18th & 19th Century Spanish Ceramic Vases

Written by cece evans
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18th & 19th Century Spanish Ceramic Vases
Spain's Andalusian region is famous for its ceramics tradition. (talblick image by detlef menzel from Fotolia.com)

Spain has a long history of ceramic arts. Ceramic production varied over time and by region, affected over the years by the Moorish occupation as well as Spanish expeditions and colonies in the Americas and elsewhere. The fine quality of the 18th- and 19th-century Spanish ceramic tradition means that antiques drawn from this era enliven home decor.


Potters from the Talavera de la Reina region made blue and white earthenware from the beginning of the 18th century. Talavera vases appear with images of Renaissance buildings, cloaked figures, spiral foliage, rural scenes and coats of arms. Talavera jugs have twisted handles, and many of the blue and white designs also show undulating contours and foliage patterns.


Earthenware ceramicists of the Triana district of Seville were influenced by Chinese export ceramics. The designs of pagodas, cranes, flowers and vegetal forms were all based on Chinese porcelain imported by the East India Companies. The designs reached Seville through Dutch copies collected by the Spanish royal courts.

Porcelain in Madrid

When Charles III ascended to the Spanish throne in 1759, he brought with him Italian ceramicists from Naples, porcelain formulas and moulds. Charles III founded a porcelain factory next to his palace.

Madrid porcelain is quite similar to the Baroque Capodimonte style of Naples (which also held factories funded by Charles III). On this type of porcelain can be found themes from the commedia dell'arte, mythological subjects and playing children (similar to concurrent Baroque paintings by Boucher).


The ceramicists of Aragón produced less refined wares in the pottery centres of Muel, Villafeliche and Teruel. Teruel produced a series of blue vases and other earthenware influenced by the products of Catalan and Talavera. The Muel ceramicists, most notably, decorated the entire surface of their vases with fish, heads, suns and floral motifs in green and blue colours. The most popular wares of Villafeliche featured sprays of cherries among hares and birds. The work of all three Aragonese pottery centres became more and more popular over the course of the 18th century.

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