Small hexagonal decorative tile painted in white and blue


Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares de Sevilla

Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares de Sevilla

A hexagonal olambre (a small decorative tile) painted in blue on a white background with a central banner in Gothic characters with the inscription: ´fer be´ (do good). The motif is surrounded by maidenhair leaves.

In the 14th-16th centuries blue Manises earthenware, under the influence of Catalonia, became a mass consumer product given its lower prices compared with gilt china. Like this piece, its decoration evolved from Islamic-inspired geometricism to naturalistic and heraldic Gothic-style decorations. In blue Manises earthenware, it was common to use tiles to decorate floors. A large amount of flooring had heraldic themes and were produced with stencils. From the second half of 15th century the compositions of these floors adopted the new Renaissance designs that arrived from Italy.

The elongated hexagonal type corresponds to the category that antique dealers called "alfardón" from the early 19th century. However, Guillermo de Osma demonstrated that this name was not exclusive for these pieces since it essentially designated the principal element of a composition which could be rectangular, square or hexagonal.

In general, elongated hexagonal tiles, which were already common in the 14th century, spread in the first half of the 15th century and persisted until the end of the century. They were combined with square piece to form the "opus alexandrinum" compositions called "opus alexandrinum". Around the last quarter of the century, Manises copied the standard hexagonal model, which originated in Italy in the composition called "a favus", which was generally decorated with a renaissance character or composition.

Among the decorative elements of this sample we find leaves on a dotted background belonging to the Gothic-Naturalistic style of the classical series of the 15th century and dating from the first half of the century.

According to the bibliography consulted, pieces similar to this come from the chapel of San Jerónimo at the convent of La Concepción Francisca de Toledo. It is therefore possible that this example is also from that convent. The National Archaeological Museum has a tile section (60064) with the original arrangement of the chapel's pavement. It shows that elongated hexagonal tiles were arranged around square tiles decorated with flowers with blue petals.

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  • Title: Small hexagonal decorative tile painted in white and blue
  • Date Created: 1426/1475
  • Location: Manises, Valencia
  • Physical Dimensions: 11,2 x 21 x 2 cm
  • Type: Flooring
  • Medium: Hand-painted flat tile, fired and glazed