Italian Pottery: A Brief History

Italian Pottery: A Brief History

The nation of Italy is home to a rich culture and history. While Italy is known for its advancements in the areas of fine dining, the country's other contributions to culture should not be overlooked. Italy has a long and vibrant history in the areas of pottery and ceramics. Italian Pottery is unique and striking, and it is often passed down from one generation to the next as a valued family heirloom. Pottery and ceramics serve a functional purpose, of course, but are also unique works of art that can say things about the culture they came from and the people who own them. The history of Italian ceramics is interesting and through it, you can trace elements of broader Italian culture.

A Brief Overview of Italian Ceramic History

  • Maiolica: one of the most recognizable types of Italian ceramics, maiolica traces its history back to the Middle Ages. While the classic style started with a white base and glazes in copper and manganese, the style has grown over the centuries. Often, individual regions and even cities had their unique take on the art form. This style has endured and continues to be produced to this day, with towns such as Deruta, in Umbria, being home to a major production. Common themes in maiolica design include natural things such as plants, animals, people, and portraits of significant figures.
  • The Mid-20th Century: the unique art of Giovanni DeSimone came onto the world stage in the1960s. His unique art showed influences of cubism and native art from Somalia, which he had visited as a child. His work is striking and accessible due to its vibrancy and unique blending of design ideas. While DeSimone passed away in 1991, his daughters continue to produce work in a style reminiscent of their father from their studio in Palermo, Sicily.
  • Volcanic Stone: another unique area of Italian ceramics is the use of unique materials such as volcanic stone. Once glazed, the stone can be painted and finished in any number of ways using various colors and designs. As volcanic stone is as hard as granite, it is often used for tables due to its durability.

What Makes Italian Pottery and Ceramics Unique

Pottery and ceramics are still produced in Italy to this day, with each part of the country offering styles of its own. As Italy spent many centuries as several kingdoms and nation states, each part of Italy had an individuality that extended to areas of culture such as pottery. Another area of uniqueness found in Italian pottery is how it's made. With so many items you buy being mass-produced, there is often a lack of uniqueness. With real Italian pottery, each piece is handcrafted, making each piece unique. Two pieces of work by the same artist can each have traits or design ideas that make them different. Each item offers the unique touch of the artist and each region offers its own style. No matter if you want a vibrant table with flowers and fruit or a classically crafted maiolica piece, you can find something that appeals to you and is truly one of a kind.

Final Thoughts

Your home should be a place of comfort, relaxation, and a place that reflects your taste. While common items you can buy from a mass-market store are not necessarily bad, they may not be unique or speak to your taste in art. Sometimes you want something unique that is not only high-quality but speaks to the place and culture that produced it. Italian pottery is a broad term encompassing several unique styles and approaches to art and even how the items are made. By buying Italian pottery, you open yourself to a world of unique items with a long and interesting history.