Talavera ceramics

Until the sixteenth century, the ceramic potters made pottery pieces for daily use. Their aim was to meet the needs of the people in the cities and towns.

In the sixteenth century, however, tiles were added to the pottery production and from then on potters began to have weight in the city.

In the seventeenth century there was a transformation of Talavera´s society. Besides agriculture and breeding, the pottery production was in boom.

In the eighteenth-century Talavera supported the Royal Silk Factory and its people did everything they could to avoid losing their privileges. As a result of this, there was a conflict between the two groups that wanted to stand out in every social and religious act that took place in the city.

All along the nineteenth century Talavera opened up to commerce and the ceramic elements decreased. From the beginning of the twentieth century until the Civil War, the potter, Ruiz de Luna served as guide for other potters that joined him and worked with him. And at this time, there was a true flourishing of ceramics in Talavera.

After 1926 the ceramic industry survived but it was after 1960, that the pottery production, with its ups and downs, took a new impulse.

The interest of many workers of Ruiz de Luna or Niveiro, and that of a other new ones that joined in, Montemayor, Ginestal, Saso, Mauri…, the Ceramic School itself, had been the cause of a true flourishing in ceramics. An interest in new forms, new designs and good quality appeared.

The sixteenth Century: The beginnings

Talavera Ceramic acquired its own name from the sixteenth century on. Before that its production was for domestic use and it had a popular character. The pieces also had the typical Moorish shapes of Toledo`s household.

Talavera Ceramic, in times of King Charles V, was Moorish, but during the reign of King Phillip II, it defined itself with a renaissance or Italian-flemish style and was decorated according to the “outer cover technique”.

The decorations were mainly of a tin colour and the colour palette was composed of green copper, antimony yellow and orange iron oxide.

Jan Floris took this technique to the city of Talavera, around 1562, and in this city, he produced tiles for the Asturias's Palace in Madrid. To cope up with the great amount of tiles required for the Royal construction, Talavera's craftmen learned the new techniques and drawings. This is how the Renaissance ceramics appeared.

The eighteenth Century: The Ceramic City

The negative circumstances in Economic terms during the reign of King Phillip II turned out to be good for Talavera´s ceramic production.

Until 1601, the nobility and the clergy used precious metals for their tableware, but the Duke of Lerma, prohibited the use of silver embroideries or gold jewellery in hanging house toppings or in brocades. With this he pretended to solve the problem of lack of metal needed to produce coins.

The King, in the first place and then all the nobility, fixed their eyes in Talavera´s pottery and tables were gradually filled with china made in this city. From the 1500 residents in Talavera during the seventeenth century, more than two hundred people worked as ceramic potters.

This new feature contributed to the city´s new name: the Ceramic City.

King Phillip III, with the pragmatic prohibition of 1601, and the monopoly enjoyed by Triana and Talavera in trade with America, were the determining causes of the splendour that Talavera´s pottery gained at this time.

In the seventeenth century and in the first part of the eighteenth century a new style emerged. Is is known as “chinesca” or “the swallows style pottery”. It was decorated with a palm leaf or a fern motif, and at the center there were one or two swallows and a duck next to a bush. This Chinese influence reached Talavera through Portugal.

The eighteenth Century: New Airs

During this Century, from 1730 on, Talavera's pottery acquired new airs: the French influence and Alcora's influence could be seen in Talavera's craftmen´s way of working, in the way they used the colours, the brush strokes, and the harmony, as a whole.

However, the eighteenth century was the century of doubts and of the decay in ceramics.

The nineteenth Century: the splendour ends

In the late eighteenth century, Talavera and Triana lost their privilege rights of being the only ones that could trade with American countries.

In the nineteenth century, the Independence War and the end of the trade with America were the definite causes of the decline. The few pottery objects produced had a popular character and were identified with the colours and coatings of Puente del Arzobispo ceramics and only the shapes of the pieces maintained the Talaveran style.

At the end of the nineteenth century, simple white plates with a blue line in the edge and a flower or a bird in the center were produced. This was the background where Ruiz de Luna's pottery emerged.

The twentieth Century- The flourishing of Ruiz de Luna´s pottery

The flourishing that occurred during the first half of the twentieth century, filled with Talavera´s tiles gardens and parks in America and in Spain.

Ruiz de Luna´s pottery was characterized by its study, power and creation.

Study because it looked for the historic data that took them back to the time and people who created Talavera's pottery. They observed the old pieces and copied them. A fragment of one was good enough to reconstruct a new one.

Power because of the techniques that they used with ease. They investigated with colours and paste and trained their potters to update forms and motifs. There was nothing that the wheel and the brush could not do.

Creation because they created pottery pieces that are totally original, with talaveran drawings and themes that are one's own. But at the same time have an antique touch.

(Summary of the text written by Angel Ballesteros Gallardo, member of the Royal Academy of Arts and History of Toledo for the catalogue: "Ceramics of Talavera, Art and Heritage of Castilla-La Mancha.")


Green and Blue

The vernacular pottery of Granada was green and blue and stemmed from the nineteenth Century. These potters produced and decorated their work in this style which combined cobalt blue glazes with green copper ones.

The motives were simple and predominantly geometrical, wrapping or alternating with abstract vegetation or animal themes, all of them presented in a very popular and naïve way not lacking a certain spontaneity and freshness.

The ancient style

It is based on a technique reconstructed from the first beats of the purest original arab white raw or half raw, but prepared with the same glow or opacity of Granada's glased earthenware.

Immediately over this coat of semi transparent pure white, sometimes with a slightly crazed glaze, they applied the sobriety of the cobalt blue and the manganese, over a pale copper green. Their intention was to discover with the dance of birds, flowers and contorted pomegranates, the production of the purest and most authentic "traditional historic pottery of Granada", apart from recovering the child like and sage breath of those potters who knew how to capture the vital features of things and to translate their thoughts with a blaze of brushstrokes into great ceramic works.

The "special ancient style"

What we call here "the special ancient style" is a ceramic decoration which, based on the same technical and material elements as the ancient line, reached a unique level of purity in its geometrical motifs and in animal motifs, reminiscent of the purest flavour of Arab pottery.

Dry cord (Cuerda seca)

"Cuerda seca" is a venerable potter's specialty where origins lay beyond the eleventh Century. Its technique of grazing reminds one of the Cloisone enamels, even though in this one the partitions which separate the different elements of the picture or colours were made with an oily paint which acts as a retaining barrier for the glaze.

Dominating this technique allowed spectacular results of great brilliance with exuberant effects of colours which seemed to sprout out of the pottery towards a paradisiacal and floral space.

A caleidoscopic frame seemed to wrap crystal birds, floral jewels, and multicoloured landscapes. This could be considered the most prodigious and capable of the existing techniques in pottery.

Iberomeyan pottery

The iberomeyan style interpreted the fussion of two different styles, distant also in time, the IBERIAN pottery and OMEYAN pottery.

IBERIAN pottery is characterized by is simplicity, spontaneity, both expressed with precarial technical resources.

OMEYAN pottery has the glaze and its purity of painting, reaches a level which serves as a link with the famous NAZARITE lusterware which make the Kingdom of Granada famous.

In rediscovering and combining these two styles in one, we wanted to pay homage to these civilizations which are sometimes forgotten and to which we should turn our view in order to understand that something profound is dying among us.

Despite the frantic cult of progress that we live in, it is important to revive these forgotten forms in order to return them to view and through them, a whole culture, its sensitivity and intensity of dedication to the crafts and alchemy which sometimes come very close to being ritual.

The materials used at this time are signalled by a profuse decoration of geometric patterns and of animals, which give rise to a beautiful pottery characterized by a white glaze with a slight crazing and over this, manganese and green in harmonious and expressive combinations. It is a sample of the great sensitivity and dedication of these people, who were the ancestors of what would later be the artistic revolutionary pottery of the era. They reached levels of design which may never be equalled, thanks to the spectacular golden pottery.

Four thousand years before, when there was hardly knowledge about ceramic glazing using the rough potter´s clay, man needed some objects for his urgent needs and thus, created what nowadays is known as Iberian pottery, a pottery decorated with iron oxide and some borax.

The IBEROMEYAN pottery paid homage to and tried to recover the two peaks of these ancient cultures.

To recover today these arts and to put them in a modern context and technology, is no easy task, nevertheless we can say and be proud that we live in an ancient city called Granada. Granada is full of history. In the past times it was the cradle of European culture. It is important to recover and return to the contemplation of these incomparable forms lost by contempt and oblivion.