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Albarello (storage jar) with grotesque ornaments

Picchi Angelo & Ludovico

Urbania, c. 1550 - c.1560

29.3cm (height)

tin-glazed earthenware (maiolica)

Several pharmacy jars more or less similar to this are marked as being made in Castel Durante, and one at Sèvres is apparently dated 1555. This jar, a companion in the Ashmolean (see WA1888.CDEF.C438), and the group related to them were probably products of the successful workshop of Ludovico and Angelo Picchi.

The Sicilian provenance of the jars is interesting in view of documentary records testifying that in 1548-50 a group of Castel Durante potters were contracted to supply several hundred vessels to a Genoese merchant resident in Palermo; a similar order from Palermo in 1562 was to the Picchi workshop for four hundred pharmacy jars. While surviving pieces cannot be proved to have formed part of these orders, it is a measure of the success of the Castel Durante industry that it was supplying markets as far afield as Sicily on a large scale. The documentary evidence is that large orders were shared or sub-contracted; if several potteries were making pieces to a single pattern, attribution on the basis of the few surviving marked pieces is decidedly hazardous.

When in Fortnum's collection these two jars were mounted in gilt-metal for use as lamps.

Bibliography: Fortnum 1897, p. 73.

Wilson 1989/2003, no. 22

T. Wilson, “La maiolica a Castel Durante e ad Urbino fra il 1535 e il 1565: alcuni corredi stemmati”, in G.C. Bojani (ed.), I Della Rovere nell’Italia delle corti, Atti del convegno di Urbania 1999, IV, Arte della maiolica (Urbino/Urbania, 2002), pp. 125-65.

cf C. Leonardi and M. Moretti, I Picchi maiolicari da Casteldurante a Roma (Urbania, 2002).

Thornton and Wilson 2009, I, p. 382.


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