chronological and social-economic questions discussed up to now, for
various reasons, date this quality revolution in the Florentine
production to the end of the 14th century. Yet, the reading of this
issue is incomplete if another fundamental question were to remain
unexamined. The relationship with Spain indicated, if not the start of a
movement, at least the influence of its imitations.
Although the historical and archaeological investigations of examples
relative to the Spanish production are constantly being updated, these
conclusions have thrown light on a few of the fundamental features of
Spanish maiolica in circulation in Italy. This trend provoked an
understandable reaction in our craftsmen.
relationship between Italy and the Western Mediterranean (Provence,
Catalonia, the Spanish Levant) was thought to be more extensive at the
time of “archaic maiolica”, owing to the breakthrough of the chromatic
glazes in ceramics. The same cannot be said for the final years of the
14th century and the beginning of the following century.
onset of exportation became more consistent and decisive of a metal
lustre maiolica from the Valencia region towards the East and dates to
the twenty year period at the end of the 14th century, as documented by
numerous important findings. This coincides chronologically with the
beginning of quality renewal of maiolica, and the moment when both these
evolutions continued parallel on the same path. While, in fact, the
progress of Levant lustre ceramics, especially from the furnaces in
Manises, became more significant, their diffusion in Italy influenced
the ceramic centres along the Tyhrrenian coast.
surprisingly the years around 1400- 1480 demonstrate the extraordinary
use of Moorish-Hispanic morphology and decorative methods used in the
Manises- Valencia areas and which were adopted by the Florentines at the
same time. This was not a par chance event but an answer to the quality
research Italian craftsmen were undertaking towards the end of the 14th
century. As imports from Spain increased without restriction, the
Iberian style decoration became the formal element Florentine
vase-makers applied to their genre, ever more frequently.
faithfully copied the pharmacy jars (“alberello”) and for the regional
markets even made a cut-edged bowl — a real guide line of the 15th
century- imitating the Spanish lustre decorated shape. The same metallic
lustre method was object of great interest during the first half of the
15th century, probably even up to the 70s, inasmuch as the secret of the
glazing technique was unknown and “spies” were employed by the
Florentine merchants, as a Montelupese source reveals.
Through these products scholars can see the ‘joint forces’ leading to
the higher quality level of maiolica reached in the Florentine area. On
one hand the socialeconomic aspect of the period 1350- 1420 which
determined a great demand to modernise clay production in order to
satisfy the refined tastes of the time, fostering in this way the
technological updating; on the other, the example represented by the
growing circulation of enamelled genre from the Spanish Levant
characterised by new innovations, encouraged Italian craftsmen to follow
this same path.
explain this phenomenon, complex historical factors must be borne in
mind and these are obviously of relevance to the development of ceramic
art. These historical conditions determined the new social-economic
situation; such changes evidently influenced Florentine craftsmen, who,
nonetheless, did not abandon or neglect their traditional canons.