shaped dish with a small brim with disc foot base; recomposed from
fragments and integrated in form and decoration. Overall glazing
extending to the back.
atypically shaped bowl has a poppy flower motif on the border, similar
to the one described above, and has a geometric pattern, made up of a
series of interlacing threads, painted inside.
main theme of the composition is the ‘knot’ motif, the same pattern
which has been found in Italian art and decoration from the end of the
15th century (Bojani et alii n.d., p. 98, fig. 6), and which
should be related to a symbolic motif of earlier Oriental matrix.
kind of ‘knot’ decoration can, in fact, be found on the beams and
bronzes resonant in Buddhist temples, especially on small pieces, and
represents, through the constant intertwining of patterns, the idea of
the infinite life of the soul moving from one body to another before its
‘knot’ was one of the iconographic symbols of East Armenian religions,
especially after its original meaning had been purged.
Painters in Montelupo did not perceive the original meaning, as they
unheedingly put knots on the recurring shapes in a rhomboid cut on
crosses. From this symbiosis a sort of lozenge appears with a rounded
top (an ‘eye of the button’ at the top). Subsequently, the lozenge has
been cut at the sides into segments, with some graphic curving
connecting to the two ‘holes’. The parts shaping the ‘intertwining’
(often highly embellished) are usually connected to four of these
elements and form a kind of cross shape, as in the bowl from the “pozzo
dei lavatoi” (cf. Rackham-Mallet 1977, vol. 2, p. 32, no. 359) The
earlier version of the Oriental ‘knot’ pattern, greatly differs in this
example from the cursive and simplified decorations found in products
from the Montelupo area made around the middle of the 16th century. This
later pattern not only has a tighter, and more intertwined, knot as well
as a more complex structure, but is inside by the means of scratching (“graffitura”)
on the glaze. In earlier products, this ‘knot’ was wider and sometimes
the pattern covered the whole surface of the maiolica. (Berti 1998, p.
151 and p. 311, tables 161-63; Berti 1986, pp. 88-90, fig. 36-38).
relationship between a porcelain band in the traditional Oriental style
centred on the poppy flower, and the intertwining of the Oriental ‘knot’
shows how these patterns were considered similar, and probably adapted,
in compositions coloured in monochrome cobalt blue, which deliberately
imitated the porcelain genre. No example, however, has yet been found to
confirm a similar ensemble of motifs in Asian ceramics, even in the
enamelled and “ingobbiate” forms which, in turn, imitated Chinese
making of this dish, can probably be attributed to the workshop of
Lorenzo di Piero di Lorenzo, seeing that the best maiolica with
scratched intertwining from the “pozzo dei lavatoi” carried his kiln
mark (cf. Berti 1998, p. 311, tables 161-162). The specialisation of
this craftsman in the production in “porcellana” technique is evinced by
the fact that he made a supply with this type of decoration for Clarice
Medici Strozzi in 1518 (Spallanzani 1984).