The reconstructed collection of Ferdinand Columbus, £18.00
Width: 16.000 cm (large tiles)
Height: 15.500 cm
Enlightenment: Ancient scripts
Tiles from the Alhambra
Spanish, mid-14th century AD
From the Alhambra Palace, Granada, Spain
These tiles with inscriptions in Arabic came from the floor of Salón de Comares in the Alhambra Palace. They are from the first two phases of installation and refurbishment. One group is decorated in lustre and belongs to the original installation of 1354. These were made either in Granada or in Malaga, the main centre of ceramic production at this time. But they were very worn by 1492 (the conquest of Granada) and were replaced with cuerda seca tiles in the same pattern. These in turn were replaced in 1589 with the tiles in place today.
The main motif of the square tiles is an inscription in Arabic that translates as 'There is no victor except God'. This was the motto of the Nasrid rulers of Spain (1232-1492) and is also found carved in stucco in the Alhambra Palace.
The tiles were acquired by the sculptor Anne Seymour Damer (1749-1828) while she was visiting Granada in 1791. She donated them to the British Museum in 1802. Damer was very impressed by the Alhambra. In a letter to Mary Berry, she wrote 'What the Alhambra has been it is still easy to see and it is still admirable, but miserably ruined, out of all repair, neglected… There cannot be a greater admirer of the Moorish style for the inside of houses than I am. Were I a great king in a fine climate I should copy it for my palace …'
A.W. Frothingham, Lustreware of Spain (New York, 1951)
A. Caiger-Smith, Lustre Pottery: Technique, Tra (London, Faber and Faber, 1985)
W.S. Lewis (ed, Horace Walpoles Correspondence (Yale University Press, 1937-1983)