Art/ Collection/ Art Object


second half 15th century
Spanish, Valencia (probably Manises)
Lusterware. Earthenware, tin-glaze, luster-painted.
Diameter: 15 1/8. (38.4 cm.)
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 950
Vessels of similar shape decorated in golden luster (and often as well in cobalt blue) with the same ivy vine and tendril-floral motif are quite well known. In fact, this pattern became standard in the workshops of Manises, a suburb of Valencia, and an important center for lusterware production in the first half of the fifteenth century.(1) The use of gold luster alone, rather than luster and cobalt, for the ivy leaf with five-petaled flower pattern, as well as the inclusion of the dot-and-stalk motif, help to date this vessel to the latter part of the fifteenth century.(2) The raised boss at the center is embellished with what appears to be a monogram, perhaps to be read as the letter V, presuming that the hole directly above indicates the correct direction. On the exterior of the vessel are concentric circles of auburn-yellow bands of varying thickness that, unlike the interior ornament, do not appear to have been painted in luster. As is typical of Spanish lusterware, the luster decoration has a rather well-preserved iridescent coloring with prismatic or opalescent overtones, primarily red and bronze, that change with the light source. As many wares of this type were commissioned, often for the export market, they frequently bear either coats of arms or monograms. Of the latter the most common is the sacred IHS. However, a contemporary and stylistically related plate in Düsseldorf also bears the monogram V, in this instance enclosed by a shield.(3) Whereas the pierced hole near the rim of the platter, commonly found on vessels of this type, suggests that it may have been used as a wall decoration rather than as a receptacle, such holes also may have been used for the insertion of fire-clay pegs that would have helped keep the pieces upright in the kiln.(4)

Catalogue entry from Linda Komaroff. The Robert Collection. Decorative Arts, Volume XV. Wolfram Koeppe, et al. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Princeton University Press, 2012, pp. 360-361.

1. See Frothingham, Alice Wilson. Lustreware of Spain. Hispanic Notes and Monographs. Peninsular Series. Hispanic Society of America. New York, 1951, p. 127 and p. 79ff. on the evidence for the production of lusterware at Manises. See also Ray, Anthony. Spanish Pottery, 1248 – 1898, with a Catalogue of the Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2000, pp. 58 – 60.
2. See Frothingham, p. 127 and fig. 83, an albarello dated about 1435 – 40, for an earlier example of the ivy leaf pattern rendered in golden luster and cobalt blue. A very similar rendition of the ivy leaf motif also occurs on a slightly later plate in The Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (56.171.129), datable to about 1450 – 68, which bears the coat of arms of Aragon-Sicily. See “Valencian Lusterware of the Fifteenth Century: An Exhibition at The Cloisters.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 29, no. 1 (Summer), 1970, fig. 15. Among these earlier works, it is common for the veins of the leaves to be indicated by scratching through the luster, resulting in a reserved area in white. See also Ray, pp. 83 – 87.
3. See Islamische Keramik. Exhibition, Hetjens-Museum, 1973. Organized in association with the Museum fur Islamische Kunst, Berlin. Catalogue. Dusseldorf, 1973, p. 312, no. 475, and pp. 310 – 11, no. 474, for a stylistically related plate bearing the sacred monogram IHS.
4. Frothingham, p. 198.
Alphonse Kann, Paris; Kann sale, American Art Association, New York, 6-8 January 1927, lot 426, ill.
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