Pitchers with exaggeratedly tall necks, beaklike spouts, and large heavy handles were common in fifteenth-century Spain. This unusually large pitcher, probably made in Manises, the principal center of Spanish lusterware throughout the fifteenth century, holds almost eight quarts, and is a rare example of earthenware technique. Although pitchers were common items of tableware, this particular example, when full, would have been much too heavy to wield conveniently. It therefore might have been used for dispensing wine or water to smaller table pitchers, or for serving wine at large banquets. Its large size and ornamentation have also made it a valuable decorative piece, which perhaps explains its fine state of preservation. The decoration, which includes patterns of pseudo-Kufic script, points to the Muslim origin of all Spanish lusterware. The technique, which originated in the Near East, found its way into Andalusia by the tenth century. By the fifteenth century, piracy and the wars with the Christians had prompted many craftsmen to move northward into the region of Valencia, where all artisans, whether Muslims, Mudejares (Muslims living under a Christian king), or Christians, were allowed to work, and where ships sailed freely to their Mediterranean markets, unhindered by pirates.
Frederick Spencer, 4th Earl Spencer 1798–1857, Althorp, Northampton, England (?) ; Charles Robert Spencer, 6th Earl Spencer 1857–1922, Althorp, Northampton, England (?) ; [ Duveen Brothers, London, Paris and New York (sold 1912)] ; William Randolph Hearst American, 1863–1951, New York and San Simeon, CA. (1912-1951) ; William Randolph Hearst Foundation, New York (1951–1956)
New York. The Cloisters Museum & Gardens. "The Secular Spirit: Life and Art at the End of the Middle Ages," March 28, 1975–June 15, 1975.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Hearst, the Collector," November 16, 2008–March 1, 2009.
Ainaud de Lasarte, Juan. Cerámica y vidrio. Ars Hispaniae, Vol. 10. Madrid: Editorial Plus-Ultra, 1952. pp. 42, 51, fig. 77.
"Spanish Lustreware." Design 59, no. 1 (1957). p. 29.
Randall, Richard Jr. "Lusterware of Spain." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 15, no. 10 (June 1957). p. 219.
Husband, Timothy B. "Valencian Lusterware of the Fifteenth Century: An Exhibition at the Cloisters." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 29, no. 1 (Summer 1970). p. 24, fig. 6.
Frothingham, Alice Wilson, ed. Fine European Earthenware. Special Exhibition Issue, Pharos, Vol. 11, no. 1. St. Petersburg, Fla.: Museum of Fine Arts, 1973. no. 2, pp. 6, 9, 19.
Husband, Timothy B., and Jane Hayward, ed. The Secular Spirit: Life and Art at the End of the Middle Ages. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975. no. 46, p. 46.
Dectot, Xavier. Céramiques hispaniques (XIIe-XVIIIe siècle). Paris: Musée National du Moyen Âge - Thermes et Hôtel de Cluny, 2007. pp. 40–41.
Levkoff, Mary L., ed. Hearst, the Collector. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2008. p. 49, fig. 2.7.