The Puebla Talavera pottery: A world of stories in the kitchen

The Puebla Talavera pottery has become an icon of Puebla not only for its striking colors and dedication in its creation, but also for the creativity with which the designs tell stories.

Tazón con cenefa vegetal (1850/1900) by AnónimoAmparo Museum

Plates, crockery, pots, even whole kitchens that show off wavy designs and vibrant colors come to mind when talking about the Puebla Talavera pottery.

Jarra polícroma con rosetones y flores (1940) by Talavera UriarteAmparo Museum

If this material has become a product with designation of origin it is not only because of the hard work that there is in its production…

…but also because in every careful stroke and in its colorful designs there is a rich history of creative minds and potters wanting to translate the Mexican spirit and its past into the kitchen.

Plato repostero 1 (1890/1920) by AnónimoAmparo Museum

The Talavera pottery has been present in Mexico since the 16th century, with the arrival of Spanish potters in the city of Puebla de los Angeles.

But it wasn't until the 18th century that several pottery guilds unified the characteristics to distinguish the Puebla Talavera pottery, among them the use of the iconic use of cobalt blue and tin and the signing by the same workshops guaranteeing the originality and quality of the product.

Jarrón con escena romántica (1840/1860) by AnónimoAmparo Museum

Although to date these standards have been followed, the Talavera pottery experienced a renaissance that would define its place in Mexican craftsmanship in the 19th century.

Jarrón con escena campirana de pesca (1840/1860) by AnónimoAmparo Museum

In mid century, several ceramists sought inspiration from the designs and landscapes characteristic of Chinese porcelain, so they began to portrayal everyday scenes and small stories in one image as well.

Tazón o fuente con cornucopias (1880/1920) by AnónimoAmparo Museum

They also began experimenting with polychrome versions of the Talavera; pottery that is, they would no longer use only the blue-and-white combination feature.

Instead, new colors were used such as orange, yellow, black, green (hard-to-achieve color, since many layers end up generating black) and even red.

Platón ovalado con motivos florales (1900/1920) by AnónimoAmparo Museum

For example, on this dish we can see that ceramists were already playing with the proportions, colors and shapes of the pictures shown.

In this way, the plate itself and the image depicted acquired more organic dyes and vivid colors.

Plato semihondo con cenefa vegetal e iniciales (1880/1920) by AnónimoAmparo Museum

Among these ceramists, the work of Enrique Ventosa stands out, who broke with previous traditions, for example, by signing with his own initials and not with those of the workshop as the pottery workshops used to do (and still tend to do).

Plato polícromo con escenas costumbristas y peces (1890/1920) by AnónimoAmparo Museum

The 19th century ceramists also played with the reliefs and dish shapes to capture complete scenes

For example, on this dish we see again that the ceramist used the usual cobalt blue of the traditional Talavera pottery

However, he also incorporated other colors such as yellows, greens and oranges, as well as fish and houses of different sizes.

In this way, the plate itself becomes a pond in the center of a countryside landscape. That is, it is no longer just a piece of crockery, but a piece of art.

Botella achatada (1940) by Talavera UriarteAmparo Museum

The foundations these ceramists laid still inspire the designs in today's Puebla Talavera pottery, making it a living example of how everyday histories and Mexican cuisine are not worlds apart from each other.

Plato repostero 4 (1890/1920) by AnónimoAmparo Museum

Credits: Story

Text based on the conference El Renacimiento de la Talavera Poblana, de 1890 a 1940 (The Rebirth of the Puebla Talavera Pottery, from 1890 to 1940) by Emma Yanes Rizo for the Amparo Museum

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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