Art and Latin America

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Ceramica y Cultura: The Story of Spanish and Mexican Mayolica

Edited by Robin Farwell Gavin
Edited by Donna Pierce
Edited by Alfonzo Pleguezuelo

Brought to Spain in the thirteenth century by Islamic artisans, the enameled earthenware known as mayólica is decorated with a lead glaze to which tin oxide is added to create an opaque white surface. By the fifteenth century, several areas in Spain were well known throughout Europe for the quality of these ceramics, and with Spain's expansion into the New World the mayólica tradition came into Mexico. There it underwent further changes, notably the use of indigenous design motifs and patterns inspired by Chinese porcelain. Over the next three centuries, the potters of New Spain produced ceramics characterized by a distinctive mestizo aesthetic. This tradition continues today in both Mexico and Spain.

Assembled in connection with a major exhibition at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, this book moves discussion of mayólica beyond its stylistic merits in order to understand it in historic and cultural context. The contributors, specialists in art and art history, architecture, anthropology, archaeology, and the folk arts, place the ceramics in history and daily life, illustrating their place in trade and economics. Examining both historic and contemporary examples, they also take us into the potters' workshops.


Robin Farwell Gavin is curator of Spanish Colonial collections at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe.

Donna Pierce is curator of Spanish Colonial Art in the New World Department of the Denver Art Museum.

Alfonzo Pleguezuelo is professor of art history at the University of Seville.


"First rate coverage of remarkable ceramics."


Inside Antiques

" Well written and generously illustrated, the editors of this magnificent volume have contributed to a better understanding of the history and cultural significance of the enameled earthenware known as mayólica."


Colonial Latin American Historical Review

"Anyone who studies or collects mayólica will want this book!"


SMRC Revista

"The most comprehensive treatment of majolica in the Spanish-American world that is available today. It is furthermore an extremely beautiful book, with many extraordinary pieces of majolica published for the first time. . . . An invaluable contribution not only to majolica studies but to the integration of European and American scholars around a theme that has been, until now, largely segregated. The book is beautifully produced and reasonably priced. It is a must-have for anyone interested in ceramics."


Journal of Anthropological Research

8 x 11 in. 384 pages 160 color plates, 100 halftones