HISPANO-MORESQUE LUSTRE CHARGER
This shimmering large lustre charger is covered in creamy-white tin glaze and painted in blue and brown copper lustre. The brim, the well and the central raised medallion are divided by thick and solid brown lines with additional thin lines parallel to them. The centre of the charger is painted with a bird surrounded by flowers. The outer circle of the medallion is moulded with radiating concaved lines painted in brown, alternating with blue lines. The well has lozenge shaped ‘network’ patterns alternating with ‘tree and flower-head’ patterns all painted in brown. The sloping brim has moulded fish painted in blue, outlined and some further decorated in brown. Using fish as a decorative element is uncommon in Hispano-Moresque objects, which makes this charger a unique example. The fish are surrounded by brown flowers and leaves. The design on the reverse, painted all in brown copper-lustre, is typical of the sixteenth century; it is painted with a central rosette surrounded by concentric circles, the reverse of the brim has fern leaves and whorls. The dish has a hole on the rim, designed for hanging.
The techniques of lustre and opaque white tin-glaze, both originated from the Middle East, were brought to the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century during the Umayyad conquest. The lustre technique uses paint that contains silver and copper ions, resulting in the shiny and metallic look in ceramics after firing. The opaque white tin-glaze imitates the white colour of Chinese porcelain, which was considered a luxurious commodity in the medieval period. Although Islamic characteristics can still be observed on pottery produced in al-Andalus in the 13th century, local potters have developed an extensive set of decorative vocabulary native to Spain by the 15th century. This includes not only animal and vegetal designs, but also shields of arms from prominent families for products that were custom made. Spanish lustreware reached its height between the 14th-16thcentury, evidenced by an explosive range of highly sophisticated designs. This charger is a very rare late example of lustreware in this region, as religious expulsion and Renaissance impacted later production to shift focus on Europeanised figural representations.
British Museum, London (G.546 and 1913,1220.123).
Musée National Du Moyen Âge (Cl.9625)
Anthony Ray, Spanish Pottery 1248-1898, with a Catalogue of the Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum (London: V&A Publications, n.d.)