11260

AN EXTREMELY RARE TILE PICTURE DEPICTING LIVERIED SERVANTS IN A KITCHEN SETTING

Valencia. Circa 1770.

Measurements

Height: 77 1/2" (approx. 197 cm)
Width: 103" (approx. 262 cm).

Research
Composed of 108 polychrome glazed tiles. The scene depicting two liveried servants dressed in blue and brown carrying platters laden with a piglet and a duck.  On a plain table covered in a white cloth rests a further platter stacked with pies.  The walls are adorned with a straw basket, a fringed cloth which hangs from a rail, a pair of rabbits hung from a hook, and a pendant of garlic hung from a hook.  In the foreground is a large dog and a cat eating a fish.  The scene is decorated on three sides with meandering flowers and foliage. There are eleven replacement tiles in all, mainly confined to the right hand border. Some tiles with old restoration.

Provenance:
Private Collection, Spain.
Señor Bentley Angliss, Madrid, Spain.

Originally the province of brickmakers, the production of painted tiles in Valencia has continued in one form or another since the Middle Ages. The first known Valencian factory devoted solely to tilemaking opened in 1568. Earlier that century, artisans arriving from Castille had revolutionized the Spanish tilemaking industry by introducing full polychromy, which in turn inspired new subject matter and more elaborate compositions. The resulting increase in demand led several Valencian craftsmen to open tile factories, which at first were small, cramped workshops with a single kiln and a limited yield. However, by the middle of the eighteenth-century, at the height of the Spanish Rococo period, the city’s tile factories had become the foremost in Spain, and were receiving commissions ranging from kitchen panels in the homes of the wealthy nobility to interior decorations in the Royal Palace in Madrid.1

By the mid-1700s, the most important tile factory in Valencia was that of Vicente Navarro, located on Calle de la Corona. Navarro is named in a mural in the convent of Santo Domingo de Orihuela in the town of Vernos that depicts the history of the tile industry in the 1700s. In one scene, which shows bundles of merchandise marked with their makers’ names, one bundle reads: “Luís Domingo drew it…Vicente Navarro made it.” Luís Domingo was one of the painters of the Academia, and his name being here linked with Navarro’s indicates that Navarro may have collaborated with some of the most highly respected Baroque artists.2

One of the best-preserved examples of Rococo kitchen tile paintings attributed to Navarro can be found in the Casa del Marqués de Benicarló, in Benicarló, Spain (figure 1). The exterior walls of the house, built in 1776 for the rich merchant Joaquín Miquel, were once covered with Rococo frescoes; and elaborately designed tile paintings were installed throughout the building. The richest tile paintings were saved for the more private areas of the house, and the grand kitchen became home to the most impressive of all, the opulent decoration befitting the lady of the house who would oversee its operation.

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.