Eine Auktionsreise nach London mit Ausflug in das Victoria & Albert Museum
Nürnberger Hafnerkrug aus der Werkstatt von Paul Preuning ca. 1545-1555
in der Keramik Abteilung des Museums
Earthenware jug decorated with coloured glazes and applied moulded decoration depicting the Adoration of the Magi and Massacre of the Innocents, workshop of Paul Preuning, Nuremberg, Germany, about 1545-55
Public access description
This handsome jug was made in the workshop of Paul Preuning of Nuremberg in about 1545-55. It is typical of the brightly-coloured lead-glazed wares decorated with applied moulded relief decoration which were produced at Preuning’s pottery outside the Tiergarten Gate of Nuremberg from the mid-1540s for at most fifty years.
The distinctive style of Preuning’s pots derives from the traditional local manufacture of stove tiles. At first usually plain green or brownish-black, such tiles decorated stoves which heated grand buildings such as palaces and abbeys. Bright polychrome glazes were introduced from about 1500 and in the 16th century were added relief mouldings after engraved designs and niches containing modelled figures.
Preuning’s wares were produced in the main for a fairly local market – that is to say, for sale in Nuremberg, throughout Germany and possibly to other lands of the Holy Roman Empire. Their decorative style and subject matter were tailored to German tastes. This vessel, probably intended for display rather than use, is decorated with scenes from the Gospels showing the Adoration of the Magi and the Massacre of the Innocents.
Object history note
This handsome jug was made in Nuremberg, one of the biggest towns of the Holy Roman Empire with a population of about 45,000 by the end of the 16th century. As a Free Imperial City in the centre of Europe, it became very wealthy and fostered artistic endeavour and scientific enterprise. Among Nuremberg’s talented artists in 16th century were Durer (painter and engraver), Veit Stoss (sculptor and wood-carver), and Wenzel Jamnitzer (goldsmith).
Paul Preuning’s pottery outside the Tiergarten Gate of Nuremberg flourished from the mid-1540s as is deduced from a combination of documentary sources, excavated material from the site and subject-matter used. Pots from his workshop are quite distinctive with their range of bright glazes and repertoire of moulded relief figures. A relief mould (formerly in the possession of Alfred Walcher von Molthein) depicting Prince Elector Johann Friedrich of Saxony was excavated on the Preuning workshop site. It was almost certainly made between 1548 and 1551 as Johann Friedrich is shown as a prisoner in a simple robe without sword or chain (he was released in 1551). Another relief mould with Preuning’s dancing peasants is preserved at the Kunstmuseum, Frankfurt.
Some later work exists which appears similar to the pots from Preuning’s workshop but this comes from Austria as former apprentices from Preuning’s pottery took their skills and glaze recipes to Salzburg and Upper Austria. However, they could not take the Preuning moulds with them so their use of their own moulds distinguishes the work from that of the Preuning workshop.
Historical significance: Unlike Rhineland stonewares, Preuning’s wares were not exported in large quantities. The output from his workshop was relatively small and at most of 50 years‘ duration. Nor do the jugs survive in any quantity. Most seem to have been produced for the local i.e. Nuremberg market, for Germany and possibly other lands of the Holy Roman Empire. Their decorative style and subject matter were tailored to German tastes. In France, the market was for the more finely-moulded, less solid and less brightly-glazed wares of Bernard Palissy. Although the moulded figures which Preuning applied to his pots straightforward to make and quite quick to apply, the skill was in the overall design scheme, the placing of the figures, the making of the original moulds and in the glazing with several colours. The master often made variations to the stock moulded figures or varied their glazing scheme. It would have been possible to decorate several pots simultaneously as several employees could each work with copies of the moulds and their own colour supplies.
Many motifs derived from Mannerist engravings by Italian masters such as by Enea Vico who did vase designs after the antique, metalwork designs by Riccio, Cellini and Giulio Romano, and paintings by Raphael and Rosso Fiorentino.
Other subjects which appear on important Preuning jugs include:
– The Electors of the Holy Roman Empire (Walters Art Museum, Baltimore)
– The town of Nuremberg (Kunstgewerbe Museum, Cologne)
– Nuremberg buildings (Metropolitan Museum, New York)
– The Judgement of Paris (on four jugs including one in the Kunstgewerbe Museum,
– Adam and a lion with Eve and a deer (V&A)
– Adam and Eve used in combination with Christ in Gesthemane, the Sacrifice of
Abraham and the Adoration of the Magi (the latter containing figures used on the V&A
– Crucifixion group including the Virgin and St. John (Mainfraenkisches Museum,
– Armed figures each side of a tree (V&A)
– A stag hunt (V&A, formerly from Coombe Abbey, Coventry – the Countess of
Craven’s sale at Christies, 11/12 April 1923 lot 6)
Historical context note
Preuning’s pots fall into a category known as „Hafner ware“ which refers to stove tiles made first with green lead glaze and later also in brownish-black. These tiles decorated stoves which heated grand buildings such as palaces and abbeys. Bright polychrome glazes were introduced from about 1500 and in 16th century were added relief mouldings after engravings by the Kleinmeister and niches containing modelled figures. Nuremberg was then one of the most important centres for stove-making in Germany. Preuning’s jugs derived from this work with their bright glazes and applied leaves, stems, threads and relief-moulded figures. Preuning’s jugs were formerly assigned to the engraver and designer Augustin Hirchvogel (1503-c.1553) as he was known to be associated with some Nuremberg potters in 1531, but his wares were later discovered to be too early and he is now thought insteadto have made maiolica plates in the Venetian style.
Although a large decorated Preuning jug could in theory be used for water, it is far more likely that this splendid luxury item was for display only. Some jugs were specially commissioned. By the 17th century, the status of Hafner ware jugs declined to a „peasant“ craft and with the Thirty Years‘ War, Nuremberg itself declined from its ascendant position.
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
W.B. Honey, European Ceramic Art. Illustrated historical survey, London, 1949, pl.16A, and Dictionary, 1952, p.456.
Otto von Falke, Das Sigmaringer Museum III: Kunstgewerbe der Renaissance, in Pantheon I, Jan.-June 1928, p.179
Robin Hildyard, European Ceramics, London: V&A, 1999, pp.11-13
Alfred Walcher von Molthein, Der Fertiger (Paulus Preuning) der sogenannten Hirschvogelkruege, in Kunst und Kunsthandwerk, 1904, v.7, p.486ff.
Alfred Walcher von Molthein, Arbeiten der Nurnberger Hafnerfamilie, in Kunst und Kunsthandwerk, 1905, v.8, p.134ff.
Alfred Walcher von Molthein, Beitraege zur Geschichte Deutscher Keramik: Die Deutschen Hafnerarbeiten der Sammlung Bondy in Wien, in Altes Kunsthandwerk, Band I Heft 1, Vienna, 1927
Ingolf Bauer, Keramik des 16. Jahrhunderts als Religiöses Zeichen?, in Zeitschrift fuer Bayerische Landesgeschichte, 2005 vol.68, pp.541-553