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Collecting Old Continental Pottery
Henri Deux Ware, Etc.
Paris And Its Environs
Glazed Pottery Of France
Stoneware Of Germany
German And Other Guilds
SWEDEN, DENMARK, SWITZERLAND:
Stockholm, Rorstrand, and Marieberg
Delft: The Old Signs Of The Potters
Majolica And Luca Della Robia
Naples, Rimini, Monte Feltro, And Forli
Siena, Monte Lupo, And Pisa
Fabriano, Viterbo, Rome
Venice, Treviso, Bassano, Milan, Etc.
PERSIA AND DAMASCUS:
Persia And Damascus
Persian And Other Tiles
Rhodes, Asiatic Turkey, Etc.
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The Decorative Stoneware called "Gres de Flandres"
For a long period much of the old foreign stoneware has been described in the catalogues as gres de Flandres or Flandre, but Flanders was the province of the Counts of Flanders, which embraced a part of the north-east of France, the southern division of the province of Zealand in Holland, and the two provinces of Belgium which still bear the names East and West Flanders: and the manufacture of fine stoneware extended over a much wider area. Hence neither gres de Flandres nor gres flamands accurately describes the stoneware made in Germany, where the potteries, many in number, employed in their decoration the coats-of-arms of German princes, or legends expressed in various dialects of the German language. Further proof has been furnished by discoveries, not only of countless fragments of ware and of sound vessels, but by the uncovering of the very kilns in which they were fired. The half-tone illustrations of this section deserve attention.
Researches have been conducted at Raeren, near Aix-laChapelle, otherwise Aachen ; at Frechen and Siegburg in the neighbourhood of Cologne; Hohr and Grenzhausen in Westerwald (Nassau), to the east of Coblentz ; Creussen, just south of Bayreuth, in Bavaria, and several other places. Raeren was affected by the political vicissitudes of the Netherlands, which in 1579 formed the Republic of Holland by the union of seven provinces which revolted against Philip II. of Spain. Afterwards Raeren belonged to France, then to Germany, next to Napoleon, and finally to Germany again. The stoneware is usually classed as German, though, in many instances, the designs of Flemish artists and the arms of Flemish families are found upon it. The honours must be shared between Germany and Flanders.
Stoneware or gres cerame is a very hard pottery, with a grain that is very close and compact, rather than fine, composed of sand combined with clay. The old ware was covered either with a lead or a salt glaze, and fired at a very high temperature. If you compare the two glazes, you will perceive how suitable the thin salt glaze is for the purpose of leaving the ornament in sharp relief. The old potters knew this. Hence we find salt glaze is generally used. I need say nothing about the process more than this: the soda in the salt which was thrown into the kiln when the temperature reached the desired point attacked the silica of the clay, and formed with it a glaze-a hard, characteristic glass-in and on the surface of the ware.
The use of a salt glaze is ascribed to these foreign potteries as early as the beginning of the twelfth century, but it was much later when designs in relief were applied. The earliest pieces of stoneware were unglazed, and quite plain. When the glaze was discovered and applied, the ware for a long time remained without ornament of any kind, being simply grey, drab or dull white, or sometimes even brownish in colour. Then when the engraving of wood-blocks for books became familiar by the labours of John Gutenberg (d. 1468) a similar process was applied to the decoration of the stoneware, which during the fourteenth century had no other ornament than crude human heads.
The sixteenth century may be noted as the finest period for moulded decoration. Especially is this true of the second half of the century, for both German and Flemish stonewares of that period are remarkable for the sharpness of the designs. During the next hundred years, the moulds made from carved wood-blocks gradually decreased in artistic value, with here and there a notable exception. Decadence naturally followed, though the moulds have been reproduced in modern times, and serve for the manufacture of many counterfeits in our own days, poor and weak imitations of the beautiful pitchers, jars, jugs, tall flagons, and pots, decorated with masks, figures, and coats-of-arms, executed in the sixteenth century, which are worthily valued and eagerly collected by connoisseurs.
This old stoneware-steinzug-bears a close resemblance to hard porcelain in its composition, except that it is not translucent, though where the substance is exceedingly thin faint light is transmitted. What beautiful ware the German and Flemish potters produced in the sixteenth century can only be realised when we carefully examine many specimens and compare them with the best productions of the English salt-glaze imitators, whose stamped ornaments are largely German or Flemish in style, especially in their earliest wares, which probably owed their origin to John Philip and David Elers, 1690-1710, though it is not certain that these brothers introduced salt-glazing into Staffordshire. I am inclined to the opinion that Dwight's stoneware, 1671, in its porcellaneous character, bore the closest likeness to the hard, colourless gres, covered with a smear of glaze, and both being semivitrified, the similarity is the more exact.
The developments which preceded the introduction of common salt as a glazing material were not peculiar to Germany and Flanders: we find them in our own country. They involved both glaze and ware. The early glazes were produced mainly by powdered galena, a compound of lead and sulphur, or by a glassy substance used less frequently. Also, before 1500, a mixed glaze, whose principal ingredients were soda and oxide of iron, was applied to many dark-brown drinking vessels. Later came the use of red lead, one of the oxides of that metal, and of glazes in which a fusible native silicate such as felspar was the chief constituent. As salt glaze required a very high temperature for its production, the body of the ware was improved, being made of clay difficult of fusion, so refractory as to resist the heat without softening. This improved body became a stoneware. The application of tin enamel as a coating for earthenware may be referred to an earlier date than the use of salt-&lazing, which, on the Rhine and at Limburg, was in operation during the sixteenth century. The province of Limburg is near Raeren. The Raeren ware is all salt-glazed, but that made at Siegburg was not glazed during the early years, only when the pottery had reached perfection. So that when you see in the museums those whitish stoneware pots and drinking vessels without a glaze you may be sure that most of them came from Siegburg, where, as early as the fourteenth century, the manufacture was prosperous, though the earliest dated piece known falls into the second half of the sixteenth century. Again, the brown ware, salt-glazed, from Raeren was made before 1539, a date which appears on two specimens, one of which was dug up on the spot. This brownglazed ware is in a measure characteristic of Raeren, although some dated pieces of the sixteenth century have the greyblue decoration which is so well known.
Two further considerations deserve attention. The Raeren drinking vessels were made in two pieces, each " spun " or " thrown " separately on the potter's wheel, and, afterwards, by means of thin clay, joined together. Vases, too, were formed in the same way. The candles or spindle drinking jugs, the tall flagons of Siegburg, were thrown in one piece, so that they never show the circular joint which can always be detected when the pieces are built up. This important point should be borne in mind. So should the second peculiarity, the thumbing on the foot, which, accompanied as it often is by holes and irregular knobs, is said to be indicative of age. Every one who has seen the thrower at work knows that, in order to detach the form he has completed from the clay base, he takes a piece of copper wire and severs it at and from the base, after which it can be lifted off quite easily. Now, the action of the wire in cutting raises a series of ridges which are separated by depressions, giving an appearance of whorls something like the back of an oystershell. Modern ware would show these markings if the turner did not remove them on the lathe. The old potters did not discover how to cut the ware, so they pulled it from the wheel and then used their hands to restore the vertical shape and to make the base even and flat. Sometimes the whole of the base is marked by the potter's thumb in his endeavours to secure a perfect, level base, and at Siegburg this thumbing on the foot was maintained for some time after the other potteries had employed the wire-cut. The whorls or concentric marks disappeared in time except on Frechen ware, on which they are specially observed, so much so that some think they form a feature pertaining to it. But I have shown that on all wares the wire cut the same kind of whorls.
The researches carried out on various sites, such as those mentioned earlier in this chapter, have removed many doubts as to the origin of the different wares and have established certain facts with regard to their age. Systematic excavations of heaps of rubbish-the castaway wasters and broken wares, the accumulations of long years-have brought to light a historical series of progressive efforts in manufacture ; those specimens which were found nearest the surface representing the latest work, whilst step by step downwards through intermediate periods the earliest productions were at last reached in the lowest strata. Thus, how the pot was made, glazed, and decorated in the successive stages of ceramic art has been revealed. The first pieces were without ornament of any kind, and it was not till the fourteenth century that even the crudest of human heads appeared on the necks or bellies of the pots, which later, in more refined outline, accompanied by real or fictitious coats-of-arms, were found almost everywhere. Although we must ascribe an English origin to some of these vessels-Bellarmines, greybeards, or longbeards as they are named-they were clearly imitated from those made at Cologne or in its neighbourhood, which were exported to England from Flemish ports and thus known as gras de Flandres.
About the beginning of the sixteenth century, at a period coincident with the Reformation, beer-drinking became excessively popular owing to the discovery that hops, being added to the malted liquor, improved its flavour, gave it tonic properties, and increased its keeping qualities. A remarkable demand for drinking vessels arose, which was supplied by canettes or tall flagons and jugs in stoneware. In Germany they gradually supplanted those made of pewter, glass, and earthenware, and relegated the Bellarmines to a secondary position, because their shapes were finer and their decoration much more elaborate. The second half of the century was notable, as the illustrations show, for veritable masterpieces of stoneware which was not unworthy of comparison with the silver-work of the artists of Nuremberg and Augsburg, and which indeed it resembles in its figures and ornament in low relief. Germany and the Low Countries were the homes of the hanap and beaker.
The wealthy Teuton of this period drank his brandy and water from a large two-handled silver vessel termed a Brandewijnskom, or brandy basin, and his wine from a silver cup or tazza, a Drinkschaal, but his beer, surely, from a Hirschvogelkrug or Steynkrug, if not from a Schnelle, Apostelkyug, or perchance from a Sclayaubflasche.
Such jugs and bottles were all " thrown " on the wheel from suitable clays found in the valleys of the Rhine and Meuse, carefully selected, combined, and prepared by mixing. We called attention to the thumbing on the foot and to the lifting of the forms from the wheel after the wire-cut. The ornaments, quite in keeping with the fineness of the ware, have a distinction which is all their own. Moulds or stamps, clearly cut or engraved with intaglio designs on metal, hard wood, or fine-grained stone supplied the decoration in relief, for they were filled with clay having the same composition as the " thrown " body to whose surface the moulded ornament was applied and fixed by means of thin slip or clay mixed with water. Many subjects are found in which this treatment is most elaborate, such as those in the illustrations of the grey stoneware of Siegburg and the brown stoneware of Raeren, for example. Other pieces, similarly plain, are equally distinguished.
Then the stoneware of Westerwald introduces another type where the decoration is aided by blue and by violet enamels. This leads to a third group, in which the harmonious tones of polychrome enamels blend delightfully in fine compositions which must for ever be admired by those who collect this old ceramic art, the fascinating stoneware with its lovely soft colours. At Nuremberg, the elder Veit Hirschvogel, born 1441, was familiar with the use of tin glaze, and specimens ascribed to him are preserved in the museums, especially the stoves for which the family was famous. Yet the Hirschvogel name is associated more closely in the minds of collectors with the marvellous coloured stoneware. The illustrations show a splendid specimen, and facing one is a page of description, so that there is no need to say anything more here.
Neither is it necessary to dwell on each individual factory which made stoneware. Their positions are shown in the map, their productions in the illustrations. It will therefore be sufficient to give the results of comparison. Raeren ware is usually brown, sometimes grey and blue ornament with arms in relief and en creux, i.e. in intaglio. Flowers, lambrequins, masks, appear with scriptural subjects, medallions, and an occasional pelican. Some pieces are marked, as Johannes Kannenbeckey me f ecit ; G. EMENS ; the monogram of M. Mennicken and Jan Allers ; with accompanying dates ranging from about 1580 to 1623.
The Westerwald productions comprise those of Hohr and Grenzhausen, near Coblentz (Nassau). The ware is greycoloured with blue, though now and then violet is used as well as polychrome. Inscriptions are found with coats-of-arms, with scriptural subjects such as the " Good Samaritan," with eight subjects showing the works of mercy, with masks and arms, rosettes, and flowerets, with woman and dances, all in relief and engraved. Very rarely the monogram LE.M., for Jan Emens, appears upon a shield. The dates range over a few years on each side of 1600. Perhaps the distinctive style is that with rosettes, cruches d rosettes, with a grey surface heightened with blue, having rosettes in relief on a violet ground.
Nearly the whole of the Siegburg stoneware is white or greyish white. The canette or tall flagon in the illustration is a remarkable example of its armorial decoration, the detail being wonderful. Yet the history of Samson, figures of Faith, Justice, and Charity, and of Pride, Luxury, and Gluttony, or of Joshua, Alexander, and David, seem to have occupied the decorator as well as the coats-of-arms, the lambrequins, and the arabesques. With the exception of Hans Hilgers, the celebrated potter, whose initials H.H appear now and then on shields in the decoration, no names of the Siegburg potters have as yet been traced. The dates upon the ware are from about 1559 to the early years of the seventeenth century.
Near Cologne on the south-west, at Frechen, brown ware was mainly produced, some with tints of blue, other with lustrous reflections. Masks with long beards, the Baybman, the greybeard, or Bellarmine, adorned the stoneware of Frechen and Raeren. The dates found on the comparatively few pieces known begin about 1523 and end about 1604.
In Bavaria, at Creussen, during the sixteenth and early seventeenth century, brown stoneware was made and coloured with enamels. Such were the drinking vessels typified by the " Apostelkrug," on the periphery of which, between two borders of polychrome enamel, are displayed the figures of the apostles by the side of the double eagle. Another form, a bottle, called " Schraubflasche," shows the four evangelists and a young woman standing one on each side. The ground around the figures is blue. The five flattened sides are decorated with polychrome enamels, which are also applied to the figures. The general character of Creussen ware may be gathered from the illustrations. It is either wholly brown, or has a blue ground with enamel decoration in polychrome, whilst some of the Nuremberg stoneware has a green ground with open-work ornament, not at all like the stoneware of the Hirschvogel family, which was enamelled in colours.
The German stoneware is noted for its remarkable ornament in relief. The drinking-vessels were mounted in pewter, as a rule, and upon the covers appear the dates when the pewterer did his work, which was generally quite plain. In addition to stoneware, much faience was made in Germany, which is apt to be forgotten amidst the superb productions with a harder body, the ware to which, as we have shown, the term gres de Flandres has been so widely and unfitly applied.
The magnificent beer-jug or grande cruche is of signal rarity and uncommon brilliance in its enamel decoration. Its charming form is decorated all round with rich ornament modelled in relief and covered with enamels-blue, white, yellow, green, and aubergine. The decoration is divided into two principal zones, the upper of which shows, in a niche in the middle of the front, the figure of Johann Friedrich de Saxe, called " der Grossmutige." He is seen behind a table with a green tablecloth. To right and left can be_ seen half-length figures of other princes, six in number, amongst whom Charles Quint and the Landgrave of Hesse may be recognised. All are wearing the Order of the Golden Fleece. The lower zone shows, in front, a lion holding a shield which contains the double-headed eagle of Austria with the Imperial crown, with six compartments in which the labours of Hercules are illustrated. The shoulder of the jug is ornamented with a row of heads of cherubim, the base with garlands. The handle is formed of three twisted stems spreading out over the body of the jug in graceful curves.
Amongst the numerous fabriques in Germany during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, those of Nuremberg and Bayreuth were well known for their beautiful ware. Especially were they distinguished for the success of their faience, enamelled in white with blue or polychrome decoration. At Nuremberg, the family of the Hirschvogel, potters and glass-painters, was celebrated; hence the name given to this beer-jug, " Hirschvogelkrug." To their successors are attributed the greater part of the fine stoves in enamelled pottery of the seventeenth century, made of tiles and panels covered with a green enamel for the most part. The panels were decorated with portraits and other subjects in relief in rich frames, in which arabesques and caryatides, porticoes, arcades, and columns, were equally ornamented with subjects in relief. Though the best products of the Hirschvogel family were in stoneware, enamelled in colours, some of the Nuremberg stoneware, decorated in relief, had a simple green ground.