From Mallorca to Staffordshire




Let's look at a slightly different material this week.


In the Moorish time, North African potters made a beautiful tin-glazed earthenware on the island of Mallorca. This found its way to Italy during the time of the Renaissance, and as this was an era when people got very interested in Classical stories (Renaissance means "rebirth", and this referred to the Classical culture and mythology), the Italians decorated their pottery with all kinds of stories: biblical as well as mythological. The pottery was called "maiolica", after Mallorca - but another name was "istoriato", which very fittingly means "with stories".


Maiolica became a huge trend and today you can still find lots of wonderful pieces from the last 500 years in auction houses. I have two massive chargers here that were made in the 19th Century and have wonderful images of Venus and Neptune, with lots of horses, chariots, hippocampi, putti and dolphins.


Maiolica then found its way north: Faience in France (named after the Italian city of Faenza where it was made before it travelled to France), Delft in The Netherlands (named after the city of Delft where most of it was made) and, after a long period of English Delftware, majolica in Staffordshire.

Majolica was made first by Minton, where it was developed under the guidance of their French Art Director Léon Arnoux. He brought in-depth knowledge about faience from his native France. His experiments were first exhibited at the Great Exhibition in Crystal Palace in 1851 and immediately became a huge hit; Minton went on to develop a broad line of colourful majolica wares. But Minton was not alone: soon many potteries copied Minton and George Jones and Brown-Westhead & Moore in particular became famous for it as well.


You can see several items by the English majolica factories as well: some wonderful tureens and a very cute ink stand.