20 September - 24 September 2022
15e Parcours de la Céramique et des arts du feu
94 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
MAGNIFICENZA ! PIATTI DA POMPA FROM DERUTA
For centuries the proud Comune of Perugia attracted many leading artists, especially from nearby Tuscany, to work on its major civil projects. Potters from the nearby town of Deruta sold their wares in the main square During the second half of the 15th century, Perugia was of full artistic enterprise. Agostino di Duccio decorated the evocative coloured relief façade of the Oratorio of Saint Bernardino, while Beato Angelico, Filippo Lippi, Benozzo Gozzoli and Piero della Francesca worked in churches and noble houses, leaving their artistic mark on the work of a generation of fine Umbrian masters.
The presence and influence of the young Raphael in Perugia, who worked on five different altarpieces in the first decade of the 16th century should not be overlooked.But the most enduring influence on Deruta maiolica, especially on the imagery of large display dishes, was the art of two local masters who were active between the late 15th and first quarter of the 16th century: Pietro Vannucci, known as Perugino (ca 1446/52-1523) and Bernardino di Betto, famous as Pinturicchio (1555/60-1513).
The rare charger painted with the Adoration is a wonderful example of the influence of Umbrian painting on Deruta maiolica and the character of both Perugino and Pinturicchio can be seen in the complex composition. We attribute this exceptional piece to the master ‘Co’, named after his most important work: ‘The Master of The San Francesco pavement’. Recent research has discovered his name: Nicola Francioli, who was the greatest master in Deruta leaving some of the most poetic samples of maiolica ever made.
The technique of making pottery look like gold by adding metallic lustre in a third firing had long been known in the Islamic world and in Spain. The appreciation for these Spanish ceramics in Perugia is proved by numerous documents listing them in homes from the early 15th century. The date of when lustre was first made in Deruta is unknown but it is clear that the connection comes from Spain, probably via Rome. Splendid lustred maiolica, made to decorate rich houses and to be used at lavish banquets became the speciality of Deruta.
Perhaps the most fascinating maiolica from Deruta are the large and heavily potted dishes known as piatti da pompa made from the last part of the 15th century up to the second half of the 16th century. These dishes have a narrow-flanged rim and large well and have holes for suspension pierced in the foot ring, while the backs are plain and only lead-glazed, to save on the cost of tin. The holes also reinforce the fact that they were meant to be hung on occasion, as well as being used. Normally the rim shows a separate ornament from that on the centre, which functions as a frame to the central motif. Typical subjects on such plates include female bust profiles - the famous Belle Donne (beautiful women), portraits of emperors, equestrian figures and classical heroes, or religious scenes, such as St. Francis receiving the stigmata depicted on the example from the Gillet collection.
The examples decorated with female or male busts, display long scrolls with beautiful inscriptions in capital letters; the lustred Bella from the Courtauld collection displays an invitation to a prudent life: ‘He who steers his boat well will always make it to port’.