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History Of Pottery And Porcelain:
Pottery And Porcelain Defined
History Of Pottery
Forms Employed By The Italians
Holland - Delft
Introduction To Porcelain
Oriental Porcelain China
Pottery And Porcelain
Clocks And Watches
( Originally Published Late 1800's )
While the pottery work of Italy was slowly degenerating, the art of porcelain-making introduced itself as a medium of progress.
We have seen how Italy adorned and lent grace to the first attainment; she reached a limit in this: so also did she bestow her genius upon the offspring art of por celain manufacture, carrying it not slowly, but at once to a degree of incomparable excellence.
In the history of porcelain-making we fail to find the historical connections which attach to the potter's art. One we can trace from country to country through along series of ages; the other, in Christian lands at least, followed the mother art as a natural consequence.
Before the potter's eyes in Oriental lands the porcelain work of the East stood a continual model for his emulation, and every land acquainted with the first art was striving vigorously to acquire a knowledge of its more advanced form.
If we are to regard as final the statements of Mr. Jacquemart, the Medici porcelain work of Florence takes precedence in the history of porcelain work in Christian countries. Nineteen pieces only of this strange ware exist, and its historical records are equally finite. M. Brongniart denominates it " a hybrid porcelain," while M. Demmin ignores it in his list of Italian porcelain works. Mr. Chaffers terms it "the first porcelain made in Europe." The mark upon some of the pieces consists of the arms of the Medici family, which were six round pellets or globules marked respectively with the letters F M M E D II -Franciscus Medici Magnus Etruriae, Dux Secundus. Three of the existing pieces bear this mark, while twelve are marked with the Duomo of Florence, and four bear no mark at all; thus making up the whole number of pieces of the rarest European porcelain known to exist.
M. Demmin begins his " epoque actuelle" of Italian porcelain with the Doccia ware, which manufactory was established at Florence in the year 1735. It is here that we first become acquainted with the name of Ginori-a name which has since become famous in its connection with porcelain-work and other artistic productions. The history of this manufactory is contemporaneous with that of the royal French fabrique at Sevres. The Marchese Carlo Ginori, in 1737, after a long course of experiments, sent a ship to the East Indies for the purpose of obtaining samples of the materials there used in the manufacture of porcelain. In 1757 Carlo died, leaving the then well-established works in possession of his son, Senator Lorenzo, who increased their capacity and carried further forward the designs of his father. From his hands it has passed successively through the ownerships of other members of the family, and is at the present time conducted by Lorenzo Ginori Lisci. By this family alone the Doccia fabrique has been maintained, and so constant and enterprising has been their care that in our day all the modern porcelain-work of Italy is in one way or another associated with their name and efforts. The principal feature of the Doccia ware is its admirable imitation of the majolica and successful reproduction of the bas-reliefs of Luca Della Robbia in porcelain. Upon these two subjects we have dwelt at length in the chapter upon Italian pottery, and it will not be necessary to rehearse here the peculiar features which characterize them.
Both hard and soft paste wares are produced at Doccia, the latter so excellent that several pieces which Sir Horace Mann had sent to Horace Walpole were sold at the Strawberry Hill sale for Oriental ware. Throughout all its record the Doccia manufactory has been celebrated for its modelling and grouping. Mr. Marryat speaks of two of these characteristic pieces as being quite remarkable: " One a copy of the Deposition from the Cross of Fra Bartolomeo, measuring two feet by fifteen inches," the other a copy of the Rape of the Sabines by John of Bologna. Strangely enough these are mostly esteemed in foreign lands. In later years, Doccia copied the Naples work of Capo di Monte. The principal mark of the Doccia ware is two triangles crossed, forming a sixpointed star; in the finer specimens this is in gold.
Naples commenced her work in the province of porcelain-making only a year after Florence. Here Charles III. founded his noble manufactory of Capo di Monte, and many of the pieces he constructed with his own hands. Almost any one who expressed a fondness for the ware was sure to find favor with the king. It is not unlikely that Lord Nelson's admiration for the ware partially paved the way to his dukedom of Bronte.
After the accession of Ferdinand the manufactory began to languish, and it finally totally expired, the moulds passing into the hands of the Ginori family who still retain them and are engaged in reproducing copies which are thrown upon the market from time to time as genuine Cap o di Monte. These copies, although very beautiful and excellent, are not equal to the originals; they are most frequently met in the form of cups and saucers, the cups having coral handles with raised allegorical figures about the sides; the saucers are generally ornamented with raised garlands. They want the sharpness and nice coloring of the old Capo di Monte. The ware is so extremely original that any ordinary observer once seeing it would readily recognize it upon seeing it a second time. "Shells, corals, embossed figures, and plagues exquisitely moulded in high relief constitute its peculiar beauty and excellence." The colors generally used are a delicate peagreen, yellow, red and salmon. One characteristic is always noticeable in the Capo di Monte ware ; the flesh tints are always stippled and the faces are painted with all the accuracy of a miniature, and other subjects are treated with similarly careful attention. Mr. S. L. M. Barlow, of New York, has in his possession a beautiful mug of Capo di Monte ware, and there is also in the same city a jewelcasket consisting of five beautifully executed bas-relief panels in possession of Mr. H. N. Smith.The ware is exceedingly rare, and is found in very few collections even in Europe.
The mark of Capo di Monte is an N surmounted by a crown, in blue. In one or two cases the letters R. F. are substituted; these pieces were made during Ferdinand's time. The work of Capo di Monte has been imitated at Dresden, but not successfully; the best features of the ware departed when the original manufactory expired. The faultless work of the old fabrique suffered no diminution even when examined with the magnifying glass, a test which none of the modern productions will bear. Lorenzo Beccheroni, the present artist at La Doccia, is the only person in our time capable of approaching the old Naples work; even were he equal to their best artist, the moulds themselves are so old and worn that much of the delicate beauty is lost before the painter touches them.