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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 )
Why was so much of the fine pottery and stoneware of Germany and the Low Countries sent out from the manufactories without the maker's, to say nothing of the decorator's, mark? The answer will be found in the Guild system. The Guild had absolute and entire control over every article produced in the trade. In Delft the Guild of St. Luc, founded in 1611, kept a record of the members of eight professions or trades, which were organised so highly that no person could make or sell anything except under conditions set out in the rules, and severe penalties were inflicted upon unqualified practitioners. This Guild, which is treated at greater length in the Delft section, maintained its register till 1715, and with regard to its autocratic power it may be considered as typical of such bodies, which supervised the faience makers and painters, amongst other trades, until the time arrived when the organised handicrafts formed separate and independent Guilds or companies.
The livery companies of London did not come into existence, for the most part, before the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and in them, as in the continental Guilds, the conflicting interests of traders and craftsmen were sources of irritation and disturbance, until the merchant's wealth enabled him to subjugate the workmen. Then monopoly and privilege kept the journeymen down, so that whilst they worked for themselves in producing the ordinary goods for the merchant, they were entirely at his disposal in executing goods expressly to order. The potters manufactured common wares, which the traders sold, but when the latter desired anything of a special character they often supplied the designs. Hence on German wares merchants' marks are found more frequently than those of the actual makers. Even in Delft, where in 1764 the Guild enforced an order that all master-potters should deposit a description of their mark or sign for use upon the ware, many of them never used it, judging from the remarkable specimens of eighteenth-century Delft ware which bear no mark. On the other hand, a very large number of fine pieces have marks which cannot be traced on the Masterbook of St. Luc, nor on the other lists made at various times. The apprentice system was in full operation under special regulations.
Exceptions occurred where well-to-do manufacturers held aloof from the Guilds. For them the union had no attraction, they preferred to have perfect freedom, and they chose their own designs and executed them in their own way. This may account for the comparatively frequent occurrence of a few makers' marks on wares of distinct merit, although some of them might have been made for their own homes, there to be preserved as family treasures. Still, the extraordinary fact remains, that not one single name in full has been met with, as yet, upon any piece of German stoneware of the Siegburg type, white or greyish white. And though the Raeren potters maintained their independence and only formed a Guild when the manufacture of stoneware had entered upon its decline, an exceedingly small proportion of the ware bears such marks as Johannes Kannenbecker me fecit. Many pieces, it is true, are assigned to the f abrique of Jan Allers or attributed to G. Emens because their style of work is known.
Passing next to Westerwald, where the fabriques of Hohr and Grenzhausen were active during the seventeenth century, we find similar conditions. Even Jan Emens, the maker of some of the finest drinking vessels, is represented by his initials, I.E.M, very rarely. Nearly always when they do occur they are found upon a shield forming part of the ornament.
When the retail dealer had established his position, his customers stated what they wanted. If they were rich they desired to possess specimens which took the first place in the world in which they moved. As now, the retail dealer despatched his order to the merchant, and he selected the Guild who should execute it, or in the absence of the Guild, he chose the manufacturing potter. In Italy, the princepatron, the rich protector of an art, found the means for encouraging it. There the artist in faience marked his productions-not always, but more frequently than elsewhere. The German potter, though an artist, bore only a trading relation to his ware; the Guild, or the merchant, or the retail dealer, or the customer might discountenance a mark which would enable others to get into direct touch with the maker. Therefore, though we await the unpublished lists of the old German Guilds which shall tell us who made the beautiful stoneware, we must content ourselves with arranging it in classes according to the towns where it had its origin, for the initials found upon it are rarely the potter's: they may be those of the person for whom it was made, or to whom it was presented; they may be the initials of towns or persons accompanied by their coat-of-arms; or they may be the first letters of the words of some text or proverb.
The apprentice system is aptly illustrated by its position amongst the painters of Italy, for it is a singular fact in the social history of Italy during the Middle Ages that the acquiring the knowledge of painting was not simply the study of an art, but it was also the hard, dry learning of a business, to which the scholar was duly apprenticed; each master taking as many pupils, to increase his profits, as the rules of his particular Guild would permit. The earliest rules of these Guilds define, among other privileges, the number which the masters in certain grades might undertake to instruct. One author (Cennini) has described the exact practice : the pupils were to begin as boys, and to serve a thirteen years' apprenticeship, six of which were to be given to the manufacture of colours ; to preparing the plastering, and laying it on the walls for fresco-painting ; to preparing the panels, and the white-of-egg menstruum for tempera painting, etc. The remaining seven years were to be devoted to the study of the art ; and then the whole life-to the practice.