origin of majolica

Prompted by request for more majolica from Bill, I spent a bit o’ time this morn online … :) … oh, that ever-so-sapping activity.

But what treasures await the seeker. I found another excellent slide show about Manises, Spain (mentioned earlier here at Color of Sand) at a gem of a website, Amyx Studios – the work of a woman and man (the Amyx’s) from San Luis Obispo, CA. The woman, Guyla Amyx, is a professor of ceramics at Cuesta College. Perhaps it is her creation, this wonderful section devoted to Majolica.

On the way to finding this website, I did find a few more tidbits:
Etymology: Majolica is an Anglicized version of the Italian maiolicaItalian, maiolica. It is named after the Island of Majorca (formerly known as Maiolica), which once was a commerce center for work produced in Valencia, Spain.

And from the Montana Museum of Art & Culture “MMAC” website
(http://www.umt.edu/montanamuseum/permanent/europeanartwork/16and18centurymaj.aspx) about their collection of 16th & 18th Century Italian Majolica:
Decorative Tin Glazed Earthenware

The Majolica Collection comprises 28 pieces of Italian earthenware from the 16th-18th centuries, donated by Robert Lekman. Majolica is a term applied to Italian pottery originating in the 14th century, though its origins remain unclear. Persian pottery may have been imported to Majorca and then sold to Italy as a Majorcan product.
Majolica is distinguished by its use of tin, a lead glaze to which tin ashes have been added, creating a white, opaque glaze that accepts a variety of blues, greens, yellows, oranges, and manganese purples applied to the white background. Many of the decorative motifs are reminiscent of other hand painted objects of the period, such as architectural embellishments. Throughout the 15th century, the green, purple, blue and white luster wares of Valencia, Spain were extremely popular in Italy and influenced three major centers for majolica; Tuscany, Faenza, and Deruta, of which the MMAC collection includes examples.

Here is an image from the MMAC website:

Italian Wine Jug, ceramic, 18th century, 7 3/4 inches high, Donated by Robert Lekman (from MMAC website)

A big hearty thanks to Bill for his request because it led me to these fine musings today.


5 Responses to “origin of majolica”

  1. February 21, 2011 at 7:20 am

    Oh my God, these works are so beautiful. I am totally dumbfounded. This has really caught my eye and now I have to see some in real life. Thank you so much.

  2. February 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Don’t you love how it beautifies the “everyday?” Signs, stairs, doorways, food platters – a very ornate style of decorating. There are similar elements in the decoration, similar flourishes. Most have the same color schema of blue, brown, yellow on white. Some have dark blue as background. I think these colors are easy to come by, unlike red. Tho the blue is generally expensive. And the ceramic process brings a permanence – the grout might wear out in ten years, but the tile won’t. One more thing – it allows personalization through the ability to illustrate with pictures, or suggest symbols, or just in creating fun abstract shapes.

    • February 27, 2011 at 5:41 pm

      The idea of majolica tiles being put in some sort of order to tell a story is absolutely fascinating. Of course the whole idea of art is to communicate, but this takes it to another level, at least for me. Thanks.

  3. March 4, 2011 at 5:50 am

    Really fine work the majolica. Beautiful to look at. Thanks for the links to the websites and detail about the ceramic process. Your tiles are beautiful.

  4. March 4, 2011 at 7:46 am

    So glad you like them, Jack -thank you. I am missing the process these days as I now spend most of my time in my Museum Educator position (which I do love).

    I was glad for the opportunity to search for majolica – a style i have been attracted to but have not known the whole history of.

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