Italian Majolica Renaissance Ceramics


Majolica Pottery from Italy 


Maiolica Vase, Urbino

 ( NGV  )

The tin glazed pottery made in Italy during the Renaissance era was known as Maiolica. It is recognized as one of the most appealing styles of pottery ever produced. Over a period of 1oo years from 1440 to 1540 some of the best Maiolica was created, the early designs being originally influenced by the pottery imported into Southern Italy from Islamic North Africa. Maiolica was first developed around 1370 in the Italian regions of Tuscany and Umbria and usually depicted either historical scenes or legendary themes.

Maiolica ceramics underwent two key processes. After the first firing, the bisque is dipped into a bath of fast drying liquid glaze. When dry, the glazed piece is ready to be hand painted. A final firing at 1690 F making the glaze interact with the metal oxides used by the painter to create the deep and brilliant translucent colors specific to majolica.

TheMaiolica Renaissance ceramics were created with a refined , white opaque  glaze which occurred due to the presence of tin oxide ,causing a fine white ash. A second glaze in some instances was applied ( called coperta ) that led to a more brilliant shine. The coperta glaze was composed of lead oxide combined with sand, potash and salt. Painting Maiolica was a difficult exercise requiring great skill  as the surface in its pre-fired condition readily absorbed the pigments, and didn’t allow any fixing once applied. The rapid absorption led to the brilliant colors being preserved .

Italian Maiolica vaseMajolica vase with travelling minstrel, Italy

Wine Cistern with lion head handles -  ca. 1562 ItalyWine Cistern, ca. 1562

Italian Maiolica Vase

Italian Majolica cobalt blue and white vase

Plate 1520 : Italian (Deruta) Medium: Maiolica (tin-enameled earthenware), lustered

 Lustre majolica plate- Deruta, Italy



Initially the Maijolica was used for traditional ceramic applications like bowls, jugs, serving vessels and plates along with floor and ceiling tiles. Later , they also emerged as a means of pure artistic expression. This was undoubtedly an exceptional era of ceramic production and a high level of both artistic and technical excellence was attained.  Some of the principal centers of ceramic production in Italy still produce Maiolica to this day. The pottery of Maiolica derived its name from the medieval Italian word for Majorca, an island on the route for ships bringing Hispano Moresque wares from Valencia in Spain. These were the ceramic pottery created by the Moors using the influential techniques of glazing with an opaque white tin- glaze and painting with metallic lusters.


Italian Majolica dish with female bust motif

Majolica - Italy

Dish with Perseus, Andromeda and the sea monster.

Perseus, Andromeda and the sea monster.

Italian (Urbino), Renaissance,  1524

Majolica Renaissance Ceramics 1540

Majolica dish – NGV



italian Majolica dish - gold en yellow leaves on a blue background

Maiolica Dish, Urbino  1542  Ashmolean Museum

NGV Maiolica Plate

Majolica dish – NGV

Italian majolica pitcher with twin handles and botanical decorations and bird motif

Ceramic majolica pitcher

Francesco Xanto Avelli da Rovigo majolica plate with women bathing

Women Bathing
Attributed to Francesco Xanto Avelli da Rovigo (c. 1486 – c. 1542)

Gubbio, Italy 1525

Maestro Giorgio Andreoli majolica pitcher

Ewer  ca. 1520

Possibly workshop of Maestro Giorgio Andreoli (Italian, ca. 1465–1553)

( The Met )

Roundel with mock Triumph of Love,majolica plate

Roundel with mock Triumph of Love, ca. 1510–20
Perhaps Castel Durante or elsewhere in the Marches
Tin-glazed earthenware (maiolica) ( The Met )

Tin-glazed-Eatrhenware-Maiolica by Francesco Xanto Avelli da Rovigo

Plate (Piatto), 1532
Painted by Francesco Xanto Avelli da Rovigo

Met Museum NY

Dish with an allegory of Chastity and the arms of Matthias Corvinus and Beatrice of Aragon, Dish with an allegory of Chastity and the arms of Matthias Corvinus and Beatrice of Aragon, 1476–ca. 1490

Majolica pilgrim bottle - Fontana workshop in Urbino

Pilgrim Bottle   1560 – 1570

The Fontana workshop in Urbino. The medallion in the centre imitates a Roman cameo.

Fontana Workshop majolica ink stand

Fontana Workshop, Inkstand – 1550-1560

Twin handled Majolica vaseMajolica vase

Majolica Anfora

Castel Durante 1528 Painted by Giorgio Andreoli

Castel Durante 1528 Painted by Giorgio Andreoli – Aurora (Lehman Collection)

Giorgio Andreoli, named also Mastro Giorgio Andreoli or Mastro Giorgio, was born between 1465 and 1470 in Intra, on the Lake Maggiore, and died in Gubbio, where he spent most of his life, in 1555. He is considered to be the most important potter of the Italian Renaissance. He is famous as inventor of a particular kind of lusterware (lustro).

Majolica hand painted plate by Francesco Xanto Avelli

Hand painted majolica dish, Italy by Francesco Xanto Avelli

British Museum

St. Francis receiving the stigmata, majolica plate by Maestro Giorgio Andreoli

Dish depicting St. Francis receiving the stigmata, made in the workshop of Maestro Giorgio Andreoli, Gubbio, dated 1518 and 1519,

tin-glazed earthenware with lustre decoration

Saint Margaret dish

Dish Depicting Saint Margaret
Workshop of Maestro Giorgio Andreoli Gubbio

Apothecary-Jar-(albarello)--with twin handles

Italian Apothecary Jar (albarello)

ca. 1470–90  – Maiolica (tin-glazed earthenware)

Urbino mailolica vase NGV

Urbino Majolica Vase –  Daphne and Apollo and Salmace hermaphrodite

circa 1565

NGV – National Gallery Victoria, Australia


Armorial Plate (Tondino), ca. 1520–25

One of twenty-one surviving pieces of the most famous and elaborate maiolica service of the Renaissance, painted for Isabella d’Este, marchioness of Mantua, by Nicolò da Urbino,  the most celebrated maiolica painter of his generation.

Met, NY


Majolica Armorial Jug-(boccale)



Italian majolica Pesaro bowl

ca. 1475

Globe-15th-century-or-later-Culture-Italian with Arabic calligraphy

15th century Majolica globe, Italy

Met Museum, New York

handpainted Majolica vase

Majolica Vase


Peacock pattern dish (Piatto)–Italian, possibly Faenza,



 Faenza Majolica inkwell early  15th century of monumental architectural form with the Four Cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Fortitude, Justice and Temperance


Majolica vase with cover  –  Antonio Patanazzi

ca 1580

Italian majolica plate depicting a horseman

Painted decoration and golden and reddish lustre, with a horseman with a standard riding through a landscape.

Iconography from a series of Roman heroes by Marcantonio Raimondi.


Mirror frame -1490-1510 - Montelupo, Italy

Italian Mirror frame

1490-1510 – Montelupo, Italy


Deruta Majolica vase



Apothecary jar (orciuolo)



Majolica amorial jug


Dish with Constantine the Great, Deruta, Italy

Workshop of Giacomo Mancini


Italian Urbino majolica plate


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