extensive glaze covering during the production process caused a loss in
the vitrification, but nonetheless represented a remarkable development
not only for other centres but also for the Florentine ceramic kilns.
This is more significant when compared to the “modern” style of the
“luxury” tendencies growing at the end of the 14th century.
While the typologies of copper and manganese adopted, although
chromatically and iconographically updated, during the long period of
traditional “archaic maiolica”, internal vitrification or even the “no
glaze” methods were not abandoned. Instead the new styles were totally
glazed from the beginning, except for rare examples not involving the
whitish biscuit types. Because of the richness of their aspect,
especially on closed forms, in particular “boccali”, they became quite
Archaeological findings in the Montelupo area from the period between
the 13th and 14th centuries, gave light to fragments of “boccali” with a
whitish clay base covered by a dense and creamy glaze which the vase
maker used freely to cover both the inside and outside.
The product is so beautiful that decorative painting was unnecessary, as
can be seen in the famous “bianchi” (whites) from Faenza almost two
An extraordinary revolution took place in the Florentine area during the
last twenty years of the 14th century regarding pigmentation and blue
cobalt, which after having been adopted for vase painting was more
extensively and elaborately used, and came to characterise Florentine
production in the first thirty years of the 15th century.
by chance, therefore, the first traces of a scant use of blue (obtained
by the use of copper oxide) for colouring the ceramic supports were
already found on the background of the statues of Virtue, dated from the
beginning of the 1440s, and set into the bell tower of Santa Maria del
Fiore in Florence. After about thirty years the blue was then exploited
by craftsmen to vary the chromatic aspect of “archaic maiolica”. It
should, thus, be noted that this type of production — rightly called
“archaic blue maiolica” — had all the decorative innovations mentioned
above, in copper and manganese and particularly the whitish “bistugio”
base and the overall glazing.
ceramists in Florence rapidly learnt and adopted the technique of using
cobalt oxide to colour the glaze to a wonderful intense blue,
incomparable to the lighter blue of earlier enamelled pottery, and even
to the same “archaic blue maiolica”. The idea came, through this use of
cobalt, to introduce iron oxide to the blue pigment and not only did
this dilate on the glazed surface, thus creating a ‘raised’ effect to
the decoration and also gave it an intense shine similar to lapislazuli.
though the other centres of production both in Tuscany and in the rest
of Italy decorated maiolica in relief by using this technique, its
diffusion and application in the Florentine area, together with the
other new techniques, made “zaffera” decorations a decisive chapter in
the quality evolution of enamelled ceramics, and found no equal in other
centres of production in Italy.