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Ceramic art, craft and tales from Medieval Cyprus

Glimpses of Medieval Cypriot life and art are on show this summer in a special exhibition of ceramics from the 13th to 16th centuries.

Featuring 47 works from the Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia, along with 8 from the Fitzwilliam’s own collection, these beautiful ceramics combine colourful glazes with lively ‘sgraffito’ and slip-painted techniques to provide vivid insights into the life and crafts of Medieval Cyprus.

Medieval Cyprus was a melting pot of different cultures, influenced by a succession of invaders and occupiers. In 1191 the island was seized from the control of the Byzantine Empire by King Richard the Lionheart of England, on his way to the Holy Land for the Third Crusade.

Richard sold the island on to the deposed King of Jerusalem, the French-born Guy de Lusignan, and Cyprus was rapidly transformed from a Byzantine province into a Medieval French feudal kingdom that lasted for three centuries (1192-1489). It was in this period that most of the pottery on show was produced.

The designs on the pots reflect the life-style of the ruling Frankish class. The women wear fashionable western European dress; the men appear in short tunics with falcons on their wrists; there are also possible wedding scenes, dancers and coats of arms. Birds, fish and other animals are also represented, along with floral and geometric motifs.

The Leventis Collection of Medieval Cypriot pottery is one of the finest and most extensive in the world. This exhibition provides a rare example to see these ceramics in the UK and to appreciate their unique perspective on medieval Mediterranean life.

Online highlights: Ceramic Art, Craft and Tales from Medieval Cyprus,

Tue 3 July 2012 to Sun 23 September 2012
Cyprus Gallery (Room 22)