Images of cats from the British Museum collection, £9.99
Diameter: 34.000 cm
Depth: 6.000 cm
Gift of Sir A.W. Franks
Room 46: Europe 1400-1800
Tin-glazed earthenware dish
From Winterthur, Switzerland, AD 1681
This dish was made in the pottery workshop of the Pfau family in the town of Winterthur. The workshop was among the most important in Switzerland. Ludwig I Pfau (died 1623) and his son Ludwig II (died 1683) were especially noted for the production of dishes with deep wells and wide flat rims, decorated with flowers, fruits and freely-painted figural subjects. On this dish the goddess Fortune, mistress of the sea, is holding a billowing sail and riding a winged globe, symbolizing both the inconstancy of the wind and the range of Fortune's power. The initials 'H.M.' and 'AM.EW' and coats of arms record a marriage of two Zurich families in 1681. On the rim is a pomegranate and a pear, symbolic of fertility.
A glaze containing tin oxide is applied to dark-coloured earthenware bodies to produce an opaque white surface, in imitation of porcelain. The glaze can subsequently be decorated with metal oxide pigments. In Europe this technique had originated in Islamic Spain; it had spread to Italy by the fifteenth century and throughout the northern countries by the late sixteenth century. It is known variously as maiolica, faience or Delftware according to the country of origin.
, Winterthurer Keramik, exh. cat. (Museum Lindengut, Wintherthur, 28 October 1989-15 July 1990)