Continental Pottery - Part 2

Dutch tin-glazed pottery, known by the name of the town of Delft where it became established eventually, was made in great quantities and much was sent to England. Not only was there a big trade in dishes and other domestic wares, but Dutch tiles were sent also. These were of sufficient importance to become a separate branch of pottery-making; some men made them to the exclusion of all else, and sets of tiles were painted to be placed together and form pictures.

Germany, also, had numerous potteries making tin-glazed wares, and those of Hamburg, Frankfurt, Hanau and Bayreuth were outstanding centres; the first- named, together with Nuremburg, being noted for making the great glazed and decorated pottery stoves used for heating rooms in many Continental countries. Much of the output resembled the earthenware being made elsewhere at the time, and much remains confused with contemporary English and Dutch work. Many German and Swiss potters made lead-glazed wares with slip and sgraffito decoration; much of it inscribed and dated. There were big centres for the making of stoneware at Cologne and Siegburg, the latter near Bonn. Much of the output was decorated elaborately with impressed patterns, and a large quantity of be liar mines was made; these are jugs with fat bodies and short thin necks, the head of a bearded man impressed on the front.

Bernard Palissy, whose life-span embraced almost the whole of the sixteenth century, made dishes and other pieces modelled with lizards, shells, leaves and fishes. The clay of which these are made is whitish, and Palissy and his followers covered it effectively with coloured transparent glazes. It is said that 'no class of pottery has been so widely copied for fraud'.

The white lead-glazed earthenware of St Porchaire was decorated in an unusual manner by impressing it in patterns with small metal stamps and filling the marks with coloured clays. This small sixteenth-century pottery has had a chequered literary history, and a century ago was the subject of speculation and bitter argument among experts; first stated to have been at Lyons, then at Beauvais, and again Oiron, it has been decided that it was actually located at St Porchaire, north of Bordeaux. Only just over sixty pieces of the ware survive, and most of them are in museums. It has been faked, and the English Minton factory made exact copies of known examples.

Other French potters were affected closely by Italian work, but by the seventeenth century the factory at Rouen was making a tin-glazed majolica of character with decoration in red and blue. Potteries at Marseilles, Moustiers, Strasbourg, and elsewhere shortly became prominent, and today French faience is recognized as having a distinction of its own that rivals porcelain. It was well made and well painted, the shapes were interesting and often strikingly unusual.

The Swedish potteries at Marieberg and Rorstrand made excellent wares in original shapes with fine decoration towards the end of the eighteenth century. At about the same date a Norwegian factory at Herreboe made some equally interesting pieces. Productions from these factories are rare outside Scandinavia.

All types of wares were made in Portugal, but most are indistinguishable from those of Spain, Italy and Holland. A century ago, a pottery was founded at Caldas da Rainha by Manuel Mafra, and has made imitations of Palissy-ware and other colour-glazed pieces ever since. Some bear the maker's mark, others do not.

Collectable Antiques: