Municipal ceramic collection
The collection is displayed in the Sala della Loggetta and the so-called secret corridor and consists of a selection of objects documenting the history of pottery-making in Gubbio with examples going from archaic majolica to 20th century products. Over the years it has grown thanks to purchases, objects placed in trust and gifts.
Pottery from 14th and 15th centuries
The first exhibits represent the major developments in local majolica between the 14th and 15th centuries. Of particular significance are the examples of archaic majolica dating mostly from the 14th century. The items displayed in the showcase are household objects turned on the wheel, decorated with stylized geometrical, floral or zoomorphic motifs and coloured using copper green or manganese brown on a light background with tin glazing. From the same period are the documents in the archives relating to the incorporation in Gubbio of the Potters Guild.
Other more elaborate fragments of pottery date from the 15th century and comprise torquated handles, pelican-beak jars, long-lipped jugs, pieces of bowls with heraldic decorations, and fragments of objects decorated in zaffer with dark blue reliefs. There are also some monastic bowls with manganese crosses and some late-Gothic fragments featuring Moorish-like decorations in blue and white. The types of decoration found on Gubbio pottery are similar in style to those produced in central parts of Eastern Italy and were clearly influenced by the two major centres of production at that time: Pesaro and Deruta.
Mastro Giorgio Andreoli and Gubbio lustreware
With the introduction of lustre technique in the second half of 15th century, pottery produced in Gubbio was of far superior quality and acquired an international reputation. Unquestionably, the major contributor to this vitally important artistic moment was Mastro Giorgio Andreoli whose workshop started its activity in the 1480s and continued to dominate the ceramics industry in Gubbio and the Duchy of Urbino for more than half a century. His production excelled in historiated majolica typically in the forms of large or small dishes, basins and goblets and these were painted with mythological, religious, allegorical or historical scenes. The examples of Mastro Giorgio’s lustreware are without a doubt the highlight of the Museum’s pottery collection. Among the historiated exhibits there is the dish depicting The Fall Of Phaethon and the one with Picus, Circe and Canente. Another type present in the collection is that of the low-stemmed goblet decorated in relief and known as “coppa abborchiata” (embossed goblet) which was produced in the workshop from 1530 on.
Nineteenth Century ceramics
Among the examples of more modern production, Nineteenth Century Historicism is well represented.
From the first half of the 19th century, under the influence of Romanticism, Italy experienced a ” historical revival” with a nostalgic vision of the past and renewed interest in the styles of previous ages. In Gubbio this movement expressed itself most especially through pottery, which, during the Renaissance, had attained its maximum splendour in the production of lustreware. This interest gave rise both to historical research and technological experimentation. Angelo Fabbri, who was a patriot, an intellectual and an expert chemist, was responsible for rediscovering the technique of metallic glazing. The most productive factories, examples of whose work are on display, were Fabbri & Carrocci, Giovanni Spinaci, Antonio Passalboni and Giuseppe Magni.
Lungo il corridoio segreto sono esposti manufatti di provenienza non eugubina ascrivibili ad altri centri di antica tradizione ceramica, sia italiani (Urbania, Venezia, Castelli d’Abruzzo, Deruta) che tedeschi (Kunersberg), cinesi e giapponesi.
Collezione Aldo Ajò
Along the secret corridor are exhibited objects which were not made in Gubbio but come from other traditional centres of pottery-making, whether in Italy, (Urbania, Venice, Castelli d’Abruzzo,Deruta) or such places as Germany, China and Japan.
The final section of the Museum’s ceramics collection is an exhibition of the works produced for the first editions of the Gubbio Sculpture Biennale and, in particular, the works of Aldo Ajò, the pre-eminent exponent of the contemporary tradition. His workshop produced objects of everyday use, decorated vases and dishes, but also large-scale panels which are a kind of compromise between his vocations as painter and ceramist. The exhibits on show trace the course of his artistic development from the 1940s on.
The pharmaceutical jars constitute an important part of the collection if only because of their number. They were donated to the Museum by the “Ente Ospedaliero” of Gubbio. Since the Middle Age, together with glass, pottery has been the preferred material for conserving herbs, drugs and the various ingredients used in the preparation of medicines, as it is both practical to use and easy to clean. From the middle of the 15th century it became usual to write on the pot the name of the substance it would contain or to leave the cartouche blank so that a paper label could be attached.
The oldest part of the collection consists mainly of bottles for containing liquid medicines (rounded jars with cylindrical necks and small tubular spouts), and a series of apothecary jars (cylindrical majolica jars with a narrow waist and low neck used to contain denser or oily preparations or herbs). The remaining exhibits are examples of crucibles and steam domes for stills used in distillation.