Lambeth Delft fecundity dish, ca. 1650
Maiolica (tin-glazed earthenware)
15 x 18 inches
Gift of Harlan E. Moore 1975-13-1
The Lambeth fecundity dish displays the many sources of English Delft pottery. The palette, some of the decorative patterns, and the medallions are derived from Ming porcelains, while other details are influenced by Italian maiolica, or tin-glazed earthenware. The yellow overglaze and the rust dots on the rim border are borrowed from earlier Dutch Delft pottery, and the shape and sculptural design are taken from a dish by the French artist/artisan Bernard Palissy. The "earth mother" subject reflects the Renaissance and baroque revival of classical motifs.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Chinese porcelain vases were highly prized in Europe, and artisans frequently emulated their forms and styles. The first technique to inspire imitation was tin-glazing, which had been perfected in the Middle East and brought to Europe by Muslims early in the eighth century.
The secret of Chinese porcelain was discovered in the early eighteenth century by the young chemist Johann Friedrich Böttger, who identified its components as kaolin, quartz, and feldspar added to clay. As a result of Böttger's research, the Royal Saxon Porcelain Manufacture was established in Meissen, Germany, in 1710.
Excerpted text by Robert B. Smith, from Krannert Art Museum: Selected Works, 2008