Maiolica tin-glazed earthenware, a product of the Renaissance

Istoriato decoration on a plate from Castel Durante, c. 1550–1570 (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lille)
Istoriato decoration on a plate from Castel Durante, c. 1550–1570 (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lille)

Maiolica is a tin-glazed earthenware that was produced during the Renaissance in Italy. The name comes from Majorca, the island from which, in the 15th century, a lot of Hispano-Moresque tin-glazed pottery was brought into Italy. The technique of covering with a tin glaze earthenware was similar to that used elsewhere in Europe for delftware and faience. The opaque white field set off the brilliance of the brightly coloured, pictorial decoration featuring maiolica. Many designs in this style of istoriato were based on prints from the Renaissance. Some of the finest pieces can be credited to specific artists. Castel Durante, Deruta, Faenza, Gubbio, Urbino and Venice were the major pottery of maiolica. Maiolica was replaced by porcelain and creamware in the 18th century, but it flourished in Castelli and the Genoa region.

Istoriato charger, Faenza, c. 1555 (Dallas Museum of Art)
Istoriato charger, Faenza, c. 1555 (Dallas Museum of Art)

Sources

Clarke, M. (2010). maiolica. In The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 24 Feb. 2021

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