The Museo Nazionale del Bargello presents an exhibition dedicated to Renaissance “istoriata” maiolica, the tin-glazed earthenware featuring narrative scenes and/or figurative subjects, which dates from this period, and its direct dependency on literary, historical and figurative sources.
The Italian ceramic workshops were animated by a great and constant desire to acquire and incorporate figurative models of certain attraction in their repertories, drawing inspiration from medals, plaques, drawings, small bronzes and engravings.
From the Italian ceramic workshops, and especially from the early XVI century, the Italian maiolica master-painters began to develop an increasingly more attentive assimilation of pictorial themes, incorporating them into their own works. They began to ‘transcribe’ the xylographs illustrating the printed editions of literary texts, such as the Old and the New Testaments, the Metamorphoses by Ovid, and the History of Rome by Livy; or they would compose loose sheets, especially Marcantonio Raimondi and his circle, who diffused the Raphaelesque ‘proofs’ and compositions by the greatest Italian painters among the ceramic workshops.
For the entire XVI century, these models therefore represented iconographic vehicles and the cultural supports of reference, given that thanks to their rapid circulation, they constituted the primary itinerant documents of a culture that was produced, matured and invoked by a growing and more cultured clientele.