Leventis calling: Ceramic art, Craft and Tales from Medieval Cyprus at Fitzwilliam Museum

By Ben Miller | 19 July 2012
A photo of a circular medieval bowl in gold with black and green designs around it
© Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Exhibition: Ceramic art, Craft and Tales from Medieval Cyprus, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until September 23 2012

Since opening in 1989, the Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with The Fitzwilliam Museum.

This exhibition, held in honour of Constantine Leventis (a late member of the philanthropic family), presents 47 ceramics from the 13th to 16th centuries, including colourful examples of sgraffito, a technique applying two layers before scratching at them to produce a drawing.

Much of it reflects the mores of the eventual rulers of medieval Cyprus: seized by the crusading Richard the Lionheart in 1191, the island was sold to former Jerusalem King Guy de Lusignan, whose French roots turned the Byzantine province into a ceramic-rich feudal kingdom between the late 12th and 15th centuries.

Women are shown in suave European dresses, with men in short tunics adorned with wrist falcons.

Elsewhere there are wedding scenes, dancers, coats of arms, flowers, fish, birds and flourishes of bright Mediterranean finesse, given a distinctive local twist by the Cypriot clay sources they are crafted in.

“We're hugely indebted to the generosity of both Demosthenis Severis and the Leventis Municipal Museum for making it possible to display this exhibition in Cambridge this summer,” says Timothy Potts, the Fitzwilliam Director, calling the display “enchanting”.

“These beautiful ceramics offer vivid glimpses of life in Medieval Cyprus which will have special appeal to amateur and professional potters working in Britain.”

  • Open 10am-5pm (12pm-5pm Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, closed Monday). Admission free.

More pictures:

A photo of a circular yellow coloured bowl with an illustration of a fish revolving inside
© The Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia

A photo of a circular brown dish with an illustration of a headed creature with fish-like scales inside it
© The Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia

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