- unknown artist
Unknown artist, Jug, 1800s. Glazed ceramic; 10¾ × 6 in. Gift of John C. Freyer for the Frank Barrow Freyer Collection at the Denver Art Museum, 1974.260.
Hand-built from mud and low-fired to harden, earthenware vessels were produced throughout the Americas for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. Earthenware covered with a hard, shiny glaze made from lead and tin had been invented in the Middle East. The technique (known as majolica), along with the potter’s wheel, was introduced to Spain by Muslims in the 900s. In turn, Spanish ceramic artists introduced glazes and the potter’s wheel to the Americas in the 1500s.
The colonial towns of Puebla (Mexico) and Lima (Peru) became centers of majolica production. They created distinctive styles that often incorporated a mixture of motifs taken from earlier Islamic, Spanish, and ancient native models as well as from imported Chinese porcelains. Green-tinted majolica glazes were produced throughout the colonial period in many areas of Latin America, including Mexico and Peru. But the popularity of green majolica was eclipsed in the 1600s–1700s by blue-and-white ceramics that imitated Chinese porcelain.
-- Donna Pierce, 2015