Faience, noun

In English, faience is the term for fine tin-glazed pottery on a delicate, pale buff earthenware body. The word is French in origin, dating to when wares were exported into that country from Faenza, in northern Italy. At Swann Auction Galleries' September 19-20, 2016 Prints & Drawings Auction in New York, eleven terre de faience ceramics by Pablo Picasso came up for bid. Two vases depicting human faces led the run: Laughing-Eyed Face from 1969 (shown, $42,000); and Bearded Man from 1953 ($25,000). Both prices include the buyer's premium.

The invention of a white pottery glaze suitable for painted decoration, by the addition of an oxide of tin to the slip of a lead glaze, was a huge advance in the history of pottery. The invention may have been made in Iran or the Middle East, pre-9th century. A kiln capable of producing temperatures exceeding 1,830 degrees Farenheit was required to achieve this result. The term is now used for a wide variety of pottery from several parts of the world, including many types of European painted wares, often produced as cheaper versions of porcelain styles.