Spanish / Basin with a Horseman Spearing a Serpent / 1390-1400Spanish
Basin with a Horseman Spearing a Serpent

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Creator Nationality: European; Iberian; Spanish
Creator Name-CRT: Spanish
Title: Basin with a Horseman Spearing a Serpent
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1390
Creation End Date: 1400
Creation Date: 1390-1400
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramics-Pottery
Materials and Techniques: Earthenware, tin-glazed (lusterware)
Dimensions: D. 17 1/4 in. (43.8 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 41.100.173
Credit Line: Gift of George Blumenthal, 1941

The earliest example of medieval lusterware in the Museum's collection, this basin was probably either used as a serving dish or intended only for display. The brilliant coloring and expert craftsmanship of Spanish lusterware made it renowned throughout Europe. As early as the tenth century, the Moors in Spain had mastered the technique of lusterware, and by the turn of the fifteenth, when this basin was made, artists were still following those same glazing methods. The choice of decoration was sometimes indebted to Moorish motifs but could also be drawn from Western imagery, as is the case with this representation of a horseman spearing a serpent, perhaps inspired by the legend of Saint George and the dragon. The coats of arms on the shields that decorate the basin's rim have not yet been identified.

The first step in the technique of Spanish lusterware was to glaze a fired piece of clay with an undercoat of white and then paint the design in deep blue. Details could be obtained by sgraffito-a method of scratching the surface to reveal the white undercoat. Luster, a mixture of silver and copper oxides to which red ocher, silt, and vinegar were added, was applied only after a second firing. It was this last step, mixing and applying the luster and then firing the lustered object, that distinguishes Hispano-Moresque wares from other contemporary ceramic production.

AMICA ID: MMA_.41.100.173
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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