Maestro Giorgio; Giorgio da Gubbio; Andreoli, Giorgio di Pietro
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Giorgio di Pietro, later known as Giorgio Andreoli, was probably born at Intra on Lake Maggiore around 1465/1470. By 1489 he had moved to Gubbio with his brother Salimbene, and in that year they entered into some sort of partnership with a prominent Gubbio potter, Giacomo Paolucci. A recently (1987) published contract records an agreement between Giacomo and Giorgio in 1495 for the collaborative production of twenty-five hundred pieces of pottery; some or possibly all of these were to be of maiolica, that is tin-glazed pottery enriched with luster. It was this technique of applying red and gold metallic luster to the surface of pottery in a third firing that was the basis of Giorgio's continuing success. How, when, and where in Italy this technique was mastered is unknown; the secret had long been known to Islamic and Hispano-Moresque potters, and is likely to have been somehow transmitted to Italy from Spain. Recent research suggests the possibility that Gubbio was the earliest center in Italy where luster was successfully made. Giorgio's part in the early development of the technique in Italy awaits further research, but he was to become its most successful and famous exponent.
In 1498 Giorgio obtained from Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino, the privileges and immunities of citizenship of Gubbio. In 1519, when Giorgio's privileges were renewed in a brief from Pope Leo X, he was described as "an excellent master in the art of maiolica... whose work brings honor to the city, lord and people of Gubbio in all the nations to which the pottery of his workshop is exported, as well as great income in customs dues."
Salimbene and for a time another brother named Giovanni also collaborated in the business, but Giorgio was clearly the controlling force. Salimbene died in 1523, but "Maestro Giorgio delle maioliche," as he was known, continued to run a successful business with his sons Vincenzo ("Maestro Cencio") and Ubaldo. In 1538 Vincenzo took a lease on the workshop of the recently deceased Nicola di Gabriele in Urbino, and he apparently remained resident in the city until about 1546; what he was doing there is not known, but he may possibly have been running a luster business. No piece marked with Giorgio's name or initials is known after 1541. He handed over control of the business to his sons in 1546 and died in 1555. [This is an edited version of the artist's biography published in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]
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Distelberger, Rudolf, Alison Luchs, Philippe Verdier, and Timonthy H. Wilson. Western Decorative Arts, Part I: Medieval, Renaissance, and Historicizing Styles including Metalwork, Enamels, and Ceramics. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1993: 163-166.