Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche in Faenza

Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche in Faenza

Faenza: majolica from 15th to 17th century

After the “archaic” period the majolica pieces were refined under the technological aspect, thanks to a more brilliant and thicker glaze, and with an articulate decorative repertoire characterized by a rich palette of colors.
Beside the blue color, which often prevailed, stood out the green and different shades of yellow : cool (“cedrino”) and warm (“pavona”). During the early Renaissance particular kinds of decoration, also called “families”, were created . The gothic influenced “gotico-floreale” were flanked by decorations inspired to byzantine, Arabian, and far Eastern motifs such as the relief "zaffera", the “Italian-Moorish”, the “peacock feather’s eye”, the “Persian little palm” and the “porcelain” style.

 

Between the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century the ceramic decorations gained several motifs from the Renaissance, in particular they focused on the human figure, initially they were idealized images, such as the love vessels with the portraits of the “belle”, the beautiful beloved women and later they developed true “istorie”, historical narrations. Since the first decades of the 16th century, when the “istoriato” style reached its peak , the potters in Faenza used to decorate the refined vessels with stories from the mythology, the holy Bible, the Roman history, they were drawn up from engravings and illustrations.The figurative genre included also a small but precious production of little sculptures, most of them were ink-stands, with devotional and secular subjects.

 

Another typical characteristic of the ceramic production of the local workshop during the Renaissance was the bluish-grey glaze (“berretino”) painted allover the surface and decorated with festoons, fruits, leafy spirals motifs, with “grotesques”, “trophies” made up of arms and musical instruments, the latest also painted with colored glazes on a white background. In the middle of the 16th century the decorations on the majolica surface became more and more refined and elaborated and covered allover the background reaching interesting decorative results such as the “quartieri” (panels) motif.

 

A similar decorative vividness characterized the more popular “geometrico-fiorito”, geometrical, flowered motif majolica wares. Actually the real fortune of the potters in Faenza was represented by the creation of a style in opposition with the largely decorated and colored majolica pieces, those ceramics were characterized by an overall thick white glaze, they were called “Faenza white”.
The more and more elaborated shapes, often characterized by moulded and interlacing motifs, contrasted with the simplification of the decoration, sometimes not present or just sketched with light and essential brush stokes, from which the term “compediario” arose to indicate the pictorial style. The fortune of the “Faenza white” lasted from the half of the
16th to the whole 17th century supported by the appreciation for the works produced by Calamelli, Bettisi and Enea Utili workshops, just to mention the best known.