National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Image: Artistic Exchange: Europe and the Islamic World

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Workshop of
Maestro Giorgio Andreoli of Gubbio
Italian 16th Century
Plate with border of foliate scrollwork; in the center, shield of arms of Vigerio of Savona (recto)
1524, tin-glazed earthenware (maiolica), diameter: 36.2 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Widener Collection
Image: Workshop of Maestro Giorgio Andreoli of Gubbio
Plate with border of foliate scrollwork; in the center, shield of arms of Vigerio of Savona, 1524
Widener Collection

This plate, made in sixteenth-century Italy, used three ceramic techniques that originated in the Islamic world during the ninth century. A glaze containing tin oxide sealed the clay body and provided an opaque white base for decoration. Before firing, the vessel was painted with blue designs using cobalt mined in Iran. After firing, additional luster decoration was applied in a thin paste containing copper and silver compounds. A second firing in a special furnace reduced the metallic paint and bound it to the glaze, producing a reflective film. The three techniques had been used together in the most sought-after ceramics of the fifteenth-century Mediterranean world: the lusterware produced in Valencia, Spain. Made by Moorish potters trained in the style of Muslim Spain, Valencia wares could be commissioned with personal insignia framed by delicate floral scrolls in luster and blue. Rich Italian families ordered huge quantities with their coats-of-arms.

When Italian potters acquired the secrets of luster technique about 1500, it became a specialty of the towns of Gubbio and Deruta. This plate, made for the Vigerio family of Savona, echoes Valencia ware in its central coat-of-arms, the golden color of the luster, and the prominence of blue in the framing ornament of oriental palmettes and classical acanthus scrolls.

Compare the floral decoration in the plate with a 15th-century bowl from Spain.

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