Monday, December 16, 2013

Maiolica is Italian tin-glazed pottery dating from the Renaissance. It is decorated in bright colours on a white background, frequently depicting historical and legendary scenes. The name is thought to come from the medieval Italian word for Majorca, an island on the route for ships bringing Hispano-Moresque wares from Valencia to Italy. Moorish potters from Majorca are reputed to have worked in Sicily and it has been suggested that their wares reached the Italian mainland from Caltagirone. An alternative explanation of the name is that it comes from the Spanish term obra de Malaga, denoting “[imported] wares from Malaga”. or obra de mélequa, the Spanish name for lustre. In the 15th century, the term maiolica referred solely to lusterware, including both Italian-made and Spanish imports, and tin-glaze wares were known as bianchi (white ware). Eventually the term came to be used when describing ceramics made in Italy, lustred or not, of tin-glazed earthenware. With the Spanish conquest of Mexico, tin-glazed maiolica wares came to be produced in the Valley of Mexico as early as 1540, at first in imitation of tin-glazed pottery imported from Seville. Mexican maiolica is known famously as 'Talavera'.