C. Drury E. (Charles Drury Edward) Fortnum.

Maiolica online

. (page 10 of 12)
Online LibraryC. Drury E. (Charles Drury Edward) FortnumMaiolica → online text (page 10 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

appears that many of his pieces were subsequently enriched with
the golden and ruby lustre colour at the botega of M° Giorgio,
and M° N at Gubbio ; and, indeed, it was mainly by the observa-
tion of these, so distinctly painted and signed by Xanto at
Urbino, and to which the metallic reflet had been added
evidently by a subsequent process, that it was inferred that the
lustre was a special enrichment applied at another fabrique to
works painted elsewhere. Of Xanto's style and merits as an
artist Mr. Robinson writes :

" Xanto's works may be considered to represent perfectly the
' Majoliche istoriate/ and he certainly had a talent for the
arrangement of his works in composition, nearly all his subjects
being ' pasticci ' ; the various figures or groups introduced being
the invention of other artists copied with adroit variations over
and over again, and made to do duty in the most widely different
characters. As au original artist, if indeed he can be so con-
sidered, he may be classed with the more mannered of the
scholars of RarTaeile. His designs are generally from classical or
mythological subjects. Xanto's execution, although dexterous, is


monotonous and mechanical ; his scale of colouring is crude and
positive, full of violent oppositions ; the only merit, if merit it be,
being that of a certain force and brightness of aspect ; in every
other respect his colouring is commonplace, not to say disagree-
able even; blue, crude opaque yellow, and orange tints, and
bright verdigris green are the dominant hues, and are scattered
over the pieces in full unbroken masses, the yellow especially
meeting the eye at the first glance. In the unsigned pieces,
before 1531, the glaze is better and more transparent, the execu-
tion more delicate, and the outline more hard and black than in
the later specimens. Some of Xanto's wares are profusely
enriched with metallic lustres, including the beautiful ruby tint ;
these specimens, however, form but a small per-centage of the
entire number of his works extant. This class of piece is, more-
over, interesting from the fact that the iridescent colours were
obviously not of Xanto's own production, but that on the
contrary, they were applied to his wares by M° Giorgio, and the
supposed continuers of Giorgio's ' fabrique ' in Gubbio. Many
pieces are extant, which, in addition to Xanto's own signature,
nearly always written in dark blue or olive tint, are likewise
signed with the monagram N of the Giorgio school in the lustre
tint ; and one specimen at least has been observed which, though
painted by Xanto, has been signed in the lustre tint by Maestro
Giorgio himself."

We cannot entirely agree with this somewhat severe judgment
upon his artistic merits.

We have no evidence to confirm Passeri's supposition that
Battista Franco painted pieces and initialled them with the
letters B. F. V. F. That artist was called to Urbino in 1540, by
Guidobaldo II., to make designs for various pieces, and these
initials are on some of the vases in the Spezierii at Lore to. He
returned to Venice where he died in 1561 ; ore of his cartoons
for a plate is in the British museum, and others are preserved.

Of Francesco Durantino, of Urbino, we I now nothing more


than his signed works, and one of these gives rise to the question
whether he ought to be ranked among the potters of Urbino, or
as having a small establishment of his own at Bagnolo, or Bagnara,
near Perugia. A plate in the British museum representing the
meeting of Coriolanus and his mother is signed "fracesco durantino
1544," as in the woodcut.

•fr^ce/a duTKptinf


<, 4-4"

A yellow tone of flesh, flowing drapery, animals (particularly
horses) drawn with great vigour of action, a fine and delicate
outline, with careful execution but occasional weakness of effect
and a peculiar softness on some of the smaller and more distant
figures, are characteristic of this artist's style : the landscapes are
executed with care and good effect. An example in the British
museum has, however, all the richness of colour and force of the
works of the Fontana.

Guido Merlingo or Merlini or Nerglino seems to have
been a proprietor of a botega in Urbino, although his name does
not occur as the actual painter.

In the Brunswick museum a dish representing Mark Antony is
signed, " fate in botega di Guido de Nerglino." In the Louvre is
a plate, subject Judith and Holophemes, signed at the back, "ne
1 55 1 fato in Botega de Guido Merlino."

C/esare da Faenza worked in his fabrique about 1536, as
proved by an agreement dated 1st January in that year, in which
he is styled " Cassare Care Carii Faventinus."

152 MAI O LIC A.

Among other recorded names are those of —

Federigo di Giannantonio^ \

Nicolo di Gabriele, C who worked about 1530.

Gian Maria Mariana, \

Simone di Antonio Mariani, about 1542.

Rafaelle Ciarla,

Luca del fu Bartolomco, about 1544, and

Guy, f7'om Castel Durante.

Francesco Silvano had a botega in Urbino, at which Xanto
worked in 1 541, as proved by the signature on a plate representing
the storming of Goleta.

Georgio Picchi or Picci the younger, of the Durantine
family, painted at Urbino. Pieces signed by him are extant.
Borders of Cupids among clouds or covering the surface is a
favourite decoration.

In the decline of the Urbino potteries must be placed the
productions of the members of the Patanati or Patanazzi
family. They do not appear to have succeeded to any of the
former eminent artists as masters of a fabrique, but painted at the
establishment of Joseph Batista Boccione, as we are informed by
a signed example. Passeri only mentions them as being of a
noble family and as finding their names inscribed on specimens
which he instances. One of these is at South Kensington ; a
large dish, no. 2612, signed ALF . P . F . VRBINI . 1606.
The young Vincenzio is the last whose name occurs. Passeri cites
a piece by him, "Vincenzio Patanazzi da Urbino di eta d'anni
tredici, 1620."

Another piece by this youthful phenomenon is in the collection
of monsignore Cajani at Rome, representing the expulsion from
paradise. It is a most inferior production and not meritorious
even for so young an artist.

With the exception of some large dishes and a few others the
wares of Urbino, as a rule, are not ornamented on the reverse.
The more usual pieces are edged with a yellow line which is

MA 10 LIC A. 153

repeated round the foot or central hollow, in the middle of which
the titular inscription or date is written in manganese black, dark
olive, or blue colour. The paste is sometimes of a pink hue,
produced by the colour of the clay shining through the glaze, but
in other cases of a purer white. In the " sopra bianco " gro-
tesques the ground is rendered unusually white by an additional
surface of terra di Vicenza or bianco di Ferrara ; the glaze is of
fine quality and even surface. It may be here noticed that the
wares known of the Lanfranco fabrique at Pesaro have similar
characteristics, and it is not possible to distinguish between them.
That wares of a better class were occasionally produced at Urbino
during the last century is proved by a lamp in the South Ken-
sington collection, no. 6856 ; made, as the inscription tells us, at
the Fabrica di Majolica firm, which seems to have been established
or conducted in that city in 1773 by a French artist named Rolet.
We hear of him previously at Borgo San Sepolcro in 1771, but all
further record of his productions or his success is unknown.

We are not aware that Urbino at present produces any artistic


Borgo San-Sepolcro, Diruta, &c.

There is an example of the Borgo San-Sepolcro ware at
South Kensington, a lamp, formed of faience of a bluish white
shade, painted with garlands of flowers, &c. in colour, on which
is written under the foot, " Citta Borgo S. Sepolcro a 6 Febraio
1 77 1. Mart. Roletus fecit."

At San Quirico cardinal Chigi established a work about 17 14,
inspired with the idea of reviving the art of painting on faience.
It was directed by Piezzentili, a painter who had given some
study to the celebrated vases by Orazio Fontana. On his death
Bartolomeo Terchi, Feschi, or Ferchi, seems to have worked at
or directed the establishment, for in the Louvre is a plaque
representing Moses striking the rock, and signed " Bar Terchi
Romano in S. Quirico." We shall meet with this wandering artist
also at Bassano. With other members of his family he seems to
have worked at various potteries throughout Italy, and examples
occur on which his or their signatures appear, accompanied
only by the patronymic " Romano" and which are of course
difficult to assign to any one of the fabriques at which we know
them to have worked.

Ferdinando Maria Campani before going to Siena worked also
at this fabrique ; its productions were not sold, but given as
presents by the cardinal.

We have very little positive information in respect to the
fabrique of Diruta in the Papal States. Alluded to by Passeri

MAI LIC A. 155

as a pottery near Foligno where pieces were produced remark-
able for the whiteness of the paste, we are led to the supposition
that he may have confounded the wares produced at other neigh-
bouring localities with those made at Diruta : and he does not
inform us whether it produced lustred wares or only those of
polychrome decoration. A few years since certain plates came
under the notice of collectors inscribed " In Deruta," the
subjects painted in blue outline, and lustred with a brassy golden
colour. Doubt and uncertainty had long existed as to the spot
where the large " bacili " and other pieces of a well-known and
abundant ware, lustred with a golden pigment of peculiarly pearly
effect in certain lights, had been produced, and the discovery of
these signed examples, having a somewhat similar metallic enrich-
ment, caused connoisseurs to grasp at the, perhaps hasty, con-
clusion, that to Diruta must be assigned those wares of earlier
date and hitherto unknown locality, and that Diruta must have
possessed a pottery of very early time and important character.
But after an examination and comparison of signed specimens,
and others which are with reasonable probability considered to be
of this fabrique, we are compelled to conclude that the produc-
tions of Diruta were generally inferior to, and in many instances
copied or derived from, those of the Gubbio or earlier Pesaro types.

Castel di Diruta or Deruta is a " borgo " or dependency of
Perugia, on the road from that city to Orvieto by Todi. It is
but a few miles from Perugia, within an easy day's journey of
Gubbio, and although it may be reasonable to presume that
potteries existed there from an early period, we think it more
probable that they derived the use of the lustre pigments from

It is extremely difficult in many instances to decide with any
degree of certainty as to whether some individual early specimens
of the lustred ware alluded to above, be of Pesaro, of Gubbio, or
of Diruta workmanship. We have little hesitation in assigning the
dish in the next woodcut to Diruta ; the dance of Cupids is after



Marc Antonio. The similarity of the process necessary to such
productions entails a corresponding similarity of result, but we
notice a somewhat coarser grounding, a golden reflet of a brassy
character, a ruby, when it (rarely) occurs, of pale dull quality,

looser outlines ol a colder and heavier blue, and in the pieces not
lustred the same tones of colour, a dark blue approaching to that
of Caffaggiolo in depth but wanting its brilliancy, the use of a
bright yellow to heighten the figures in grotesques, &c. in imita-
tion of the golden lustre, and a thin green. The drawing is
generally of an inferior stamp, and a certain tout ensemble per-



vades the pieces difficult to define but which more or less

The discovery within the last few years of a fine work, signed
with the artist's monogram, the date 1527, and the place at which

it was painted, is all we know of the existence of a botega at
Fabriano. There can be little doubt that many such local
and individual furnaces existed during the sixteenth century
under the direction of ceramic artists, in many instances an
emigrant from one of the more important centres, and encouraged
to set up for himself at another city by the patronage of the lead-


ing families. This plate, which has for subject the " Madonna
della Scala" after Marc Antonio's engraving from RafTaelle, is
cleverly painted, and on the reverse is the inscription of which
we have given a facsimile. It was exhibited by M. Spitzer, ot
Paris, at the " Exposition Universelle," was purchased from him
by signor Alff . Castellani, and subsequently sold at Christie's for
^"114. Another example by the same hand, and with the same
subject but without signature, was sold at the same sale.

In the museum of Economic geology is a plate of the same
botega, having for subject the rape of Proserpine surrounding a
cupid centre. It is painted in grisaille, the sky warmed with
touches of yellow, and ably executed. This fabrique not being
then known it was ascribed to Urbino, but the monogram on the
reverse, exactly corresponding with that on the signed Fabriano
piece, proves it to be of the same origin. We also give this
mark in fac-simile.

The pottery of Viterbo is not recorded by any writer, but an
inferior work at South Kensington is inscribed with the name of
the city and with that of Diomeo, who was perhaps the painter
of the piece in 1544. It is a rough piece, rudely coloured and
ill-drawn, but interesting from the name of place and the date.



We give an engraving of a portion of the border, the hand of a
youth holding a scroll. Two other examples are with some
doubt referred to the same locality.

Loreto is named in connexion with the set of Spezieria vases,.
of the fabrique of Orazio Fontana, which were presented to the
shrine of our Lady of Loreto by the last duke of Urbino, on his
abdication in favour of the Holy See. It was the habit to collect
the dust gathered from the walls of the Santa Casa and the dress
of the Virgin, from which, mixed in small quantities with the
potters clay, cups or bowls were formed and painted with figures
of the Virgin and Child, generally on a yellow ground. These
cups were inscribed outside CON ■ POL ■ DI ' S * CASA (with
the dust of the Holy House). Occasionally, but less frequently,

160 MAI LIC A.

some of the holy water from the shrine was sprinkled on the dust,
thereby to impart a still greater sanctity. A cup so made is in the
writer's collection, and is inscribed CON • POL • ET ■ AQVA ■
DI * S • CASA (with dust and water of the Holy House). These
cups were probably presented as marks of favour to pilgrims who
had visited and probably enriched the sanctuary. Signor Raffaelli
believes that they were made at Castel Durante, for the establish-
ment at Loreto. The seal of the convent was affixed to them in
red wax.

Hitherto we have no published record of the former existence
of a manufactory of artistic enamelled pottery at Rome, that great
centre to which by her affluence and power at various periods of
history artists and objects of art have been drawn from their
native countries. We have no assurance that purely native
Roman art ever attained to any very high degree of excellence.
The Etruscans and the Greeks in Pagan times, the Byzantine
school of the middle ages, and at the period of the renaissance the
great Tuscan and Venetian artists worked in Rome upon those
monuments of genius of which she is so justly proud; but they
are possessions rather than native productions ; and it would
appear that even in so comparatively small a branch of artistic
manufacture she was indebted to a native of Castel Durante for
the establishment of a fabrique of maiolica. Had there been pre-
existing furnaces, producing wares of artistic merit, it would
hardly have been worth while for M° Diomede on the fall of the
dukedom of Urbino to bring his art to Rome. There is no
notice of any pieces of this ware inscribed as having been made
at Rome until the year 1600, when we find on two oviform
pharmacy vases of good outline, having each a pair of double
serpent handles and a domed cover surmounted by a knob, the
following inscriptions written on oval labels. On one vase
" Fatto in botega de M. Diomede Durante in Roma," and on
the other, of which we give a woodcut, " Fatto in Roma da Gio.
Pavlo Savino M.D.C." These vases are decorated on one side



with grotesques ably sketched in yellow, greyish blue, and orange
colours on a white enamel ground of considerable purity ; on the
other, a leafage diaper in the same tone of blue covers the like
ground. On one only, immediately above the inscribed oval, the
head of a buffalo is painted in dark blue, approaching to black, and
may refer to the locality of the botega, possibly in the vicinity

of the Via or Palazzo del Bufalo. These vases were for many
years in the possession of the Gaetani family, and were purchased
by the writer during his sojourn at Rome in the early part of
1870. The style of execution is in the manner of the Urbino
grotesque decoration of the Fontana fabrique, but has not that
delicacy, combined with artistic freedom and naivete, so remark-
able in the productions attributed to Camillo Fontana and other
contemporary artists working some fifty years before ; in certain
respects they have affinity to the work of M. Gironimo of Urbino.
Numerous examples of similar general character, but later in date
and of inferior execution, are frequently to be met with in the
shops at Rome and prove the production to have been abundant ;
specimens are in the South Kensington museum.

A manufacture of white glazed earthenware, as also of
" biscuit " porcelain, was introduced by the famous engraver



Giovanni Volfiato, of Venice, in the year 1790. He expended a
large sum of money in making experiments and in the founding
of the works, as also in procuring numerous models which were
executed with the greatest care from the antique, and from other
objects in museums, &c. as also from the works of Canova. At
one time no less than twenty experienced artists were employed
in modelling the "biscuit " porcelain to supply the great demand.
Large furnaces were constructed, but the great expense and risk
in the production of pieces for table use necessitated their sale at
a price which could not compete with the French wares, although
superior in the qualities of strength and resistance. The estab-
lishment continued until about 1832, when the works ceased.

The figures and groups in " biscuit " porcelain, of pure white
and stone colour (variations arising from the different degrees of
heat to which they were exposed in the oven) were undoubtedly
the more important artistic productions of the Roman fabrique ;
but glazed pottery, very similar in character to that of Leeds or
the " Queen's ware " of the Wedgwoods and known as " terraglia
verniciata," was also made, and in this material statuettes, figures
of animals, candelabra, vases, and portrait busts were modelled.
There can be little doubt that the finer examples were produced
at the period when the elder Volpato perfected the establishment,
and when his critical and artistic eye directed his modellers, and
many of the figures and groups are admirable for their grace and
careful execution. Few bear any mark, but occasionally pieces,
both of the " biscuit " and glazed ware, bear the name G "
Volpata * Roma • impressed in the clay.

A manufacture of coarse glazed pottery rudely ornamented
with figures, flowers, fruit, &c. in colour, still exists in the
Trastevere, which supplies the contadini and the humbler classes
of the city with pots and pans of various form and startling



That long and rather monotonous old post road the Via
./Emilia (now run sidelong by the rail) which forms almost a
straight line from Piacenza to Ancona, through one of the richest
countries in the world, after passing the fine cities of Parma,
Reggio, Modena, and Bologna, reaches Faenza and Forli,
important and early centres of the potter's art.

Faenza is a small dull town on the site of the Roman Faventia,
and of the antiquity of the ceramic industry at this site there can
be no doubt, although perhaps Pesaro, Caffaggiolo, and Castel
Durante may have nearly equal claims in that respect. Of its
extent and importance there is equal certainty, and there is more-
over great reason to believe that the French word faience applied
•to this class of pottery was derived from the name of the place ;
although there is another claimant in the small town, under the
Estrelle mountains, a short way from Cannes and Grasse, called
"by the very name, Faiance {Faventia), and now chef-lieu of a
canton in Draguignan of the Var. Mezerai, in his Grande
Histoire, tells us that this place was chiefly renowned for its
Vaisselles de terre, and there would seem to be good evidence of
the existence of its potteries from a very early period to the
•present day ; but of what degree of artistic merit we are
unable to decide ; neither can we feel assured that the name, as
applied to enamelled earthenware, was derived from the French
town and not from the Italian city. In Mr. Marryat's history of

M 2


pottery and porcelain is an interesting notice on this subject,,
from which we quote a few words. " Faience, Fayence, or
Fayance, is the old French term, under which were comprised all
descriptions of glazed earthenware, even inclusive of porcelain,
and, to a certain extent, continues so, corresponding in its general
use to the English word crockery. The name is commonly
supposed to be derived from Faenza ; but it may well be doubted
whether upon any authority much to be relied upon, since neither
historians nor topographers seem to have considered , the matter
worthy of their attention or examination. It might be useful to
trace the origin of a name so frequently given by the Romans to
their settlements. Besides Faenza there was a district in their
colony of Barcinum (now Barcelona), and another in Andalusia,
which is supposed to have been situated somewhere between
Alcala, Real, and Antequera. The old word Fayence, from the
Latin 'fagus,' a beech tree, has become almost obsolete in
France. In Geneva, however, to the present day, beechwood is
still sold in the timber markets as ' de la fayence.' "

The fabrique of Faenza has been a kind of refuge, among
amateurs, for pieces destitute of sufficient outward sign to mark
them as of other localities ; and every gaunt and early piece,
strong in blue and yellow colour, has been set down as Faentine.
We agree with MM. Jacquemart and Darcel in the belief that
many works of Caffaggiolo have been classed as of Faenza. We
are, however, not convinced that the plaque in the hotel Cluny,.
the piece bearing the most ancient date hitherto discovered (if we
except that at Sevres, inscribed xxxxiiimii., and supposed to read
1448), inscribed in early characters around the sacred monogram,.
attributed to Caffaggiolo instead of to Faenza. Another plaque
in the Sevres collection is dated 1477, with the name and anns of
NICOLAVS ' ORSINI. We next arrive at the exquisite
service, of which seventeen pieces are preserved in the Correr



museum at Venice, one in the writer's (from Pourtales), and one
in the South Kensington collection \ we give a woodcut of the
mark, with the date 1482.

The first published matter bearing upon the wares of Faenza is
the passage by Garzoni in the Piazza Universale, a publication of
1485, in which he speaks of the pottery of this place as excellent
for its whiteness, &c. che fa le majoliche cost bianehe e polite, a
remark borne out by the quality of the service just referred to. In
the church of St. Petronio at Bologna is a pavement of tiles
covering the ground of the chapel of St. Sebastian, and without
doubt laid down at the expense of Donato Vaselli, a canon of
that Basilica, who about 1487 decorated that chapel at his own
cost. The date upon one of these tiles is 1487, and upon others
are inscriptions, in parts unfortunately imperfect from the injury
or misplacement of some of the squares, but which as put

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12

Online LibraryC. Drury E. (Charles Drury Edward) FortnumMaiolica → online text (page 10 of 12)