy wares. Canette--in Germany, short fat pint; Schnelle: ("fast")--tall, tapering mug; Bellarmines (face modelled on neck—satirize Cardinal opposed to drinking).
By the sixteenth century workshops in Siegburg, Raren, Cologne and elsewhere were producing highly artistic wares applied with moulded decoration of mythological and biblical scenes, often based on contemporary engravings, or naturalistic foliate ornament, political images and armorial devices. Siegburg was renowned for the production of an almost white stoneware with delicately modelled relief decoration in the Renaissance style. Merchants from Cologne were granted licence from 1570 to transport and sell Siegburg stoneware to merchants in Hamburg.
Salt glaze--at stoneware temperatures (1100-1200C), salt added to kiln decomposes to form sodium oxide and hydrogen chloride—released as (noxious) gas—sodium fluxes with silica and aluminum in pot surface, forms tough, thin, shiny glaze--colour based on reduction/oxidization and iron content of clay. Salt firings on this scale environmentally bad: chlorine gases unhealthy. (note: many contemporary studio potters use salt glaze, but on a much smaller scale, in which case the environmental effects are less concerning.) Salt glaze likely produced by 1400s, but first dated ware 1539. Control by trade unions, foreigners only for menial tasks, limit supply.
Defining characteristics of Salt Glaze: use of molds; originals cut in fine sandstone, impressions taken in pipe clay--double negative (to protect original mold)--crisp, detailed. Clay mined from shafts, salt imported from Low Countries (used to salt Newfoundland cod). Wares wheel-thrown, profiles crisped up with templates, bone tools. Colour added—"scratch blue" cobalt frit (smalt) rubbed into incised lines. Production of wares stimulated by improvements in beer (addition of hops). Potteries disrupted by Thirty years war (1618-48), relocate. Main centres: Seigburg—throw marks, pie crust foot, elaborate modelled friezes based on engravings, developing print culture, white-burning clays. Raeren brown salt-glaze imitated bronze, often friezes modelled, pious inscriptions around waists.
Jan Emens Mennicken active 1566-1594--best-known-classical scenes, nudes, festival and religious scenes. Wares widely exported. Koln: early centre, dark chestnut pots—dispute with potters; they move to Freschen. Kannenbacherland--land of potters--in Westerwald where potters fled to avoid war—produced Seigburg-style wares—grey or blue-grey, intricate engravings, pious sayings—eventually more geared towards colour (fashions change).
Kreussen (Bavaria): most elaborate, costly salt-glaze—inspired by/compete with maiolica, overglaze enamels—colourful, popular 1620-1750. Salt-glaze wore silverware down, eventually replaced by maiolica, creamwares in 18th c.

More on Tin Glaze

Netherlands: tiles, pottery first made at Antwerp by Italian émigré potters 16th c. --closely related to Italian traditions. Founding of VOC (Dutch East India Company) introduced Chinese porcelain--Dutch compete with Delftware--get boost from collapse of Ming. Potters admitted to Guild of St. Luke on basis of painting skill--often copy engravings, portraits, landscape, figural works, genre--use quality clays, industrial methods to produce quality product. Tiles popular in kitchens on walls (Spanish, Italians had used on floors)--hygienic, easy to clean.
Flower holders specially designed to accommodate tulips--pyramid shape, interlocking parts with water holders, spout-shaped necks for blooms--pyramids symbolized the “glory of the Prince” (in Emblem tradition--Caesare Ripa)--also called to mind Roman/Egyptian obelisks, Chinese pagodas. Most exuberant examples produced by van Eenhorn family with Adrien Kocks--popular for funerals, weddings, all sorts of celebrations, display. First mentioned in household inventories of wealthy between 1654-1668. Popularized with English court with accession to throne of William and Mary (Glorious Revolution, 1688--Mary huge fan of blue and white porcelain, Delftware.)
Tin-glazed earthenwares had been imported into England from the Mediterranean from the 13th century. They were called galleywares, probably because they were imported on ships. In 1567 Jaspar Andries and Jacob Janson (dates unknown) arrived in England from Antwerp, and in 1571 they applied for permission to establish a maiolica pottery in London, and helped to introduce the tin-glaze technique to England. It involved coating fired earthenware with a layer of glaze that was opacified with oxides of tin. The resulting fragile white surface was ideal for decoration with colours that were fired at the same time as the glaze. This style of pottery, which had spread all over Europe from Italy, is now known as delftware. There were three principal centres for the production of delftware in England in the 17th and 18th centuries: London, Bristol and Liverpool. (Gar.)
England: John Stow’s Survey of London 1603 reports religious refugees from Antwerp making Delftware in London--also made floor tiles, “apothecaries” (drug jars, albarellos, mortar and pestles etc.) Tin-glaze produced in Aldgate (East Anglia) and Southwark (London) by Flemish potters early 17th to late 18th c. --hard to tell Dutch and other foreign examples. Lambeth, Bristol other important centres--exported to Indies, Americas. Many potteries small family businesses; produced figures, decorated plates, puzzle jugs, candle holders etc.--tendency to chip limited use--surviving objects usually for display. Eventually replaced by Staffordshire creamwares late in 18th c.

Bernard Palissy

Bernard Palissy (1510-1590): Amateur scientist, theologian (Hugenot), potter, artist--invented ways of casting from life, developed innovative glazes based on tin and lead. Faced religious persecution most of his life but also produced wares for aristocracy--grottos (for Anne de Montmorency, Catherine de Medici), “rustic wares” (often snakes, crayfish, turtles, lizards, seashells, in marshy environment on large oval basins, platters--also pitchers). Naturalistic grottos actually contain complex allegories of his faith.
Bernard Palissy - artisan to kings, writer, savant, philosopher, lecturer, naturalist, religionist, scientist, and discoverer - was born in 1510. His father was probably an artisan because Palissy was able to draw and paint, skills that were often passed from father to son. A talented student, Palissy learned the arts of portraiture, stained-glass painting, cartography and possibly glassmaking. In the latter 1530s, Palissy settled in Saintes, a small town in southwestern France about sixty-five miles north of Bordeaux. There he married and raised his family of six children. Around 1539 or 1540, he was introduced to ceramics, an event that changed his life. He devoted the next decade to studying and developing a range of white enamel and coloured, lead-based glazes. This was no simple task, as little or nothing was known about chemistry, firing techniques or kilns.
Many colours burnt out while others under-fired. Finding technology that allowed a number of colours to be used on a single piece required extraordinary patience, method and constant experimentation. He and his family were often near starvation.
By about 1550, Palissy developed his "figulines rustiques," or rustic ware style of ceramics (the representation of pond life in naturalistic settings), for which he became renowned. He moulded his subjects: snakes, lizards, frogs, shells, fish, insects, leaves, and ferns--from actual specimens, colouring them with elaborate, multi-coloured glazes. His unique work soon attracted wealthy and powerful patrons, including the high constable Anne de Montmorency, the most powerful man in France next to the king.
France during this time was wracked by religious strife between Catholics and Protestants. In late 1562, the town of Saintes was pillaged by Catholic troops. Palissy's workshop was ravaged by a frenzied mob, his pottery was destroyed and he was arrested. He was saved from execution only by the intervention of Anne de Montmorency and the king, Charles IX. He was appointed Potter to the King and set about designing a garden grotto for Catherine de Medici's Palace de Tuilleries, on the site of the former tileworks. The project was abandonned in 1572 when religious strife again tore through France. Unfortunately, nothing remains of the grotto, but remnants of his studio were found during excavations at the Louvre in the mid-1980s.
Fearing for his life, Palissy left Paris for Sedan, where he continued to make ceramics and study natural history. Encouraged by the Peace of La Rochelle in 1573, he traveled to Paris and invited other scholars, philosophers, scientists and physicians to meet in free discussion. Palissy held the first open lectures on natural history ever delivered in Paris. Around 1576 or 1577 Palissy returned there to live. He continued to be persecuted for his faith and was imprisoned in the Bastille in 1588, where he died at the age of 80, having refused an offer of freedom in return for reverting to Catholicism. He continued to be a figure of speculation and interest, spawning many followers. The highpoint of interest in Palissy came in the 19th c., when interest in natural history and decorative arts led to a revival of Palissy ware.

European Tin Glaze

Origins of European Tin-Glaze from Muslim technology Hispano-Moresque: Cordoba centre of Western world during Ummayad period (CE 756-1031). Around 1000, potters began to use tin-glaze on biscuit-fired pots. Lustres applied on third fire. Real upsurge in 13th c. as potters flee Mongol advance and come to Spain. Moslems reduced to southern Spain--cross-fertilization with Christian potters. Wares made at Malaga (Andalusia) and Valencia under Islamic influence. Later, Mudejar style (1450-1700) under Christian rule--fusion of Islamic and Gothic traditions. Often cobalt and lustre patterns--leaves, vines arranged in registers used on albarellos (drug jars)--Portinari Altar by Hugo van der Goes (1478). Crisp profiles, elaborate presentation, communal dining wares--exported in large quantities to Italy in Majorcan ships--possible origin of term Maiolica. Talavera de la Reina in central Spain popularized white glaze as “appetizing.” Royal patronage sent group to Mexico to start tradition.
The Islamic tradition of lustred earthenware was introduced into Europe in the workshops of Malaga, in Islamic southern Spain. By around 1400, the Christian region of Valencia had become the major centre of production. Large quantities were exported to Italy, particularly to the wealthy families of Tuscany, many of whom had trading links with Valencia. Many Italian families commissioned lustreware painted with their arms. Manises is a suburb of Valencia. Some of the finest lusterware ever produced was made here in the 14th and 15th centuries. These pieces incorporated Gothic motifs into Muslim designs, using Muslim technology, and are referred to as mudejares (or mudejar) style.
Italy: Wares from Islamic countries imported from early date--began to use tin-glaze themselves around 1300. Extensive trade between Tuscany and Barcelona. Valencia introduces mudejar style. Early maiolica very decorative—often oak leaf shape in raised, runny cobalt glaze on tin-glaze surface, heraldic animals—found on bulbous 2-handled drug jars. Major pottery centres develop at Castle Durante, Deruta, Cafaggiola, Faenza. Painters apply mineral paints to tin-glaze using popular prints, paintings as motifs--style called istoriato (historiated--narrative subjects)--mythological, religious, patriotic, popular images in orange, yellow, blue, manganese, purple/brown.
Lustres first made at Deruta--possibly introduced by Islamic potters fleeing Christian advance in Spain—only made at a few centres. Cipriano Piccolpasso wrote Three Books of the Potter’s Art—major source of textual and visual references to pottery techniques of the day. Major work produced by largest ateliers—required real skill, division of labour to decorate and fire properly (lots of wasters)--lead poisoning a real occupational hazard. Istoriato goes out of favour with Baroque—often are monochrome blue or yellow with grotesques--called Faience in France (after Faenza).
Religious wars/Reformation saw potters locating north, east --spread tin-glaze to Netherlands, Central Europe (Anabaptists/Haban wares), England. France, Germany, Netherlands. Duc de Berry (owned Très Riches Heures) brought potters from Spain to produce tin-glaze in 1432. Muslim potters fleeing Catholic inquisition come also to southern France--early French wares resemble Italian closely. Traditional maiolica (faience) called “in-glaze” as colours painted on unfired glaze and fuse with it. Covered with coperta (Italian) or kwaart (Dutch)--transparent lead glaze enhances brilliance, seals surface. Range of wares produced in emulation/competition with Chinese porcelain--tureens, stove tiles, decorative plates.

Notes on Islamic Ceramics

Arabic Alphabet and numerals
The Arabic alphabet is written from right to left and consists of twenty-eight letters which are created from seventeen different letter shapes. In modern Arabic dots above and below letters help to distinguish them from each other. In early Arabic these dots were frequently omitted. Many of the letters change their shape depending on where they are situated within a word. Arabic numerals were developed in India in the fifth century AD and spread with Islam, replacing Roman numerals. In the ingenious Indo-Arabic method, any quantity could be represented by figures using a decimal point. The numerals, unlike the alphabet, are written from left to right. Their shapes have evolved over the centuries.
Arabic scripts
Following the revelation of Islam in the seventh century AD, Arabic was established as the language and script of the Muslim empire. Muslims must learn the Qur'an in its original Arabic. Therefore Arabic spread with Islam and was eventually used to write languages such as Persian (Iran), Urdu (India and Pakistan), Dari (Afghanistan), Ottoman Turkish (until 1928) and the languages of Indonesia and Malaysia (until recently). There are many different styles of Arabic scripts.
Kufic developed around the end of the seventh century in Kufa, Iraq (from which it takes its name) and other centres. Until about the eleventh century it was the main script used to copy Qur'ans. The simple and elegant forms were embellished over time. There are several variations on kufic script. It was particularly useful for decorative tile work and inscriptions.
As the decorative potential of Kufic was increasingly exploited, it became ever more difficult to read and was gradually abandoned for general use during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Rounded scripts were used since early Islamic times for everyday writing on papyrus for example, whereas Kufic was reserved for more formal public texts.
Naskh is the 'copyists' hand mainly used from the twelfth century for writing government documents and also for copying the Qur'an.
As the decorative potential of Kufic was increasingly exploited, it became ever more difficult to read and was gradually abandoned for general use during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Rounded scripts were used since early Islamic times for everyday writing on papyrus for example, whereas Kufic was reserved for more formal public texts.
Naskh is the 'copyists' hand mainly used from the twelfth century for writing government documents and also for copying the Qur'an.
First major Dynasty, Umayyad, centred in Syria (Damascus)—replaced by Abbasid, who move capital from Mediterranean and Classical influence to Middle Eastern capital at Baghdad. With fall of Umayyad, Egyptian potters bring technology of lead-based glazes to Baghdad—city rivals Constantinople for richness, elegance, sophistication. Harun al-Rashid (r. 786-809) in contact with Charlemagne in West and with T’ang Dynsasty in East. Tin-glaze invented to imitate Chinese porcelain.
The Abbasid made white vessels with simple decoration applied in blue were exported to China, where they inspired a new tradition of ‘blue-on-white’. Today this is perhaps the most characteristic ceramic style associated with China, but originally the Chinese did not know the cobalt-blue pigment, which they called ‘Muhammadan blue’. Over the centuries, this ‘blue-on-white’ tradition brought Europe ‘chinoiserie’ (again through the medium of the eastern Islamic lands – the Safavids were very keen on it!), and ultimately the ubiquitous ‘willow pattern’ (Ashmolean).
Islamic Lustre: Forms based on everyday utilitarian wares. Beauty is in the decoration--long-standing traditions of well-executed designs. All Islamic wares earthenware (including faience/fritware). Tin added to lead glaze to opacify white surface in emulation of imported T’ang Dynasty stonewares, Yuan and later porcelains. First use of cobalt, but design blurs in lead glaze. Lustre requires 2-3 firings: biscuit, tin-glaze, then low-fire (muffle kiln) lustre.

Lustre is mixture of metal oxide plus ochre. Under reduction, thin layer of pure metal deposited on surface. Ochre burnished to remove it. Islamic custom forbade use of gold or silver plates at table--lustreware next best thing. Difficult to control; only certain centres capable of producing it. Technology possibly derives from Egyptian glass making. Samarra: outside Baghdad, Abbasid capital--floral, geometric patterns, exported around Islamic world including Spain.
Production moves from Baghdad to Cairo (Fatimid court) to Spain, to Persia (Kashan wares)--widely traded. Kashan 25 miles south of Tehran, major centre, high technical and aesthetic standards. Lustre applied to artificial body (included glass frit) from 10th to 14th c. White body didn’t require masking slip or tin glaze. Can trace genealogies of potters for 400 years. Survived Mongol invasion because Mongolians liked fine crafts.
Other Iranian/Persian centres at Rayy (often on blue background), Gurgan (huge cache of wares hidden from Mongols in 1221—town decimated—rediscovered in 1942.) Seljuk Turks improved faience body--manual written 1301 discusses addition of quartz pebbles, potash frit and borax to imitate qingbai porcelains. Polychrome wares include minai (overglaze, designs based on manuscripts), haft-rang (over and underglaze colurs). Lustre tiles very popular for mosques, tombs.