The development of botanical and animal pottery art :
I never cease to be captivated by the intrinsic beauty of nature. Its form, texture and graceful lines have been well represented in pottery art from the beginning. In pre dynastic Kemetic art (Egypt before the Pharaohs ), Solar-Afro-headed priestesses were often depicted in Nile riverboats . These images occur on numerous ochre-painted ceramic pots, and also appear in rock art and in a tomb murals. The pot below shows a pair of women in a boat with plants for shade and to their left is a priestess figure performing an invocation.
Egyptian pre-dynastic Kemetic pottery
In Babylon, ancient Egypt and ancient Greece ceramic tile painting was widely utitilised for decorating. It was used on deck walls, ceilings, floors, murals and even on outside walls and featured both botanical and animal designs. During the New Palace period (ca. 1600 BC to 1450 BCE) of the early Minoan culture, technological advances in materials, firing at higher temperatures and faster pottery wheels, saw an evolution both in form and design. Pottery decoration with spirals and lines became less common as the central theme but remained in lesser areas such as around handles and necks. Plants and marine life now took centre stage. The Floral style most commonly depicted were slender branches with leaves and papyrus flowers.
Minoan Gold Ring – unearthed in a burial chamber of a Minoan princess
16th – 13th centuries BC
The Marine style, perhaps, produced the most distinctive of all Minoan pottery with detailed, naturalistic depictions of octopuses, argonauts, starfish, triton shells, sponges, coral, rocks and seaweed. The early Minoan culture had an influence on Greek art.
From 1450 BCE a new style developed, perhaps influenced by increasing contact with the Mycenaean culture from the Greek mainland and this was predominantly found in Knossos. Typical examples were the three-handled amphora, squat alabastron vessels, goblets and unusual pieces including ritual vessels with figure of eight handles and a libation jugs covered in spiky projections. These were decorated with much more schematic representations than the previous styles. Papyrus, lilies and octopuses become more stylised and abstract. Whilst religious motifs continue to be seen, birds appeared for the first time on pottery, as did helmets and shields.
Minoan dolphin vase
Although Greek pottery provided us with a wide range of shapes from cups to plates to massive amphorae, many of the forms remained relatively constant over centuries. This is primarily because Greek potters were producing wares for practical use – holding wine, water, oil and perfumes – and once the optimum practical shape had evolved, it was copied and maintained. However, despite this restriction in form, the Greek potters and painters could express their versatility in the decoration of the vase.
From the 8th century BCE, Geometric pottery decoration began to include stylized human figures, birds and animals with nearly all the surface of the vase covered in bold lines and shapes painted in brown and black.
At the end of the 5th century the Greek painters Parrhasios and Zeuxis, introduced new painting techniques. The former is said to have used outline in new ways which achieved greater realism, and the latter used shading. This inspired new figurative styles with the pottery art.
Early European floral decoration
The Chinese K’ang-Hsi porcelain, which featured both Indian and Korean styled flowers was generally copied during the early development of the botanical decoration of European pottery. The majolica from Spain, which featured a lot of floral decoration also had a substantial input. The advancement of botanical studies, a love of realistic paintings, along with the introduction of new colours supported the creation of more local styles. The liking for bunches of flowers and the production of botanical prints led to further development of naturalistic decorations. As the use of wild-flowers on Marseilles china became popular, this also influenced the rest of Europe in the decoration of their Majolica and porcelain china.
Neo classical, Rococo, Renaissance, Chinoiserie, Baroque, Japonisme, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and most other styles of pottery all had representations of botanical and nature figures in varying degrees. Below is a mixed selection featuring nature inspired imagery.
Cathy Reichel Clark Ceramics
Deb Stableey Pottery
Finely Painted Japanese Plate -18th century
( Elegance Auctioneers )
France Bulbous Vase signed L. Berty from Vallauris Provence 20th century
Birds on a turquoise vase – Sarreguemines French Majolica
Italian Majolica – red earthenware vase covered with a mottled pale blue glaze.
( Ben Ronalds’ Collection – Queensland Museum )
Lavender and white Art Nouveau vase – Hans Rudolf Hentschel – 1896
K’ang-hsi Period Cloisonne bottle form vase
Large Austrian Amphora ceramic vase
Large French or German Majolica bowl
Moorcroft vase, Deco Drive design, issued 2007, designer Phillip Gibson
( Treadway )
Qing Cloisonne enamel crysanthenum flowers
Carved gourd vessel – Marilyn Sunderland
Carved gourd vessel – Marilyn Sunderland
Vase with poppy flowers -stained glass mosaic
( Penelope )
Val Saint-Lambert vase
( Victor Arwas Gallery )
Vintage large vase ” Treespath ” Rudolph Lorber
Weller Pottery, USA
Charles Catteau deer vase
Charles Catteau vase
Art Deco Vase – Charles Catteau
English Majolica Baroque vase _ late 19th century
( Ruby Lane )
Art Nouveau vase
Monarch by Sharon Meyer Postance
French Art Nouveau ceramic vase
Lucien Levy–Dhurmer for Clément Massier
Crysanthenum flower Amphora vase designed by Paul Dachsel
Amphora vase designed by Paul Dachsel
Antique French asparagus vine leaf plate MAJOLICA BARBOTINE circa 1880
Antique Hand Painted French Planter- Rouen Cornucopia
Ben Carter – Dogwood Pitcher
Bust Figurine – Cordey-1940
H. Bequet Quaregnon hand painted Ewer – Belgium
Amphora Art Nouveau vase
( Treadway – Toomey )
Neo classical porcelain oil lamp
( Cowans )
Turquoise White Cat Plate with Leaves (1968) – Beatrice Wood
( The Beatrice Wood Permanent Collection )
French Pierrefonds vase – crystalline glaze
( Treadway Toomey )
Rene-Buthaud vase – large bulbous shape with stylized deer and foilage
Amphora vase, designed by Eduard Stellmacher
Weller Pottery botanical pitcher
Art Glass by Jeffrey Pan
Cornflower vase by Lisa Katzenstein
( http://beveregallery.com )
Matt Morgan Pottery Vase
( Skinner Auctions )
Vase of fiddlehead ferns, 1905-15. Manufactured by Tiffany Pottery. Corona, New York.
( Scala Archives )
Pottery vase, bird & flower motif, late 19th century
( Bill Hood and Sons Auctions )
Luba Sharapan mug
Julie Whitmore Pottery
Weller “Glendale” Vase, Signed, McLaughlin
( Cowan’s Auctions )