3 x 19 x 19 in. (8 x 48 x 48 cm)
Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Museum purchase with funds from The Meadows Foundation Fund, MM.89.08
Listen to Brian Molanphy, Associate Professor of Drawing and Ceramics at Southern Methodist University, discuss this work (2:06 minutes)
Hispano-Moresque Charger, c. 1500
by Brian Molanphy, associate professor of drawing and ceramics at Southern Methodist University
This ceramic is a fine example of Iberian lusterware, most of which was produced in Manises, in Valencia, in this period. Like studios of the most accomplished painters of the time, many hands contributed to its production. The clay was formed with the aid of potter's wheel and mold. Note the two drill outs for a cord, or wire, as this pot was intended to be hung for a vertical, rather than horizontal presentation. The charger is already charged, so to speak, it is already full. Instead of a concave well at the center, there is a convex boss, also suggesting the vertical display of this pot, like a medallion. It is also full in the two-dimensional sense. The brushwork exhibits horror vacui or the will of the painter to cover with marks every possible area of a surface. The Latin inscription is posed in an Arabic style of a circle, without apparent beginning or end. The painter painted on an already fired, slick white glaze, painting on glass, which was followed by a third, lower temperature firing. Cameras generally cannot capture the visual effect of metallic reflection of lusterware, so it is best to view it and to move around it in person. This effect is enhanced by the shape of the pot, which is a waveform—convex then concave then convex, from the rim to the boss. Though ceramic painting is generally the most durable kind of painting, luster in particular is relatively fugitive because its reflectivity depends on remaining on top of, rather than melted into, the white glaze. The Meadows charger is well preserved. It is not lackluster.