The Medici Valencian vase


British Museum

British Museum

The Islamic tradition of lustred earthenware was introduced into Europe in the workshops of Malaga, in Islamic southern Spain. However, by around 1400 the Christian region of Valencia had become the major centre of production. Large quantities were exported to Italy, particularly to the wealthy families of Tuscany, many of whom had trading links with Valencia. Many Italian families commissioned lustreware painted with their arms. This spectacular vase bears the arms of Piero 'Il Gottoso' ('the Gouty') de' Medici (1416-69) or his son, Lorenzo 'Il Magnifico' ('the Magnificent') (1449-92). King Louis XI of France had granted Piero the privilege of adding the lilies of France to the Medici arms in 1465. The Medici device of diamond ring, symbolizing eternity, and two feathers are shown on the reverse.

The lustre technique involves the application of irridescent metallic decoration to twice-fired pottery, usually in a third firing. The technique was introduced into Italy shortly before 1500 in direct competition with Valencian luxury ceramics, such as this vase.

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  • Title: The Medici Valencian vase
  • Date Created: 1465/1480
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 43.70cm; Height: 570.00mm; Diameter: 210.00mm (base); Diameter: 154.00mm (rim); Width: 349.00mm (wing handles)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: tin-glazed; painted; lustred
  • Subject: heraldry; leaf
  • Registration number: G.619
  • Production place: Made in Manises
  • Material: earthenware
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Bequeathed by Godman, Edith. Previous owner/ex-collection Godman, Frederick Du Cane. Previous owner/ex-collection Magniac. Previous owner/ex-collection Walpole, Horace. Collected by Medici, Lorenzo de'