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Just a quick update on what I found out about maiolica at the British Library.
In "The Art of the Precursors" (Henry Wallis, 1901), the author bemoans the
lack of contemporary pictures of maiolica to help date things. The only
artwork he knows of is "Nativity of the Virgin" in the Gallery at Siena,
who he attributes to Ambrogio Lorenzetti (but which is now attributed to
Pietro Lorenzetti). This depicts various types of ceramics, but nothing
I didn't find much in "La maiolica antica abruzzese" (Gaetano Polidori,
1949), except for a picture (plate 39) of two very nice vasi alborelli by
Dr Francesco Antonio Grue (1686-1746) - way out of our date-range, but
these each had three ornamental feet, which reminded me a little of the
feet on the "barrel stands" on f88. I didn't see any feet on anything else
- the barrel stands remain enigmatic.
In "L'antica maiolica di Pesaro dal XIV al XVII secolo" (Berardi Paride,
1984), Figures 33 & 34 show two grande albarelli, 36.6 and 37.3 cm tall
respectively: both blue with a little yellow detail (one depicting a
peacock/turkey?, the other two facing figures with "HUMILITAS ALTA PETIT"
inbetween), both dated to 1480-1490. Figure 2 shows fragments of various
grande albarelli con ritratti, dated 1450-1490: less colours seems to be
equated with "earlier". Figure 38 has a "brocca da farmacia" from the
Fitzwilliam, dated 1470-1490, decorated in a "foglia gotica pura" style.
Figure 41 has a "bottiglia da farmacia", 1480-1490, with a picture of a
running dog. And Figure 42 has a tall, thin albarello from 1480-190.
The vastest reference of all was "Storia della maiolica di Firenze" - two
fat volumes, but by the time this got delivered to the reading room I only
had a few minutes to flick through the one with all the pictures.
:-/ Surprisingly, there didn't seem to be a lot of what I was looking for:
the only plate I made a note of was fig. 44b, an albarello from the first
quarter of the 15th Century.
Most of the other books I wanted turned out to be off-site: more on those
when I get to see them. :-/
My conclusions: the rough time-line for maiolica seems to be:-
1400-1470 simple geometric patterns in blue
1470-1480 patterns start becoming more gothic: some yellow
1480-1500 introduction of artistic themes and depiction, much more yellow
1500-1530 istoriato - extremely ornate ornamentation
Even though this would date the VMS' barrels to (say) 1450-1470, there
don't seem to be any similar albarelli (or even small fragments of them)
extant from this period that have anything like the simple decoration
styles of the VMS' ones.
Also: the barrel stands (and their feet) remain a mystery - there's nothing
even slightly like them in any book I've seen so far. Strange. :-/
Once I've read a couple more sourcebooks, I'll feel confident enough to
grill ceramics historians on this: I think I'm now pretty close to getting
as complete a picture of this as I'll be able to.
Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....