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September 09, 2007

Reptile and Invertebrate Plate

Anyone know what kind of pottery this is?

Seen in the window of an antique store near St. Steven's Green in Dublin.

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Wedgewood? Cornish Stoneware?

What happened to the earlier post?

Permian representational?

Certainly better than porcelain ballerinas.

Yeah, weird, what did happen to the earlier Dublin post?

Back in the Cold War days, urban myth had it that if you were on the phone to a city that got nuked, you'd hear a high pitched whine as the phone lines were melting. Is Dublin still there?

I suspect that someone was trying to edit the flickr photo that was no longer appearing properly, and inadvertently killed the post, or put it into a save category.

Either that or Lindsay has had one too many shandies.

Probably Majolica -- the colors, glaze and painting style of the ceramics and the animal shapes on the plate.

Now I'm really confused.

Why is the internets so addictive? Because you can look up the most obscure shit imaginable and find it in a matter of minutes. Like for instance a Reptile and Invertebrate Plate.

Majolica would be right apparently. I only knew the word and had always thought it was some sort of colorful Italian crockery. Turns out there’s a whole heap of something called Victorian Majolica. Page through, herptiles and bugs on lawns, or moss, or whatever it's supposed to be, is a tradition. Who knew?

Digging a little deeper (Since natural history for me is vocation and avocation, its illustration is naturally of interest.), I find that the high relief, critters-on-a-plate ceramic tradition goes back to a 16th Cent. Frenchman named Bernard Palissy whose mastery of ceramics was wrought after a decade of monomaniacal autodidactic experimentation. He eventually became a royal court artisan and something of a savant. His works were much imitated during his lifetime and the style was revived in the 19th Cent and known as Palissy ware. You can get the whole surprisingly interesting dope here.

Beats Hummel figurines.

Ok, but I thought the front piece was real, silly me, and I was thinking of the piece in the bg.

St. Stephen's Green, even? ;)

Saw something similar in a book on art nouveau pottery. Might be an imitation, might be an antique

Actually, it may be Portugese. There are similar plates made by someone called Mafra from the 19th century.

Wow. Very cool information. All an artist needs is one big, beautiful, original idea. You know, that's all. No problem. Sure thing.

Wow. The things one can learn on the internet.

Leave it to the internets - I was sure I'd be the only one who knew it was Palissyware (Palissy makes a small appearance in my dissertation). He used casts of actual animals, and the monomaniacal experimentation was an attempt to make porcelain (real porcelain, at the time, was only made in Asia-- a lot of Europeans were obsessed with doing this). They have a few original pieces in the Victoria and Albert, also, if you're in London again. This is a 19th c. version.

real porcelain, at the time, was only made in Asia-- a lot of Europeans were obsessed with doing this

I can completely understand the obsession. I don’t know exactly why, but this idea that the Chinese once possessed an impenetrable technology for making beautiful objects fascinated me as a kid. It started with my grandmother explaining the term “bone china” and telling me how in the process of Europeans trying to discover the Chinese secret, someone had hit on using calcined bone in the clay mix. The concept of greasy old bones miraculously turned into porcelain captivated my imagination. It helped that my grandparents lived in San Francisco, and I saw a lot of Chinese vases and ate out of the blue and white, rice-grain crockery in the Chinese restaurants my grandfather loved.

My parents always refused to buy rice-grain tableware as they considered it cheap Chinatown junk. I buy the bowls now, because I like riceware, and because the Chinese hemispheric porcelain bowl design simply can’t be improved on.

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