Brought to Spain in the thirteenth century by Islamic artisans, the enamelled earthenware known as mayolica is decorated with a lead glaze to which tin oxide is added to create an opaque white surface. By the fifteenth century, several areas in Spain were well known throughout Europe for the quality of these ceramics, and with Spain's expansion into the New World the mayolica tradition came into Mexico. There it underwent further changes, notably the use of indigenous design motifs and patterns inspired by Chinese porcelain. Over the next three centuries, the potters of New Spain produced ceramics characterised by a distinctive mestizo aesthetic. This tradition continues today in both Mexico and Spain. Assembled in connection with a major exhibition at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, this book moves discussion of mayolica beyond its stylistic merits in order to understand it in historic and cultural context.
Robin Farwell Gavin is curator of Spanish Colonial collections at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe. Donna Pierce is curator of Spanish Colonial Art in the New World Department of the Denver Art Museum. Alfonzo Pleguezuelo is professor of art history at the University of Seville.