Woodstocker Books


Italian Maiolica and Europe

Italian Maiolica and Europe


Timothy Wilson with essay by Kelly Domoney and Elisabeth Gardiner

Publisher: Ashmolean Museum 

Size: 320 mm x 245 mm
Pages: 568
Illustrations: 600 color, 20 b&w

Maiolica or tin-glazed earthenware has been called "the pottery of humanism." It is the quintessential Renaissance ceramic art and had an enormous impact on the decorative arts of the rest of Europe during this period and beyond. Rendering a ceramic glass opaque white with the addition of tin oxide,  a base of painting, came from the Islamic world where it developed around 800 A.D. 

This publication traces the development of the art from Malaga in the Islamic Kingdom of Andalucia, up through Spain to Paterna to the Manises in the Christian Kingdom of Valencia and then to Italy. The techniques, the craftsmen and the towns where the Italian potters learned the Islamic secret of applying metallic luster are all explained. Kings, princesses and ordinary people, the export business and the acquirer of beautiful objects for their own sake are part of the story.

The works shown in this complete catalogue of the Maiolica in the Ashmolean are beyond description. This is one of the world's great collections, and the color, artistry, rich variety of forms and techniques of the works are sure to be enjoyed by decorative arts devotees over many years. 

The publication is the culmination of nearly 30 years' work in caring for, studying, and developing the collections by the author, Timothy Wilson. who is one of the the world's leading expert on European Renaissance ceramics. The original pieces came from the collection of C.D.E. Fortnum (1820-1899), but have been developed further in recent years.

The 289 entries are from France, the Low Countries, England, Spain, Portugal, Germany, and Mexico, many from excavations. Thus, we get a wide-ranging picture of the development of this pottery from Islamic Spain through to recent times.

Professor Timothy Wilson is the world's leading authority on the subject and is a former Keeper of Western Art at the Ashmolean. Kelly Domoney of Cranfield University, and Elisabeth Gardner of the Ashmolean's Conservation Department, provide an essay on the technical analysis and conservation history of some major pieces.

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