Tuesday, August 30, 2011

lovely things: antique ceramics at mfa boston

Con­fes­sion time: I adore pot­tery. There is some­thing about hand­made ceram­ics that just thrills me. Per­haps it's the idea of some­thing as ugly as raw clay becom­ing func­tional and beau­ti­ful. Sec­ond and third con­fes­sions: I adore pat­tern; and color; and antiques (oh wait, that was four.) Bring together all these ele­ments, and I'm in Utopia aka the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

I mar­veled at this selec­tion of amaz­ing Per­sian ceramic pieces, mostly dat­ing from the 12th and 13th cen­turies. All these pieces are from Kashan, now Iran. This ewer required extreme skill. First a bot­tle was encased in an open­work pat­tern of hex tiles. Then the spout and han­dle were applied before the piece was painted and glazed. How does it hold water?

13th century ewer from iran - MFA Boston

13th cen­tury ewer from Iran — MFA Boston

Kashan pot­ters invented under­glaze paint­ing. The pig­ments they used in this bowl did not run when glaze was applied. The design and col­ors here would not be out of place in a con­tem­po­rary home.

early 13th century bowl from iran (kashan) - MFA Boston

early 13th cen­tury bowl from Iran (kashan) — MFA Boston

The turquoise glaze on this piece is au courant!

late 12th century bowl from Iran - MFA Boston

late 12th cen­tury bowl from Iran — MFA Boston

These pieces reflect a com­mon motif found in Kashan enam­eled ceram­ics. The fig­ures are often grouped in themes show­ing hunt­ing or other activities.

late 12th century bowl from Iran - MFA Boston

late 12th cen­tury bowl from Iran — MFA Boston

late 12th century bowl from Iran - MFA Boston

late 12th cen­tury bowl from Iran — MFA Boston

late 12th century cup from Iran - MFA Boston

late 12th cen­tury cup from Iran — MFA Boston

Fast-forward to the 17th cen­tury — this dish from North­west Iran shows gar­den foliage. The inten­sity of the col­ors and pat­tern in striking.

17th century dish from Iran - MFA Boston

17th cen­tury dish from Iran — MFA Boston

I hope you enjoyed this lit­tle bit of ceramic his­tory. The MFA has so much more to see, please visit!

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