Early Spanish Pottery

Updated on March 9, 2018
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Ancient art and architecture isn't only for historians, but for people like us who’ve always been interested in anything olden and periodic.

The art of pottery making was transmitted to the Spanish Caliphate in Cordova around the 9th and 10th century. They were admired by both royalty and the affluent and was soon adopted and produced by the Spaniards, with Granada and Valencia becoming the centre of ceramic ware production.

The Spanish translation of the art of pottery making showed a great improvement and refinement over the earlier ‘imported’ foreign styles, and for the first time in the whole of Europe, pottery enhancements like tin glazes were used to create a bright and lustrous finish.

Ceramic ware and pottery from early Spanish styles
Ceramic ware and pottery from early Spanish styles | Source

Best Known Examples

The Hispano-Mauresque is one of the best-known examples of Spanish ceramic ware. With its lustrous finish, these earthenware pottery were formed as tall amphora-shaped vases and known as Alhambra. Other pieces produced include large food platters inscribed with the Cost of Arms of Spanish royalty.

Today, the art of ceramic production with the Hispano-Mauresque lustre is still carried on, and it is still based on traditional forms and styles.

Vases were designed with Arabic inscriptions, arabesques, and in rare cases, some stylish animal forms. They possessed an unusual iridescence and lustre, and by the 14th to the 15th century, the beauty of Spanish ceramics was bespoke as its production reached its peak.

16th Century Spain Yields Ceramic Prominence to Italy

By the 16th century, Spain lost its pottery prominence to Italian potters' styles but pottery kilns close to the Toledo region and those in Talavera de la Reina continued to produce beautiful household objects and pretty Spanish tiles.

Objects were decorated with scenes from their own era and lovely figural forms with colour combinations of blue/white, ochre/blue, or in brown, green, white, and blue.

18th Century Spanish Ceramics

Throughout the 18th century, fine pottery made in Faience, Italy came in form of a glazed biscuit ware and the name faience is now popularly applied to many such decorative ceramic wares. The Spanish potters soon adopted the styles which were mainly tableware inspired by French art styles with features and themes characteristic of the Spanish.

Spanish wall tiles made in Catalonia were enhanced with themes of gaiety and paintings of sportsmen, amusements, dancing scenes or artwork showing humorous pictures of bullfights, incidents associated with Don Quixote, or images showing people drinking newly discovered beverages.

And in the churches, ceramic artworks were used in forms of decorative tiles that were painted with religious themes. These were used as altar décor in churches.

Catalonia, Spain

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Faïence, 40990 Herm, France

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Pottery Made for the Peasants

There were many small-scale local potters located in the southern regions of Spain that made pottery exclusively for the peasants. The wares produced include ornamental bowls, plates and water pitchers. Walls were lavishly decorated with lots of different shapes and sizes of ornamental plates, a common feature that was associated with the interior décor of the time.

Up till the present day, Spanish water jars still maintain the same designs of the ancient pottery works created over two thousand years ago.

And up to some few years ago, the ceramics carried by donkeys in the regional districts contributed tremendously to the beautiful picturesque landscape of countryside Spain, one that distinctly shows an outsider a touch of Spain.

Questions & Answers

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      • artsofthetimes profile imageAUTHOR


        6 months ago

        You are welcome :)

      • profile image


        7 months ago

        Thankks it was great and it was useful

      • profile image


        4 years ago

        At last! Someone with the insight to solve the probmel!

      • artsofthetimes profile imageAUTHOR


        7 years ago

        Thank you so much SanneL, for your visit AND for your nice comments and ratings.

        The vibrant colours of Spanish ceramics stands out beautifully than so many others. That's what i so much love about them.

        Blessings SanneL

      • artsofthetimes profile imageAUTHOR


        7 years ago

        Thank you so much SanneL, for your visit AND for your nice comments and ratings.

        The vibrant colours of Spanish ceramics stands out beautifully than so many others. That's what i so much love about them.

        Blessings SanneL

      • SanneL profile image


        7 years ago from Sweden

        Well-written and interesting hub!

        I love the traditional and colorful style of the Spanish pottery. Thank you for sharing your great insight on the fascinating history of the Spanish ceramics.

        Voted up and interesting!


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