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among foliage, and subject pieces of great merit from the Castelli
fabrique ; and although the " technique " of the manufacture is
also of great excellence ; the ornamentation wants that masculine
power of colouring and vigour of the renaissance, so strikingly
apparent upon the better productions of the older furnaces, and
the admirable delicacy and richness of effect to be seen upon the
earlier works.

The endeavours made throughout Europe to discover a method
of making porcelain, similar in its qualities or approaching to that
imported from China, had begun in the sixteenth century. In
this direction also royal encouragement was of the greatest value,
and we find that first in the field of discovery was, as naturally
might be expected, that country in which the enamelled earthen-
ware had previously reached its highest perfection. Under the
patronage of the Grand Duke Francis I. about 1580, experiments



MAW LIC A. 47

were made which at length resulted in the production of an
artificial porcelain of close body and even glaze. The existence of
such a production and the history of its origin have been revealed
to us only within the last few years, and we are indebted to Dr.
Foresi of Florence for having made this discovery, so interesting
in the history of the ceramic arts. He had noticed and collected
some pieces of a porcelain of heavy nature and indifferent whiteness,
decorated in blue with flower and leafage pattern of somewhat
oriental style but at the same time unmistakably European, on
some of which a mark occurs consisting of the capital letter F,
surmounted by a dome. The earliest recorded European porcelain
had heretofore been that produced by Dr. D wight, at Fulham, in
1 67 1, and at St. Cloud in France, about 1695, but the specimens
found by Dr. Foresi were manifestly not attributable to either of
these or any other known sources. Further researches brought
to light a piece of the same ware on which the pellets of the
Medici coat were substituted for the more useful mark, and led to
a search among the records of that house. Dr. Foresi was
rewarded for his trouble by the discovery that the above-named
duke had actually caused experiments to be made, and had estab-
lished a private fabrique in connection with his laboratory in the
"Boboli gardens. The Magliabecchian library yielded.an important
manuscript compilation by some person employed by the duke,
giving the nature of the composition and details of the production
of this ware. The marks on the pieces explained the rest. The
Medici arms and the initials F.M.M.E.D.I.I., reading
" Franciscus Medici Magnus Etruriae Dux Secundus," on one im-
portant piece now in the collection of the baron Gustave de Roth-
schild of Paris, clearly attached it to his reign, while the letter F,
the initial of the city, and the dome of her cathedral of which she
was so proud, equally pointed to the place of its production.

Another exceptionally fine and interesting piece has recently
been acquired in Italy by signor Alessandro Castellani. It is a
shallow basin in the centre of which the figure of St. Mark, with



4 s



MAJOLICA.



the lion, is painted in the usual blue pigment, and in a manner
which stamps it as the work of a master's pencil. What makes
this specimen particularly interesting is the existence of a
monogram composed of the letters G. and P. which is painted
on the volume held beneath the lion's paw, while on the reverse





of the piece the usual mark occurs, as given in the accompanying
facsimile. It has been suggested that this monogram may be that
of Raffaelle's great pupil, Giulio Pippi dctto Romano, and that, as
it has been stated that he occasionally painted upon enamelled
earthenware, this piece may be considered as his work. That the
design was from the hand of that master is probable, and that its
execution was by able ceramic painters is equally so : but Giulio
Romano died in 1546, whereas the Medici porcelain does not
appear to have been perfected before 1580.

This Florentine porcelain is especially rare ; scarcely thirty
examples being known to exist. Three of these are at South



MAJOLICA. 49

Kensington, and one is in the possession of the present writer.
It is of value to our subject, not merely as an important episode
in the narrative of the rise and progress of ceramic industry in
Italy but from its exceptional nature, as one at least of the
specimens was decorated by an artist whose handiwork is to be
recognised upon pieces of the Urbino enamelled earthenware.
The fine " Brocca " 15 inches high, belonging to the baron
Gustave Rothschild, is surmounted by an elegantly formed
handle springing from grotesque winged masks, modelled in
relief. The body is decorated with two belts of grotesques,
divided by a narrower one, on which are masks and scroll orna-
ments; beneath these is a band divided into arched panels or
compartments, in each of which is a flower in somewhat Persian
taste. These grotesques are executed with great freedom and
force and at the same time with a careful finish and delicacy, and
in the manner of an unknown painter who worked at the botega
of Camillo Fontana.

It remains to us only to notice the productions of the present
day, many of the more meritorious of which are only imitations
(in some instances, we regret to say, produced for fraudulent pur-
poses) of the more excellent works of an original period of art ;
and to give some account of the mode of manufacture, the forms
and uses of the pieces, and the manner of their decoration.

The first successful attempt at re-producing the Italian enamelled
pottery of the renaissance from original models was, we believe,
made at Doccia (the manufactory belonging to the Marquis Ginori)
near Florence. The greater number of these pieces were ordered
by an unprincipled dealer of that city who supplied the models,
and by whom and his agents they were more or less scratched,
chipped and otherwise " doctored " to look old, and so imposed
upon unwary purchasers at high prices. The writer recollects
some of these specimens which were, years since, offered to him
at Leghorn by an English tradesman of position (himself possibly
deceived), to which a family history had been attached, their

E



S o MAIOLICA.

reputed owner (it was said) being under the necessity of parting
with therm Since that period the productions of Doccia have
improved, the lustre pigment has been re-produced, and these
revivals have been justly admired at various international exhibi-
tions of art and industry as legitimate works of the manufactory.

But a still better imitation of the metallic lustre of Gubbio has
been produced by an artist of that city ; and at Siena some
excellent copies of tiles and other pieces have been made ; so also
at Faenza. Bologna, too, has made copies of the rilievos of Delia
Robbia which, like those produced at Doccia, may be purchased
new of the makers, or found, scratched and dirty, in various
curiosity shops throughout Europe, ready to pass for old, some of
the worst being occasionally signed as by Luca to enhance their
interest. It is to be regretted that a few of these forgeries, as well
as admirably executed terra-cottas, have found their way into
public museums under a false passport.

At Naples reproductions of the wares of Castelli are well
executed.

In France the excellent reproductions of Persian and Rhodian
wares by Deck, and some good imitations of the Italian enamelled
and lustred pottery by various artists ; and in England the pieces
produced by Minton, Wedgwood, and other manufacturers, have
led to modifications and adaptations, resulting in an important
development of this branch of artistic pottery.



CHAPTER VI.

We are fortunate in possessing a manual of the Italian potters'
art of the sixteenth century, in the manuscript by the " Cavaliere
Cipriano Piccolpassi Durantino," as he signs his name on the
title page of his work. Nearly all the information on this branch
of the subject, conveyed to us by Passeri and subsequently by
Sig. Giuseppe RarTaelli and other writers, has been gathered from
that manuscript written in 1548. We think we cannot do better
than go at once to this fountain head, and epitomize the informa-
tion it conveys, upon the manner and materials, upon the forms
and decoration, of maiolica.

After a " prologo " in which the author defends himself from
the invidious remarks of others, he tells us how the eaith or clay
brought down by the river Mctauro was gathered from its bed
during the summer when the stream was low, and by some was
made into large balls, which were stowed in holes (terrai) pur-
posely dug in the ground ; by others it was previously dried in the
sun ; here it remained to mellow and purge itself from impurities,
which otherwise would be injurious. This same method of
gathering the material for the foundation of the wares was adopted
at many other places. At Venice the earth of Ravenna and
Rimini is worked, although they frequently use that dug at
Battaglia, near Padua, but for the better sort that of Pesaro.

Our author enters into further details of the method of gather-
ing the potters' clay where there are no rivers, by digging a
succession of square pits connected by a channel in the depres-

£ 2



52 MAJOLICA.

sions between hills, into which the earth, washed by showers of
rain, is refined in its passage from pit to pit. For inferior wares
the earth is then collected on a table and well beaten with an
iron instrument, weighing twelve pounds, three or four times,
being kneaded with the fingers as a woman would in making
bread, and all impurities carefully removed. Afterwards it is formed
into masses, from which a piece is taken to work upon the wheel
or press into moulds. If the earth is too " morbida " it is placed
upon the wall or house top, on sieves, through which it is washed
by the rain, and gathered in old broken vases, &c, placed
beneath.

For making wares " all' urbinate " (meaning probably with a
white ground) the dug clay ought to be white, for if of a blue colour
it will not take the tin glaze ; this, however, is not objectionable
if it is to be covered with a slip of " terra di Vicenza " (a white
clay), a method which he terms " alia castellana." But it is the
reverse with the clay gathered from the beds of rivers, the blue in
this case being of the better quality.

It is difficult for us now accurately to apply the names which
he gives to the variously shaped pieces, and the more so, as we
are informed that in our author's time various names were
attached by different artists and at different potteries to the same
form. Thus the " Vaso a pera " was also known as " Vaso da
due maniche " and " Vaso Dorico ; " and the body of such a vase
was by some made in one piece, by others in two or three, making
joints at the lower part and at the insertion of the neck, and
uniting them by means of lute (barbatind). Vases and jugs with
pyriform bodies, moulded handles, and shaped spouts, or lips,
were known as "a bronzo antico " (fig. i), their forms, doubtless,
being derived from the antique bronze vessels discovered in
excavations.

Some of these pieces have a stopper fitting into the neck by a
screw, the worm of which is worked upon it by means of a piece
of wood (stecca) formed with projecting teeth, the interior of the



MAJOLICA.



53



neck being furnished with a corresponding sunken worm. The
details of all these methods are illustrated on the third table of




Fig. i.



Fig. 2.



his atlas of plates. After telling us that the albarello (fig. 2), or
drug pot, universally known under that name, is made of different
sizes and always of one piece, our author describes the manner of




^^*\




Fig. 3.



Fig. 4.



forming the Vaso senza bocca (fig. 3), a sort of puzzle jug with
hermetically fixed cover on the top and an opening beneath the
foot, from which an inverted funnel rises inside the body of the
vase. To fill it, the piece must be turned upside down and the
liquid poured into the funnel below, and may be again poured out



54 MAJOLICA.

at the spout when required, in the ordinary way, the vase having
been placed upright.

It is hardly necessary to give a list of different forms, but we
may follow our author in his description of that set of five, or
sometimes nine separate pieces, which, fitting together, form a
single vase (fig. 4). These sets, known as "scudella da donna
di parto " or " vasi puerperali," were made for the use of ladies in
their confinements, and consist of the following pieces : — (1.) The
broth basin or Scode/la, on raised foot. Over this fits the lid (2),
which also does duty as a plate (Tagliere) for the roll or slice of
bread ; inverted over this is the drinking cup. (3), Ongaresca,
upon the foot of which fits the salt cellar, Saliera (4), surmounted
by its cover (5). The particulars of the arrangement of the nine
pieces are not given. Single portions of these are to be found in
collections, but the present writer is not aware of any one com-
plete set having been preserved.

Using either the mugiuolo or the scudella, the mass of clay placed
upon the disk is revolved by the wheel and fashioned into form
with the hands, assisted by variously shaped pieces of flat wood
(stecche) and moulding tools of iron (serri) all of which are figured
in Piccolpasso's designs.

The forms of the seggers, case (that is, cases made of fire-clay
and pierced with holes, in which the finer wares are baked, being
thus protected from dirt or accident in the furnace), and the
composition of the clay of which they were made, as also of the
tagliy fiunte, smarclle, ftironi, &c. variously formed tripods and
supports for holding the pieces to be fired, are given us in detail.
The clay consists of a mixture of the red earth used for coarser
wares and the white, which is reserved for vases and finer
pieces.

Shaped pieces with ornaments in relief, masks, spouts, handles,
&c. are formed in moulds made of plaster of Paris (gesso) upon
the original models. The mould being ready, the potter's clay is
formed into a cheese-shaped mass of a diameter suitable to the



MAW LIC A. 55

size of the mould ; from this slices are cut by means of a wire
worked over two pieces of wood of the thickness of the required
slice, and placed at either side of the cheese of clay. A slice of
even thickness being thus obtained it is pressed by the hand into
the hollows of the mould; that for the other side of the piece is
then steadily pressed over the clay which occupies the correspond-
ing mould, and the excess exuding from the edge between is
neatly cut away. The foot would be similarly formed in another
mould, and subsequently attached to the bowl by means of lute
(barbatina). This lute is made of the finer quality of clay, much
worked and allowed to dry, then mixed with a certain quantity of
the shearings of fine woollen cloth, kneaded with water and diluted
to the consistence of thick cream.

To make shaped vases or ewers (bronzi antiche) a mould is
formed to each side of the piece, uniting longitudinally at the
handle and spout ; the clay pressed into each of these is neatly
cut from the edge by means of the archetto, a wire strained across
a forked stick, and joined to the corresponding side with barba-
tina by which also the handle, formed in another mould, is
attached to the piece, the inside being smoothed at the joint by
means of a knobbed stick (bastone). The pieces known as
" abborchiati," such as salt-cellars with ornaments in rilievo, are
made in the same manner, as are also the " smartellati " or tazze,
&c. formed after the manner of pieces in beaten metal {repousse)
with bosses and radiating compartments in relief. The basket-
like pieces {canestrella) were similarly moulded.

In his second book Piccolpasso gives the receipts and methods
of preparing the glaze and colours, commencing with the " marza-
cotto," the silicate of potass or glass, which is the foundation
of all glaze. We are then told the manner of constructing a
reverberatory furnace in which the tin and lead can be oxydized,
and which is built of brick with an earth called " sciabione,"
probably a sort of fire-clay. It consists of an elongated square
structure divided longitudinally into two compartments, in one of



56 MAI0L1CA.

which is placed the fire, while the other is occupied, on a higher
level, by a shallow tray or trough made of tufo, a volcanic stone,
or of brickwork, to contain the metals, upon and over which the
flame of the burning wood is made to play in its passage to the
draft hole at the end.

The construction of other furnaces i-s his next subject. They
were built of brick and of an elongated quadrilateral plan,
divided into two stories by an arched floor, pierced to allow of a
free circulation to the heat ; the upper chamber, which is higher
than the lower, is furnished with four small openings on the upper
part of either side (vedette) and nine similar ones in the vaulted
roof; the lower chamber has a well or depression sunk about
one foot beneath the surface to receive the ashes from the fire,
and both it and the upper one have an arched opening or feeding
door (bocca) at one end. The dimensions usual at Castel Durante
were six feet long by five wide, and six high, but in Venice they
were larger, for, says Piccolpasso, " I have seen one at the house
of M° Francesco di Pier ten feet wide by twelve long, outside,
having three openings to feed the fire."

In the upper chamber the wares are placed for baking, the finer
sorts being enclosed in the seggers (case) piled one above another,
and the coarser arranged between, supported by pieces of tile,
<fcc. and so packed as to fill the chamber as much as possible
without impeding the free current of the fire. This is the first
baking, and at the same time the pigments, prepared as previously
described, are submitted to the action of the fire in the upper part
of the furnace. The opening to the upper chamber is then
roughly bricked and luted up, leaving only a small orifice
(bocchetta), in the upper part. The small lateral openings (vedette)
are also closed, and those in the roof loosely covered with pieces
of tile. The vases containing the mixture of sand and feccia for
making the marzacotto are then placed upon each other under the
furnace at the further end (probably in the lower or fire cham-
ber). All being prepared, and invoking the name of God, " uso



MA 10 LIC A. 57

Christiano," with the sign of the cross, take a handful of straw
and light the fire made of well-dried wood placed in the lower
chamber, and which must be gradually increased for four hours,
taking care that it is never pushed too much, lest the pieces run
or become too hard to receive the glaze. The furnace should be
of a clear heat all throughout and so continued for about twelve
hours, drawing away the ashes from below with the " cacciabragie "
or rake. When sufficiently baked let the fire burn out, and re-
move the cinders that all may become cool.

We must refer to the Introduction to the large catalogue of the
maiolica collection at South Kensington for further extracts,
quoting here one sentence only where the author says, "And
now I will give you the ' sbiancheggiati ' that is made in Lombardy,
bearing in mind that the earth of Vicenza is used, making the
design on the white earth ; I would say with a style of iron of
this kind (gives design), and this drawing is called ' sgraffio.' "
This is an interesting passage connecting as it does these incised
wares with the fabriques of Lombardy, to which, from the cha-
racter of the designs upon the earlier pieces, we have always
assigned them.

In his third book Piccolpasso goes into further details of the
glaze and colours, manner of painting, firing, &c.

The " bianchetto " which is only once baked, and the other
colours, being removed from the furnace, are triturated with water
on a " piletta " or hand colour mill, or by means of a pestle and
mortar, to reduce them to a fine powder, and passed through a
horse-hair sieve. Some grind them on a slab of porphyry which
is even better. The green pigment may be baked two or three
times. The " zallo " and the " zallulino," after once or twice
baking, are covered with earth and again baked in the hottest
part of the furnace.

The white enamel glaze, having been properly milled and fined
through a sieve, is made into a bath with water to the consistency
of milk. The pottery baked in biscuit is taken out of the furnace,



53 MAJOLICA.

and after being carefully dusted with a fox's tail is dipped into
this bath of glaze and immediately withdrawn, or some of the
pieces may be held in the left hand while the liquor is poured
over them from a bowl. A trial piece should show the thickness
of glove leather in the adhering coat. The " invetriatura" having
been thus applied and the pieces allowed to dry are now ready
to receive the painting. This is executed with coarser and finer
brushes ox penelli, made of goats' and asses' hair, and the finest of
the whiskers of rats or mice ; the ordinary wares being held in
the left hand or on the left knee and the finer in wooden cases,
lined with tow, to prevent rubbing. A different brush must be
used for each colour. The painters generally sit round a circular
table suspended from the ceiling so that it may turn round, and
upon this the different pigments are placed.

The painted pieces after being dried in a clean place, taking
care that the " bianco " is not chipped or rubbed off, are painted
with zallulino on the outer edge and are then ready to receive
the "coperta" or outer glaze. The liquid of the bath must be
thin, as a translucent coating only is required over the colours ;
into this the pieces are dipped, and being again dried are ready
for the final firing.

In a supplement Piccolpasso gives us an account of the
manner of making maiolica, and it will be observed that through-
out his narrative he has never applied that term to the painted
and glazed wares produced at his own botega, or at any of the
others to which he refers. -

He tells us that he feels he ought not to omit the account of it
which he has received from others, although he has never made
or even witnessed the making of it himself. " I know well " he
says " that it is painted over finished works ; this I have seen in
Ugubio, at the house of one Maestro Cencio." The portion of
the design which is to receive the lustre colour is left white at the
first painting ; thus, a figure in a grotesque whose extremities are
to be lustred will only have those parts painted which are to be



MAJOLICA. 59

coloured, leaving the extremities merely sketched in outline upon
the white ground ; these, after the colours have been set by firing,
are subsequently touched with the lustre pigment. The process
of firing differs from the former one, because the pieces are not
enclosed in seggars but are exposed to the direct action of the
flames.

The furnace also is differently constructed, the fire chamber
square in form, having no arched roof pierced with holes but
only two intersecting arches of brick to support the chamber
above, the four corners being left as openings for the free current
of the flames. Upon these arches is placed a large circular
chamber or vessel, formed of fire-clay, which fits into the square
brick structure, touching at the four sides and supported on the
intersecting arches beneath, but leaving the angles free. This
inner chamber is pierced in all directions with circular holes, to
allow the flames free passage among the wares. The method of
building these furnaces is kept guarded, and it is pretended that
in it and the manner of firing consist the great secrets of the art.
The scudelli are packed with the edge of one against the foot of
another, the first being supported on an unglazed cup. The
furnaces are small, only from three to four feet square, because
this art is uncertain in its success, frequently only six pieces being
good out of one hundred; "true the art is beautiful and ingenious,
and when the pieces are good they pay in gold." The fire is in-
creased gradually, and is made of palli or dry willow branches ;
with these three hours firing is given, then, when the furnace
shows a certain clearness, having in readiness a quantity of dry
broom cease using the willow wood, and give an hour's firing with
this; after, with a pair of tongs remove a sample from above.
Others leave an opening in one of the sides by which a sample
or trial, painted on a piece of broken ware, can be removed for


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