Italian ceramics from the seventeenth to the
production of the 17th-19th centuries is displayed
following regional criteria; for each century the various geographical
from the south to the north of Italy, are represented by specific
pottery factories, individuals, styles and representative decorations.
During the seventeenth century, Renaissance
decorative schemes continued to be in favour especially in central and
Italy. Sicilian potters provided pharmacies with richly decorated sets
jars with a quartieri decoration
(designs divided in compartments), trophy ornament, and festoons. Fine
grotesques decoration were executed at Deruta and Montelupo during the
century. The istoriato style
(narrative painting) was still practiced within the Marche region thanks
activity of Ippolito Rombaldoni in Urbania (formerly Castel Durante).
tradition of foliate decoration on berettino
(grey-blue) enamel continued to single out the pharmacy series of Lazio
and Veneto (Venice).
All regions adopted the bianchi style (white ware).
The potteries of Apulia, Castelli, Deruta, the Marches and, naturally,
Faenza are notable producers of the style.
Made alongside elegantly moulded and pierced bowls and basins, are
devotional works (plaques and sculptures with religious subjects,
holy water stoups), sparsely decorated in compendiario
(rapid, sketchy) style. An undisputed masterpiece of this style in the
seventeenth century is the ceiling of the Church of San Donato in
between 1615 and 1617.
Developed from white wares during the
seventeenth-century was the style known as calligrafico
(minute style) with an elegant repertoire of miniscule plants and
birds, insects, leafy twigs and fruit which became popular during the
Effective naturalistic results in this style were achieved by Deruta,
and particularly Ligurian workshops. The latter borrowed monochrome blue
white decorations from the precious Ming Chinese porcelain, but also
influence of the decorative repertoire of Sino-Persian and Turkish
At the same time a populist strand with vibrant
chromatic effects and rapid sketchy painting developed, applied to every
pottery and devotional wares. Particularly remarkable results were
Montelupo workshops with a lively figural style of soldiers, villagers
figures taken from the vast ensemble of characters from the Commedia
dell'arte (‘harlequin wares’).
century was an era of technological innovations with the introduction of
materials such as porcelain and stoneware, which met with immediate
the expense of maiolica.
porcelain had been admired for centuries and collected by elites from
Europe, but its composition remained a secret until the early eighteenth
century, when the first European hard-paste porcelain factory was
Meissen, Saxony. Soon the secret of porcelain spread throughout Europe,
including Italy, where several factories were founded: Vinovo in Turin,
and Vezzi in Venice, Ginori at Doccia (Fig. 1), Capodimonte, known from
Real Fabbrica Ferdinandea (Royal Factory of King Ferdinand), in Naples.
factories, following European trends, developed a varied repertoire of
decorative schemes (chinoiserie) and
European style motifs (flowers, views, gallant scenes), produced on
elegant tea, coffee and chocolate
services. Graceful figures and small sculptural groups with villagers,
ladies, knights and characters of the Commedia
dell'arte were painted on glazed or unglazed porcelain (biscuit).
From the second half of the eighteenth century
maiolica production also suffered from the overwhelming commercial
English Style creamware which was invented in Staffordshire around 1740.
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth
centuries, creamware was successfully produced in several Italian cities
as Savona, Milan, Turin, Venice, Treviso, Bassano, Este, Faenza, Pesaro
Naples. Its sophisticated ivory shade lent itself to the creation of
openwork wares, or being modeled in relief and decorated with figures,
landscapes, seascapes and rural scenes, both painted or
blue or brown, especially on large dinner services.
dominated the production of ceramics for everyday use and devotional
plaques, domestic holy water stoups) especially in southern and central
The istoriato style continued to enjoy
considerable success in Castelli and Naples thanks to families of
painters (Grue, Gentile, Cappelletti, Massa, Sallandra and Criscuolo).
Tuscany the style was mastered in the centres of San Quirico d'Orcia and
through the activity of Bartolomeo Terchi and Ferdinando Maria Campani
Savona with Gio Agostino Ratti, who continued the great period of
istoriato Barocco (Baroque narrative
Maolica tried to
keep up with fashion (Fig. 2) by borrowing decorative schemes and
porcelain, introducing additional low-temperature colours (petit feu),
especially purple-red. Such tones are obtained with an additional
firing to the two traditionally required for maiolica, at around 700°
centigrade. Many producers in central and northern Italy
Pesaro, Fink and Rolandi in Bologna, Ferniani in Faenza, Clerici and
Milan and Ferretti in Lodi) excelled in this technique but the
porcelain was lost in the long run.
The taste of the time veered towards European
styles, predominantly French, with elegant decorative repertoire in
Bérain-style, rocaille and lambrequins and a wide variety of
realistic flowers. This was exemplified by the popular rose motif,
inspired by Strasbourg
porcelain and accompanied by a refined botanical repertoire, lively with
insects and butterflies.
At the same time the fashion for Chinese
inspired motifs (chinoiserie) developed.
Motifs were taken directly from oriental porcelain or inspired by them.
eighteenth century witnessed an explosion of designs featuring Chinese
Indian flowers, pagodas, light boats and figures in oriental clothes.
The ceramics factory of the Ferniani counts,
like many Italian factories, followed contemporary fashions. Founded in
it dominated the artistic scene of the city of Faenza for two centuries.
From 1777, the Ferniani factory adopted the petit-feu technique for many
as ‘peony flower’, ‘bouquet’, ‘rose’, ‘hut’ and ‘ruins’. The skilled
painter Filippo Comerio distinguished himself in this technique during
in Faenza (1776-1781) when he collaborated with the Faenza factory.
technological innovation adopted was creamware, used mainly for modeling
mythological sculptural groups. During the late eighteenth century,
the new neoclassical taste, the factory transformed their decorative
with the adoption of new styles; all’incensiere
(Roman-style featuring incense-burners), a
ghianda (acorns), a festone
(festoons) and a foglia di vite (vine