This small article is intended not so much to tell as to show the remarkably beautiful ceramic murals on the facades of European cities.
Most of them date back to the Art Nouveau period, when the architecture of European cities acquired a special charm, getting picturesque ceramics on their facades.
Another part – to old examples, such as the Portuguese azulejos of the 17th-18th centuries, which we wrote about in our article Arabian Traditions of Portuguese Majolica.
Some came from the Ottoman Empire and carry the distinct features of Muslim ornamentalism.
There’s an especially great number of ceramic murals on the facades of the Dutch and Belgian cities, which is probably due to the rich ceramic traditions of the Netherlands, where the world famous Delft craftsmen worked.
Mainly, the plots of such facades are a variety of Art Nouveau floral ornaments using images of gramineous plants, thistles and other wildflowers beloved by artists of that era.
However, images of female heads with their hair spread out gathering in a bizarre ornament are not uncommon and are characteristic of Art Nouveau.
The most famous German panel Fürstenzug (Procession of Princes) created by the artist Wilhelm Walter in 1907 at the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory attracts tourists from all over the world to Dresden, as well as the Pfunds Molkerei (Pfund’s Dairy Shop), lined with ceramic murals produced by Villeroy & Boch.
In the UK, ceramic panels are a legacy of the Arts and Crafts movement, although they are not as widely represented as in continental Europe.
Read more about the movement in our article on William Frend de Morgan.
Italy is striking in the beauty of its ceramics, which has its roots in the Renaissance.
Read more about it on the Italian Renaissance page.
A lot of ceramics have been preserved in France: wonderful ceramic murals Brasserie La Cigale in Nantes restored in 1965, in the Mollard brasserie restaurant, which is recommended for visiting just for the sake of luxurious interiors.
Spain has a long ceramic tradition since the Middle Ages, when the Moors ruled on the peninsula. Therefore, the wealth of Spanish ceramic panels often surpasses any others.
Read about Spanish ceramics in our article Spanish Ceramics – a Jewel of Moorish Andalusia
It will just suffice to mention the stunning ceramic murals in the Plaza de España in Seville, where each panel depicts scenes from the history of the Spanish provinces. Or the multicolored panels of Alcazar covering the walls of the castle chambers with a flowery carpet of complex baroque ornaments.
The wonderful landscapes of Tarragona and Seville: mountain ranges, small villages on the slopes, lush vegetation of the south – all this is masterfully transferred to ceramics by Spanish artists and seems to live on the walls of Spanish houses.
Portugal is rich in its azulejos, however, in addition to traditional cobalt baroque panels on the facades, multicolor paintings with landscapes and pastoral scenes are often found.
Unfortunately, in Russia, ceramics on the facades have been preserved worse than in Europe. Numerous wars and revolutions did not spare the architecture of our cities.
However, Russian restorers are recovering a lot, so we can see the work of Abramtsevo ceramists, Kuznetsovsky factories, and of Geldwein-Vaulin on the facades of old houses in different cities of the country.
The palace interiors are better preserved, therefore ceramic murals of the Livadia and Massandra palaces are intact and adorn their walls.
Today in Russia there is a return to the traditions of the past, people recall many artistic and architectural techniques of past eras, so the ceramic murals takes its rightful place in the interiors and facades to turn an ordinary building into a unique work of art.
In conclusion of this article we would like to remind you that our atelier produces custom-made ceramic murals in various styles and movements of art