Magnificent and rare example of the life-size Gazelles vase, made at the end of the 19th century in Manises, with its famous and rich original decoration. Superb condition and immaculate provenance.
Manises, Vicente Mora Osca factory, signed and dated 1877 or 1899.
Enamelled earthenware with lustre and cobalt blue decoration. Original support in painted iron.
Dimensions: Height: 135 cm. Height with stand: 177 cm.
Circumference: 213 cm.
Provenance: Vicente Mora Osca Coll., and then by descent until now.
Bibliography: PÉREZ CAMPS, José, La cerámica de reflejo metálico en Manises, 1850-1960 (Museo de Etnología, Diputación de Valencia, Ayuntamiento de Manises, IMATGES S.A.L. 1998), illustrated page. 76.
Condition: excellent. Several superficial unimportant cracks. One of the small ribs under the lip is missing, probably lost before the last firing. The spherical wooden base of one of the legs of the stand is missing. The lustre decoration shows varying degrees of intensity of pattern and colour depending on the area, due to the size of the piece and the differences in kiln temperature during the third firing.
The Alhambra Vase, also known as the 'Gazelle Vase', was made in the XVth century during the Nasrid reign and is considered one of the masterpieces of universal ceramics. Now in the Museum of the Alhambra in Granada, it was undoubtedly a royal commission that stands out for its monumental size and for including in its decoration the beautiful gazelles that give it its name as well as a wide and rich repertoire of ornamental motifs such as atauriques, trees of life or the epigraphic band, in a complex composition that combines lustre and cobalt blue.
Such was the admiration aroused by the Alhambra Vase, a masterpiece of medieval ceramics, that once the Valencian ceramic manufactures became interested in mass-producing lustreware again in the second half of the 19th century, the most important factories in Manises saw in this iconic work an ideal reproduction project whose replica was a strong image and prestige claim for their companies. Due to its enormous size, the vase was a difficult technical challenge to make, both for the clay turning and assembly phase and for its handling in the kiln, its three firings and the painted decoration process. Of the more than 30 factories active in Manises in the last decades of the 19th century, only three or four produced lustreware pieces due to the high production costs; our vase was made by one of them, the Vicente Mora Osca factory, which signed and dated it in 1877 or 1899 on the inside of the neck of the piece. This inscription, unknown in recent decades because the top of the vase was covered, provides valuable information in two respects: it confirms the authorship of the piece, and, coming directly from the family descendants of the factory, it allows us to trace its full provenance from the time it was made, having always remained in the same collection until the present day.
Due to its enormous commercial success, replicas of the Alhambra Vase on a reduced scale (between 50 and 70 cm in height) were numerous, unlike life-size reproductions such as ours, which, as we have seen, are very rare due to the great technical difficulties involved in their production. The annotation "1ª" (1st) on the inscription possibly means that it is the first copy made by the factory, which would explain the interest in keeping it in the factory premises and never selling it: for a symbolic reason and also as a commercial attraction, due to the prestige that its presence implied for the visits of the customers.
We are very grateful to José Pérez Camps for his help in cataloguing this piece.