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that material.

From the increased use of decorative tiles and the encourage-
ment afforded to the production of artistic pottery, furnaces and
boteghe had been established in various parts of northern and
central Italy, particularly in Romagna, in Tuscany, and in the
lordship of Urbino, where the manufacture was patronized at an
early time by the ruling family, as also by the Sforza at Pesaro.
Here the first use of the metallic lustre would appear to have
been developed ; but we have even less historical evidence of the
date of its earliest introduction than in the case of the tin enamel.
Before that great improvement was adopted by any of the potteries
in Italy, the pearly, the golden, and the ruby lustre colours were
produced at Pesaro, and perhaps at Gubbio where it subse-
quently attained its greatest perfection. Pesaro being a coast town
of the Adriatic, and one where furnaces had long existed, would
form a ready asylum for oriental workmen fleeing from persecution
in their own country. It is reasonable to suppose that from them
the use of these metallic pigments was acquired, and accordingly
v/e find early pieces presumably of this fabrique, the decorative
" motif" on which is eastern to a marked degree. Painted wares
had been produced anterior to the use of the metallic pigments,


and among them specimens are occasionally found betraying
Persian influence in their design.

The outlines on the " mezza maiolica" of this period were
traced in manganese black or zaffre blue, with which last the
shadings are also indicated ; the flesh is left white. A certain
rigidity but truthfulness is observable in the design, crude and

wanting in relief, but precise and free from timidity. A moresque
border frequently surrounds a coat-of-arms, portrait busts in profile
of contemporary princes, or that of a saint or heathen goddess ;
or the sacred monogram ; or, again (betrothal gifts) a heart with
joined hands, as in the woodcut j or portraits of ladies with a
ribbon or banderole, on which the name is inscribed with a com-
plimentary adjective as " bella," " diva," and the like ; such are
the principal subjects of these early bacili.

The admirable " madreperla " lustre of these pieces, changing



in colour and effect with every angle at which the light is reflected
from their brilliant surface, is the leading characteristic and special
beauty of this class of wares, which must have been in great re-
quest and produced in considerable quantity. Pesaro and Diruta
lay claim to their production, and each fabrique has its champions.

We are inclined to ascribe the earlier and more important produc-
tions to Pesaro, and are disposed to consider the Diruta fabrique
as a subsequent and less important source of supply in respect to
the quality of the wares. These bacili are nearly all of the same
size and form ■ large heavy dishes of flesh-coloured clay with deep
sunk centres and a projecting circular " giretto " behind, forming
a foot or base ; this is invariably pierced with two lateral holes,


for the purpose of introducing a cord by which to suspend them
to the wall, thus proving that they were looked upon more as
decorative pieces (ftiatti di pompci) than for general use upon the
table ; the back is covered by a coarse yellow glaze, the front
having a surface whitened by slip and painted as above-mentioned.
The rim is sometimes ornamented in compartments (a quartiere),
or with chequered, " chevrone " or imbricated patterns, or con-
ventional flowers. Engraved (p. 31) is a fine plateau of early date :
no. 4078 at South Kensington.

The larger pieces of the period made at various places have a
certain general resemblance in the clumsy fashion, the dry archaic
style of drawing executed in blue outline, and in the diaper
patterns of the border. Glazed wares of polychrome and subject
decoration were no doubt produced before the introduction of the
lustre colours and, judging from examples which have come down
to us, the forms seem to have been partially derived from Persian,
Hispano-moresque, and other oriental originals ; deep dishes with
angular sides and narrow rims ; others with a wide border or side
sloping at a gradual angle from the small circular centre. The
gothic element is, however, traceable on some early pieces of
north Italian origin.

A more careful investigation of the records of Italian families,
and the archives of the many towns at which potteries formerly
existed, might throw considerable light on the history and estab-
lishment of the various fabriques and the marks and characteristics
of their productions ; but at present we can only form an approxi-
mate opinion by comparison of the examples existing in collections
with signed examples by the same hand. We agree in believing
with Passeri that the potteries of Pesaro were of very early date,
probably anterior to Gubbio, and think that full weight should be
given to his statement that the use of the lustre pigments was
introduced from the former to the latter fabrique, where it attained
to unsurpassed excellence under the able management and im-
provement of M°. Giorgio but whether the furnaces of Faenza and



Forli were of earlier or subsequent establishment to that of Pesaro
is still a matter of conjecture, and of CafTaggiolo and others we
have no record. Of the antiquity of these last there can be no
doubt. But although producing at the latter end of the fifteenth

and early in the sixteenth centuries some of the most exquisite
examples of artistic decoration and of the perfection of manufac-
ture in this class of ceramics, we are unable to find a single proof
of the use of the lustrous metallic tints, or a single example of
pottery so enriched, which can with probability be ascribed to



the Faenza furnaces. The same remark applies to other potteries
on the northern side of the Apennines.

The Piedmontese and Lombard cities do not appear to have
encouraged the potter's art to an equal extent in the 15 th
and 1 6th centuries, neither can we learn of any excellence at-
tained in Venice till the establishment of Durantine and Pesarese
artists at that city in the middle of the latter period. Possibly,
the fine dish (engraved p. 33) may be of that manufacture :
the costumes have a Venetian character. Perhaps commerce
did for the Queen of the Adriatic by the importation of Rhodian,
Damascus, and other eastern wares, what native industry sup-
plied to the pomp and luxury of the hill cities of Umbria ; for
it must be borne in mind that the finer sorts of enamelled or
glazed pottery, decorated by artistic hands, were only attainable
by the richer class of purchasers ; more modest wares or wooden
trenchers, and ancestral copper vessels, contenting the middle
class. The northern duchies, Ferrara, Rimini, and Ravenna,
also encouraged the art, but to a smaller extent than that of
Urbino. It would seem that the use of the white stanniferous
enamel did not become general in Italy until some years after
the death of Luca della Robbia, in 1481 ; and was not adopted
by the potters of Umbria before the end of the fifteenth century.


The history of the development, perfection, and decline of
the ceramic art of the renaissance in Italy is so intimately con-
nected with and centred round that of the dukedom of Urbino,
that in tracing its progress we must also briefly call to memory
the fortunes and the failures of that noble house.

In 1443 what had been but an unimportant mountain fief
was erected into a duchy, and the house of Montefeltro ruled
a fair territory in the person of the infamous Oddantonio, the
first duke of Urbino. On his violent death in 1444 Federigo,
his illegitimate brother, succeeded to the dukedom. Of en-
lightened mind, as well as of martial capacity, he developed
the native capabilities of the country and gathered about him
at the court of Urbino the science and learning of the period.
He built a noble castellated palace at Urbino, for the embellish-
ment of which he invited the leading artists of the day. A
patron of all art, and a great collector, he encouraged the manu-
facture of the maiolica wares which flourished under his reign.
On his death in 1482 his son Guidobaldo I. continued his
father's patronage to the ceramic artists of the duchy, although
much occupied in the Italian wars consequent on the French
invasion by Charles VIII. Passeri states that fine maiolica (by
which he means that covered with the tin enamel) was intro-
duced into Pesaro in 1500; and there is some reason to believe
that the new process came from Tuscany. It differed materially
in composition and manufacture from the " mezza majolica "
wares to which it was very superior, and was known as " Por*

i) 2

3 6 MAI LIC A.

cellana," a name applied at that period in Italy to the choicer
description of enamelled earthenware. Passeri also states that
in the inventory of the ducal palaces a large quantity of painted
"majolica" vases were included under this name. The superior
whiteness of the enamel, more nearly approaching to that of
oriental porcelain, was probably the reason for its adoption; but
we must not confound the term as used in this sense with its
technical meaning in reference to a decorative design known as
" a porcellana."

The introduction of the new enamel, which afforded a better
ground for painting, did not cause the use of the bright metallic
colours and prismatic glaze to be relinquished at those potteries
where it had become established, but it appears to have stimu-
lated a development in the artistic productions of other places,
the wares of which before that period were less attractive. The
botega of Maestro Giorgio at Gubbio seems to have been at
this time the great centre of the process of embellishment with
the golden and ruby metallic lustres ; and, indeed, we have
little or no knowledge of artistic pottery produced at that
fabrique which is not so enriched. From some technicality
in the process of the manufacture, some local advantage, or
some secret in the composition, almost a monopoly of its use
was established at Gubbio, for we have the evidence of well-
known examples that from the end of the first to the com-
mencement of the last quarter of the 15 th century many
pieces painted by the artists of Pesaro, Urbino, and Castel
Durante, were sent there to receive the additional enrich-
ment of the lustre colours. Pieces may be seen in collec-
t-ions signed in blue by the artist Francesco Xanto and others
which have been subsequently lustred at Gubbio, and again
signed in the metallic pigment by the " maestro " of that
botega. At Diruta also its use appears to have been ex
tensive though not to so exclusive a degree nor on wares of
such high character as at Gubbio, neither are we enabled by

MAI0L1CA. 37

the possession of examples to conclude that the works ot
other fabriques were sent to Diruta for the additional embel-

The crude drawing of the earlier ware improved very slowly ;
in 1502 tiles executed for the palace at Pesaro were still of sorry
design ■ but it developed by the introduction of half tints, the
colouring of the drapery, and in the composition of the groups
of figures, inspired by the works of Timoteo della Vite and
other artists of the Umbrian school. At Pesaro the art appears
to have attained its highest perfection at the botega of the Lan-
franco family, about 1540-45.

The establishment of the ducal Court at Urbino naturally
drew more favour to the potteries of that city, and of its near
neighbour Castel Durante. The latter of these appears also to
have been a seat of this industry from very remote times, and
not only to have furnished large quantities of glazed earthenware
but also artistic works of the highest merit. Castel Durante
not only produced fine wares at home but artists of great
ability emigrated from her, establishing themselves at various
places. Hence originally came the Fontana family, the most
important producers of the higher class of decorative pottery at
Urbino. At Venice Francesco Pieragnolo in 1545, accompanied
by his father Gian-Antonio da Pesaro, fonned a botega ; but
his wares are not among the earliest dated pieces made in that
city, where we know that M° Ludovico was producing admirable
works five years previously, and M° Jacomo da Pesaro in 1542.
A member of the Fontana family, Camillo, younger brother
of the celebrated Orazio, went to Florence, and another M°
Camillo to Ferrara in 1567, by the request of the then reign-
ing duke, Alfonso II.; in 1600 we find that Maestro Diomede
Durante had a pottery at Rome, producing pieces painted by
Gio. Paulo Savino, in the style of the Urbino grotesques on
white ground, which had been brought to such perfection by
the Fontana family. Another artist of this family, Guido di


Savino, is stated to have previously established himself at

At Urbino and Gubbio the shaped pieces, the vases, cisterns,
&c. were of large size admirably modelled, as, for instance, the
fine vase at South Kensington, no. 515, in the woodcut; they
were also richly " istoriata " with subjects from sacred and pro-

fane history, poetry, &c. : the produce of the celebrated Fontana
botega being, perhaps, the most important of them. Here also
worked the able artist Francesco Xanto, from 1530 to 1541
(latterly in the pottery of Francesco Silvano), so many of whose
painted pieces were subsequently decorated with ruby and gold
lustre at Gubbio.

From 1520 to 1540 the art constantly advanced in this duchy,
and had retained great perfection till 1560. It is probable that
the potteries at Castel Durante were of earlier foundation than
those at Urbino and, from their first establishment to the de-



cadence of the art were some of the most important and pro-
ductive furnaces of the duchy. Here several boteghe existed,
one of which was under the direction of the cavaliere Cipriano
Piccolpasso who, himself an artist and a professor of medicine,
was doubtless well advanced in the chemical knowledge of his
day. He worked about 1550, and has left the important and
interesting manuscript, entitled "Li tre libri dell' arte dell'
Vasajo," now in the library of the South Kensington museum.
This manuscript was printed and published at Rome in 1857,
and a translation in French at Paris in 1841, both editions with
engraved copies of the numerous designs.

Guidobaldo I. was succeeded in the dukedom by his nephew
Francesco Maria Delia Rovere, in 1508, who, incurring the
resentment of pope Leo the tenth, was obliged to retire into
Lombardy but was reinstated in 15 17. Rome was sacked in
1527, and history accuses Guidobaldo of having permitted the
horrible act without interfering to prevent it. He died from
poison in 1538 at Pesaro, whither he had retired after a re-
verseful life and reign. His duchess was the excellent Leonora
Gonzaga. She built a palace near Pesaro, known as the
" Imperiale," richly decorated by able artists among whom was
Raffaelle dal Colle, whose designs were also adopted for the
maiolica ware. The frequently repeated error of ascribing the
actual painting, as also the making designs for this ware, to the
great Raffaelle Sanzio may probably have arisen from the simi-
larity in the Christian names of these artists.

The development of the manufacture in the duchy of Urbino
may be considered to have attained its culminating point about
1540, after which, for some twenty years, it continued in great
excellence not only as regards the " istoriati," but more particu-
larly in the shaped pieces and dishes (of which we engrave an
example p. 40) decorated with the so-called *' Urbino arabesques "
on a clear white ground; the subjects painted in medallions,
surrounded by grotesques of admirable invention and execution,



after the style known as " RarTaellesque." But excellent and
highly decorative as are the finer products of this period from the
furnaces of the Fontana of Urbino, or of the Lanfranchi of

Pesaro, they want to the eye of the true connoisseur the senti-
ment and expressive drawing, the exquisite finish and delicacy,
the rich colour, and the admirable design of the earlier works
produced at the Casa Pirota in Faenza, at Forli, Castel Durante,
Siena, and CafTaggiolo, in the latter years of the fifteenth and the
first quarter of the sixteenth centuries, and by M° Giorgio at



Gubbio, many of which rival in beauty the exquisite miniature
illuminations of that palmy period of Italian art. The service in
the Correr museum in Venice, supposed to have been painted by
an unknown artist of Faenza and dated 1482, is of high quality ;

and we possess at South Kensington works by his hand, particu-
larly a plaque or tile (No. 69) on which is a representation ot
the Resurrection of our Lord, worthy of being ranked with the
highest productions of pictorial art. The borders of grotesques
on the plates of this earlier period differ greatly from those of the
Urbino factories of the middle time, being generally grounded on
dark blue or yellow, and executed with great delicacy of touch


and power of colouring ; the centres of the smaller pieces are
usually occupied by single figures, small medallion subjects,
portrait heads, amorini, shields-of-arms, &c. ; frequently they
were intended for " amatorii " or love tokens. Some of the
most careful and highly finished productions of M° Giorgio
are of this early time, before he was in the habit of signing with
the well-known initials M° G° ; the earliest so signed being the
admirable St. Francis tazzaat South Kensington, dated 15 17.

We may therefore affirm that the choicest works in Italian
pottery were produced during a period which extended from 1480
to 1520 or 1530; thence till 1560 was its meridian, although
some fine works were produced at Urbino by the Fontana till
1570 ; before that time the ruby lustre had been lost, and soon
after a rapid decline of design and execution reduces all to painful
inferiority. The woodcut (p. 41) is from a splendid dish, dated
1 533^ no - J74S, at South Kensington.

Guidobaldo II., who had succeeded to Francesco Maria in
1538, wanted the force of character and nice appreciation of
the higher literature and art which had distinguished his father ;
but he was a great patron of the ceramic productions of his
duchy, and sought to improve the designs used by painters on
pottery by the introduction of subjects of higher character and
composition. With this view, lavish of expense, he bought
original drawings by RarTaelle and the engravings of Marc
Antonio from that master's designs. He also made presents of
services to contemporary princes and friends. One, given to the
emperor Charles V., a double service, is mentioned by Vasari, the
vases of which had been painted from the designs of Battista
Franco, a Venetian, whom he had invited to Urbino. Another
service of which pieces are extant was given by the duke to
Andrea da Volterra, his confessor. For the Spezieria or medical
dispensary, attached to his own palace, he ordered a complete set
of vases and drug pots ; designs were prepared for these by
B. Franco and RarTaelle dal Colle and executed at the botega of

MAI0L1CA. 43

Orazio Fontana, by whom some of the pieces were painted.
They were subsequently presented by duke Francesco Maria II.
to the Santa Casa at Loreto, where the greater part of them are
still preserved. Some of them were engraved by Bartoli. The
story tells us that so highly were they esteemed by Christina of
Sweden that she offered to buy them for their weight of gold,
after a grand duke of Florence had more prudently proposed an
equal number of silver vessels of like weight.

Orazio Fontana, the great artist potter and painter of Urbino,
worked for the duke from 1540 to 1560 and carried the art to
the highest perfection. Passeri states that Orazio had no equal
in the execution of his paintings, the distribution of his colours,
and in the calculation of the effect of the fire upon them in the
production of his wares. He also quotes various contemporary
authors who speak of the excellence of the maiolica of this period.
After the death of Orazio Fontana and Battista Franco works of
an inferior class only were produced from the designs of the
Flemish engravers. From 1580 the decline of the art was rapid.
It met but small encouragement from duke Francesco Maria II.,
who succeeded in 1574, except during his residence at Castel
Durante where it still, though feebly, survived. He abdicated in
favour of the Holy See, and died in 163 1. The rich collections
of art then remaining at Urbino became the property of
Ferdinand de' Medici, who had married the duke's granddaughter,
and were removed to Florence.

Artistic manufactories had, in addition to those of the Umbrian
duchy, greatly increased in various parts of Italy under the
encouragement of powerful local families ; but none appear to
have attained to higher excellence than those of Tuscany. At
Caffaggiolo under the powerful patronage of the Medici, and at
Siena, some of the most excellent pieces of this beautiful pottery
were produced, rivalling but not surpassing the fine examples of

The Tuscan pieces are remarkable for their rich enamel, for



the force and brilliancy of the colours, and for the execution and
design of the grotesque borders and other decoration ; a deep
rich blue, a peculiar opaque but bright red, and a brilliant yellow,
are characteristic pigments. The existence of the former fabrique
has been made known to us only by the inscription of the name
on some few pieces preserved in cabinets. From their style and
the mark accompanying the inscription we are enabled to detect
many examples, some of which bear concurrent testimony in the
subjects connected with the history of the Medici family with

which they are painted. The well-known plate (in the woodcut)
on which a painter is represented engaged in executing the
portraits of a noble personage and his lady, who are seated near,


and which were supposed to be intended for RarTaelle and the
Fornarina, is a fine specimen of the work of perhaps the most
able artist engaged at this pottery. This beautiful example is
now in the South Kensington museum, acquired from the Bemal

At Siena also admirable works were produced but we are
disposed to think that their inspiration was derived from CarTag-
giolo, whence also her potters probably received instruction in
the application of the stanniferous enamel. Some pieces of the
latter end of the fifteenth century are with probability ascribed to
Siena, and dated pieces as early as 1501. Tiles also from the
same fabrique are remarkable for the excellence of their grotesque
borders on an orange yellow ground, having centres painted with
great delicacy : some unusual examples having a black ground to
their decorative borders.

Rome and the south of Italy do not appear to have produced
meritorious works in this field, during the period of its greatest
excellence in the northern and Tuscan states ; and it is not till
the dispersion of the artists, consequent upon the absorption of
the Umbrian duchy into the Pontifical states, that we find a
Durantine establishing a pottery at Rome, and producing in 1600
an inferior repetition of the grotesque style so admirable in the
hands of the Fontana, half a century earlier at Urbino. The
decadence was rapid ; an increased number of inferior potteries
produced wares of a lower price and quality ; the fall of the
ducal houses which had so greatly encouraged its higher excel-
lence as a branch of fine art, together with the general deteriora-
tion in artistic taste, alike tended to its end.


A revival in the production of native decorative earthenware
took place in various parts of Italy, as also in the rest of Europe.
The efforts made to imitate true porcelain were reflected by im-
provements in the quality and decoration of enamelled earthen-
ware, and in the last century we find potteries in various parts of
Piedmont and Lombardy, Venice, Genoa and Savona, Urbino and
Pesaro, Siena, Castelli, Florence and Rome, producing wares of
greater or less artistic excellence. But although careful drawing
is occasionally found, as on some of the pieces painted by Fer-
dinando Maria Campana at Siena, from the prints of Marc
Antonio, and some- charming designs with borders of amorini

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