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Frauke Witte Faenza conferenze .pdf

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Pottery from Husum, northern Germany, 1. half 17th century

Slip applicator from pottery in Husum, northern Germany, c. 1620

Slip glazed bowl how it was in the oven,
c. 1625

During the period 1550-1800, northern Germany (Schleswig-Holstein) and southern Denmark were connected politically and culturally which is visible in
everyday objects. Contrary to the general opinion that most of the wares, notably slipware, were imported from central Germany and the Netherlands,
archaeological excavations of potters’ workshops as well as other archaeological evidence have shown that the majority of the red fired pottery was
produced locally in northern Germany and Denmark. There were potters in almost all towns and in many rural settlements.


The pipkin, a round vessel with three legs and a spout, was particularly typical of the period. It was
used for cooking over an open fire. A lower, more open version acted as a skillet. Pots with a flat base
and a handle were typically used for cooking or serving fluid dishes. They may also have been used
for storing foods as lids are found occasionally. Bowls and dishes could be used for both holding and
serving food. The decorated bowls and dishes may have belonged to the personal tableware from
which one ate, in the same way as from the plates. The sizes may vary considerably depending on the
purpose. Pipkins and dishes make out the majority of the pottery, but also mugs, jugs, bottles, chafing
dishes, strainers, pancake pans, baking moulds, fish and fat moulds, tureens, dripping pans as well as
fire covers , were common objects of daily life in the 17th century. Furthermore, one may find ointment
jars, oil-lamps, candle sticks, writing sets and ink pots, flower pots, money boxes, toy figures, gaming
pieces and not least stove tiles.

Pipkin, slip glazed, c. 1650
Little bowl, slip glazed,
c. 1620

Oillamp with candlestick,
c. 1625

Toyfigur, ca. 1625


The motifs applied to slipware were numerous, ranging from geometric patterns to botanic and
zoomorphic designs. In the 17th century, such designs were symbols of protection and prevention
and several of the motifs may have had a Christian origin. Images of humans are extremely rare. Many
of the motifs, which are also found in contemporary illustrated bibles and on paintings, are found all
over northern Europe. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the ornamentation was applied using the
slip applicator as well as the painter’s brush, but also plastic ornaments such as engraved patterns
(Sgrafitto, Federzug, Kerbstich, marbling etc.) were common. In the beginning of the period, white
clays were used for light engobe and decoration with green notes under the lead glaze. In northern
Germany and Denmark, yellow and blue colours were frequently added to the spectrum of colours in
the 18th and 19th centuries.

Bowl, slip glazed and
dated 1629

Mould lamb, c. 1625

Toyfigur, ca. 1625

The commonly very rich ornamentation used throughout the centuries is primarily found on the inside
of dishes and bowls, and on the outside of pipkins and so-called “barselspotter”. Dishes and bowls
were decorated with different patterns from the beginning of the 16th century, and the ornamentation
can be very rich on objects of representational character. From the middle of the 17th and into
the 19th centuries, inscriptions were often added to dishes and bowls. These inscriptions could be
names, dates, or quotations, often biblical. In this period, pipkins and handled wares were glazed too
and often decorated on the outside. From c. 1650, light patterns painted with the slip applicator are
commonly found, partly with a green glaze under the transparent lead glaze on the reddish surface.
Later, the ornamentation became more simple compared to that of the 17th century. Towards the end
of the 19th century, dishes and bowls were merely glazed with a little ornamentation around the rim
and the date and/or the name of the buyer in the centre. Jugs, mugs, tureens and other forms were no
longer ornamented.
Plate slipglazed bird, c. 1625

Plate with fishmotiv, c. 1625


The so-called fish dishes are special. They are large, polychrome platters, often with floral motifs
and an inscription on the fane? and a little central bowl for the sauce. The fish dishes are believed to
originate in north Schleswig/southern Jutland towards the end of the 17th century; they are produced
until the 19th century.
Bowls for porridge differ from other bowls and dishes by having a profiled rim with a vertical lip and
a wide brim on the outside to sweep off the spoon. They are found all over Denmark, Schleswig and
Holstein in the 18th and 19th centuries and are characterised by e.g. a polychrome ornamentation on a
light background. The central motifs include tulips and other flowers, vines, or leaves, but also fish and
human figures, while circles and waves are placed below the rim. Inscriptions are rare.
The so-called “barselspotter” were produced towards the end of the 18th and in the 19th centuries in
Schleswig and Holstein, and in many parts of Jutland and Funen. They can be richly ornamented with
floral and geometrical designs, and supplied with a date or an inscription.

Fish dish, slip glazed with “Federzugdekor”
datet 1753

Barselspotte, rich dekorated, 18th. Century.

Porridge bowl, slip glazed with inskription, 18th century

The centres of production which were important for the development of the renaissance wares in
Schleswig and Holstein are found in central Germany in the Weser (typically a light background with
geometric motifs) and Werra areas (typically a red-brown background with light paintings, often
figures). Human figures, animals, and flowers reach the potters from c. 1580. From this point, the
further development is rather similar within the area. The development is apparently not influenced
from other areas but follows the changes in tastes and preferences. However, northern German and
Danish slipware appears to have influenced the north Dutch pottery and was exported to northern
Frauke Witte · Museumsinspektør · Museum Sønderjylland, Arkæologi Haderslev · Dalgade 7 · 6100 DK Haderslev · +45 7452 7566

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