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Plates of the four elements: fire

Placa del fuego, Alcora

№ inv.: CE1/01310

This oval ceramic plate has a Rocaille-style crest on its upper and lower parts and on both sides. It comes from the Royal Factory of Alcora and dates from the late 18th century. The white tin glaze with polychrome decoration represents the allegory of fire: Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and metalworking, is forging weapons for Mars, the god of war. Venus, the goddess of love and Vulcan’s wife, stands by his side. She is accompanied by Cupid with his bow and arrow. On the lower part there is a cartouche bearing the inscription “EL FUEGO” (“FIRE”).

This decorative plate belongs to a set of four that represent allegories of the four elements through figures of Greco-Roman mythology: Juno for air, Poseidon and Amphitrite for water, Gaia or Ceres for earth.

According to an engraving by Pierre Alexandre Aveline (1702-60), these scenes are copies of an original work by the French Rococo painter Charles Joseph Natoire (1700-77). There is a private collection in Alcora, where four copies of Aveline’s engravings are preserved. Together with the title of each scene they contain the inscription: “Gravé d’après le tableau de Charles Natoire, peintre du Roi, du cabinet de Mr. Dufor par P. Aveline”. (“Engraved from the painting of Charles Natoire, painter to the king, the cabinet of Mr Dufor by P. Aveline.”)

Engraving was a means of distributing pictures and a source of inspiration in many art forms, such as ceramics. It was usual in Alcora to decorate pieces with motifs copied from engravings.

This piece belongs to the Rocaille-style series introduced to the factory of Alcora by Joseph Olerys, who brought it from Marseille. The motifs of Rocaille works (plants, scrolls and moulded curves) are typical of the Rococo style.

On display in the Sala de Alcora (Alcora Room), second floor.


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