January 2011: Giorgio Andreoli, Dish with a Flute-playing Putto

Published on: 07 / 01 / 2011

Authors of this entry:
  • Magdalena Palica

Pride of the palace in Rysiowice (Reisewitz in German), which had formerly belonged to Counts von Ingenheim, was a majolica tondo, executed by Giorgio Andreoli, who was regarded as one of the most significant manufacturer of the Renaissance decorated faience-pieces in Italy.

Andreoli, born between 1465 and 1470 in northern Italy, also known as Mastro Giorgio, spent most of his lifetime in Gubbio. He settled there in 1490, together with his brothers, with whom he established a pottery workshop. After merely eight years they received, as reward for their achievements, the bourgeois status, which was interminably confirmed by Pope Leo X in 1519. Gubbio, extolled by the brethren, became one of the most important ceramics producing centers on the Apennine Peninsula. The dishes executed in other cities were sent there for enameling. After Mastro Giorgio’s death the workshop was handled by his sons and afterwards by grandsons.

The identification mark of th dishes executed in the Andreolis’ workshop, was the lustro technique. The lustres were created by re-burning the dishes, covered with paints containing metal oxides. This sort of enameling allowed receiving an irising mantle and had been known in the Muslim lands, it was transferred to Europe by the Arabic craftsmen who were settling on the Apennine Peninsula. In the early 16th century the lustres were popularized in Italy, mostly owing to the Andreolis’ articles, characterized by a ruby or golden glaze. A brilliant example for such a majolica piece is the dish depicting a flute-playing putto, from the former collection of Counts von Ingenheim. The metal oxides used by re-burning process allowed to receive clear, iridescent colours. Beside the rich ornamentation, dissociated from the dark background, virtuosity in using new technique emerges in the figural scene, located in the centre and depicting a flute-playing putto, in the seascape. Despite the small dimensions, this monochromatic composition is conspicuous by its particular refinement, e.g. the playing boy’s muscles have been retrieved by chiaroscuro. The plate, formerly housed in the palace of Rysiowice (Reisewitz in German) was among the faience-pieces of not particularly elaborate adornment, comparing to the others executed in the Andreolis’ workshop. The specific articles produced in that studio were the so called maiolica istoriato, i.e. the majolica pieces decorated with narrative scenes. Such works were normally executed in the wider scale of colours, comparing to the presented dish, beside yellow and red, also the shades of blue and green were used. This sort of artworks was presented at an exhibition in Warsaw, entitled “Raphael’s ceramics. Majolica istoriato from the Polish collections”, in the National Museum of Warsaw (all the interested in this subject-matter are recommended to read the catalogue of the same title, edited by the exhibition’s custodian, Ewa Katarzyna Świetlicka).

Project co-financed by Ministry of Labour and Social Policy under Government Project – Civic Benefit Fund.
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