Images of cats from the British Museum collection, £9.99
Diameter: 14.500 inches
Gift of Sir A.W. Franks
Room 46: Europe 1400-1800
Maiolica portrait dish
Probably from Haarlem, Holland, AD 1583
Maiolica is a tin-glazed earthenware. A glaze containing tin oxide produces an opaque brilliant white surface. It hides the coloured clay and produces a surface similar to porcelain, and can be decorated. Tin-glazed earthenware in Europe is commonly known as maiolica, faience or Delftware, according to where it was made.
This dish is attributed to the workshop of Cornelis Lubberts in Haarlem. In the sixteenth century, immigrant Italian potters spread the styles and techniques of painted maiolica into the Southern Netherlands; Antwerp was established as a major centre of production by around 1510. By the 1580s Haarlem had become the main tin-glaze centre in the Northern Netherlands, producing pottery with sophisticated decoration inspired by Italian prototypes. The border decoration on this dish is based on contemporary Venetian designs, which incorporate bold fruit and flowers, while the central medallion, containing a woman in contemporary costume, is a continuation of the tradition of painted portraits on maiolica.
By the beginning of the seventeenth century, the town of Delft had emerged as the principal pottery centre, eventually dominating the market in the production of tin-glazed earthenware decorated with motifs based on Chinese blue-and-white porcelain.
This dish is attributed to the workshop of Cornelis Lubberts of Haarlem; the reverse is inscribed '1583-10 / Januarii' and the monogram 'LC'.
T. Wilson, Ceramic art of the Italian Ren, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1987)