Posts tagged “ceramics

Victoria and Albert: An Urbino Maiolica grotesque

Cipriano Piccolpasso writing on the potter’s art around 1557 observed that ‘grotesques have almost fallen out of use, and I don’t know why; it is a delicate style of painting”.  This maginificent example belies his report.  The central scene wittily alludes to the dish’s function:  it shows the biblical episode when the Children of Israel miraculously receive food from heaven.  Italy, Urbino, 1560-1580, Fontana Workshop, about 2 feet across.

Ceramics at Victoria and Albert (Take Two)

I am reposting this with new, much larger photos. The current size should allow you to retrace (nearly) every pattern in the gallery. (Only a few photos are not clear enough to give that level of detail — on account of the way the object is displayed).

I have been interested in porcelain for some ten years now; and collecting it for the last six; I own two dozen books on the subject and must have read several score; this is my third trip to London since I caught the bug, and my fourth week here on this visit; yesterday was perhaps my twelfth visit to the V&A on this trip alone. How well hidden must therefore the sixth floor collection of porcelain be that I have not until now heard of it? Unheard of, unsung, empty: hardly a visitor at all while wild crowds mill on the floors below. And yet it is easily the largest collection of museum-quality porcelain I have yet been to: ten rooms with two corridors each, with displays running both sides: between six shelves high and three-to-six rows deep. It must be — I don’t know — three linear miles of porcelain? And what pieces! Hah! I was dazed at first and then began to laugh:  who would ever do such a crazy thing?  It seemed impossible. Have I died and gone to heaven? Was I dreaming? Was someone playing a cruel joke on me?

Clickable gallery below and a special friend below that.

And at the end of the gallery I came upon this — an old acquaintance: made in the short-lived Belvedere Porcelain Works in Warsaw, this plate was part of a set sent as a gift from the last king of Poland to the Sultan. It was probably delivered by an ancestor who went on a secret embassy to Istanbul in late 1780’s.