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Collecting Old Continental Pottery
Henri Deux Ware, Etc.
Paris And Its Environs
Glazed Pottery Of France
Stoneware Of Germany
German And Other Guilds
SWEDEN, DENMARK, SWITZERLAND:
Stockholm, Rorstrand, and Marieberg
Delft: The Old Signs Of The Potters
Majolica And Luca Della Robia
Naples, Rimini, Monte Feltro, And Forli
Siena, Monte Lupo, And Pisa
Fabriano, Viterbo, Rome
Venice, Treviso, Bassano, Milan, Etc.
PERSIA AND DAMASCUS:
Persia And Damascus
Persian And Other Tiles
Rhodes, Asiatic Turkey, Etc.
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Piero de Cosimo De'Medici (1419-1469) was chief of the Florentine Republic, following his father Cosimo, whose love of letters and of art he inherited. Caffaggiolo was one of the Medici palaces, really a castle, between Florence and Bologna, where, under the patronage of Piero, decorations were carried out by Luca della Robbia. The ceiling of the study and tiles for the floor were specially his work. Of the tiles, probably executed in tin-enamelled ware, Vasari says it "was a new thing and most excellent for summer."
If Maecenas, the famous Roman statesman who lived in the time of the Emperor Augustus, was noted as a patron of literature and of Horace and Virgil, the Medici were no less celebrated as the protectors of the fine arts and of literature during the Italian Renaissance, which was largely due to their efforts and their wealth. In this home of Caffaggiolo, a home from which the intimate letters of wife to husband and mother to son were addressed, there arose a fabrique which produced majolica of the highest quality, with designs executed in pale blue, green, yellow, and brown, on a darkblue ground, or with outlines traced in blue, shaded in blue, thick copper-green, and brown on an orange ground. A curious opaque orange, and a red also opaque, were peculiar to this factory.
The early ware was never mezzo, but it was sometimes enamelled on the top surface only, and always decorated in blue under a rich, even pure glaze, with borders and designs somewhat resembling fourteenth-century woodcuts. The next century showed considerable advance in the application of colours, yet it is only in the sixteenth century that the full palette of the painter produced the harmonious effects which stir the purse-strings of the rich collector today, who pays 160 guineas for a small plate 8 inches in diameter or 300 guineas for a large pharmacy-jug, 19 1/2 inches high. I have seen these prices paid, and can testify that there appears to be only a high limit-very high-to the values of the finest examples of majolica, especially the marked pieces. For Cafagioli, Chagagiolo, Cafagiullo, are only a few of the varied spellings of this name inscribed upon the ware, and always accompanied by a special mark composed of a capital P and an S, the latter letter being a continuation of the former. Another letter L is suggested by the crossing of the P at or near the base. Sometimes a trident is found with this monogram, more often tiny blue flowerets surround it; but many pieces have no factory mark at all, yet some of these bear the arms, emblems, and inscriptions of the Medici family, who, from 1434 to 1723, held the chief power in Florence and gave two Popes, Leo X. and Clement VII, to Rome. The fleuy de lis has been found with several dates-1466, 1475, and 1477. The conventional flower held in the beak of a cock is an early form, somewhat rarer than the arms with six balls, the uppermost containing three fleur de lis, accompanied by papal insignia-the key, the tiara or triple crown, etc. These indicate Pope Leo X., whose legend, semper Glovis (for Gloriosus) and the letters S.P.Q.R. (Senatus Populus Que Romanus) also occur, whilst on other pieces the inscription S.P.Q.F. shows the substitution of Florentines for Romanus. The senate and the people of Florence were merged in the Medici just as the French were in Louis XIV., whose motto l'etat, c'est moi might have served them too.
In the absence of all marks and signs such as those described, it becomes exceedingly difficult to distinguish between the finest wares of certain fabriques, such as those of Caffaggiolo and Faenza or Siena, because exquisite painting and finish are common to them all, and the schemes of decoration have a general resemblance. Hence it is that the best authorities have to be content with giving alternative names -this or that-which leaves room for further doubt because the alternatives differ : Caffaggiolo, Faenza, Siena, or Forli -which ? It is the quality of the majolica which is of the highest importance, though it must be admitted that an added charm and value are associated with identified pieces, which will become more common as the facilities for comparison are increased.
There appears to be very little information regarding the establishment and maintenance of the fabrique at Caffaggiolo. We should scarcely expect to find them in the public records of Florence, because the manufacture was entirely a private affair, carried on not for profit but for pleasure, and it is possible that much pleasure and perhaps profit resulted to the Medici by the judicious distribution of this beautiful ware in gifts to friends and others: which leads to the thought that the shields-of-arms and mottoes of those to whom such gifts were sent would appear in the decoration as an additional compliment, especially when the Medici desired to show their appreciation of the support of the leading Florentine families, such as the Petrucci.