Posts Tagged ‘Raeren stoneware’

World Class Connoisseurs of Salt-Fired German Stoneware

May 4, 2014

They say Germany’s two greatest contributions to Western Civilization were the Reformation and hops in beer.  And both happened at about the same time.

As condensed history, so it goes.  But hops also radically impacted pottery history.  Everybody wanted beer once early 16th century brewers, village housewives mostly, began producing it.  Kids even got their diluted “little beer” for breakfast.  And the best beer containers, before mass produced glass, were stoneware bottles.  Demand skyrocketed.  Germans had been tinkering with stoneware since the 10th century.  But 16th to 18th century salt-fired German stoneware became world renowned because of beer.

Unfortunately Germany’s Rhineland district, where the best work was made, was a playground of war for centuries.  Whole communities were continually uprooted by chronic warfare.  Rhennish potters from Raeren, Freshcen and Siegburg ultimately ended up in the somewhat calmer Westerwald region.

Along the way they picked up improvements in clays, sprig decorations, and brilliant manganese and cobalt highlights.  Their work spawned off-shoots, reproductions, fakes and revivals long after their dominance had passed.

German stoneware was so popular, English potters couldn’t prevent caveats from diluting their July 22, 1672 Parliamentary Order in Council meant to insulate local markets.  The final bill prohibited imports of “any kind or sort of Painted Earthen Wares whatsoever except those of China, and Stone bottles and Juggs.”

Tons of German stoneware, literally, were shipped to England’s North American colonies during the 18th century.  Ironically beer bottles and beer mugs, “krugen” and “cannen,” were not the top imports.  Chamber pots were.  But drinking vessels were close behind.  And they were scattered almost as far.

Colonists weren’t the only admirers of salt-fired German stoneware, however.  Many Native American burial sites included Westerwald jugs.  When pottery is done well, there are no boundaries to how far it will be collected.

a_westerwald_stoneware_pewter-mounted_armorial_jug_17th_century

Readings:
Stoneware in America.  Robert Hunter, ed.

Stoneware: White Salt-Glazed, Rhenish and Dry Body.  Gérard Gusset.  National Historic Parks and Sites Branch, Parks Canada, Environment Canada/Ministry of the Environment, Ottawa, Canada.  1980.

 

Hausmalerei

May 29, 2011

Fake, Forgery:  An intentionally deceptive replica or reproduction.

Replica, Reproduction:  An acknowledged copy intended to educate, preserve, or other valid motive – unless done with unscrupulous intent (see above).

Almost every European ceramic style was forged during the 17th to 19th centuries.  Meissen and Sévrès were popular targets.  But migrating craftsmen spread techniques legally, and popular interest sparked legitimate revivals.  Early Seigburg stoneware tankards (from original molds) reappeared in the 1830’s, as did Raeren stoneware in the 1880’s.  For a time Palissy ware was all the rage.

Business Plan:  A set of goals and the plan for reaching those goals.

As European porcelain production spread, quality control efforts clashed with efforts to keep factories solvent.  Owners (usually local royalty) employed many methods to avoid bankruptcy.  Example, some required Jews in their domain to purchase a certain amount of  product.  A less racist idea foreshadowed the modern “Seconds Sale.”

Hausmaler:  A painter of Hausmalerei.

Hausmalerei is the German word for “home painting.”  Freelance decorators set up shop outside most European ceramics factories, beginning in Germany in the mid 17th century.  They purchased defective, undecorated wares and applied their own enameling.  In France an outside decorator was called a chamberlan.  In England outside decorators were called outside decorators.

Hausmalerei wasn’t an actual forgery of the factory ware it came from.  The trouble was, hausmalers got good at it.  Hausmalerei was seen as a necessary but frowned upon evil – even in the best of times.  Just owning a kiln made one suspicious in the eyes of authorities.  Competition with factory-painted wares became so intense, many factories cut off supplies of blank porcelain.  But hausmalerei continued, at times by ‘less than legal’ means…

Individuals Looking For Unusual Pieces:  The usual patrons of this work.

Readings:
The Concise Encyclopedia of Continental Pottery and Porcelain.  Reginald Haggar.  Hawthorn Books/New York.  1960.