Passions & Places



Majolica manufacturing is a refined form of arts and crafts, which at times becomes a work of art. This art has very ancient origins in the Marches; a survey carried out in the underground of the Brancaleoni Castle of Piobbico have recently led to finding delicate votive objects made of rudimentary earthenware. These objects were probably made by men who lived during the Superior Paleolithic, nearly 3,000 years ago. The art of creating objects from the earth has been passed on from a generation to another for millennia (remaining limited within the boundaries of the upper Pesaro territory) until it reached its splendour during the Renaissance.

Starting from the mid 16th century ceramic processing reached sublime levels; valuable majolica objects were created in the laborious artisan workshops of Casteldurante (today Urbania), but also of Urbino, Pesaro and other towns in the Metauro area. These objects were much appreciated and sought-after by the major European courts.

The skilful ceramists of Casteldurante applied fine and exclusive decorations (such as the leaf-shaped frieze, also called cerquata, inspired by the Della Rovere coat of arms. Ceramists were also excellent in manufacturing historiated objects, whose decorations narrated a story, usually inspired by Greek myths, the Sacred Scriptures or events that occurred at the courts. These objects were manufactured with the skilful use of precious enamels, which were spread over a white background.

Visitors can admire these beautiful objects in the Civic Museum of Urbania, in the Ducal Palace. The museum contains a large collection of majolica objects manufactured between the 14th and the 18th centuries, along with the cartoons needed to decorate historiated object and the modern creations by Federico Melis. He is a ceramist who has managed to give fresh impetus to the evolution of this precious art.

The ceramic production in the Pesaro area is characterized by the products manufactured by the factory Casali e Callegari which in the 18th century created valuable pieces, decorated with an elegant flower decoration. Many of these objects (displayed along with majolica objects coming from the most famous Renaissance and Baroque factories) are visible in the rooms of the important and large museum of Ceramics of Pesaro. The museum also displays the wonderful raffaellesche, 16th-century works that can be traced back to the figurative repertoire of the Vatican Rooms and produced in the Urbino workshop of the Patanazzi family.

In order to keep such a valuable heritage, the Association “Friends of Ceramics” and the Centre for Ceramics Piccolpasso of Urbania organize many courses, exhibitions and in-depth analyses for enthusiasts and artists, giving a renewed splendour to the arts and crafts of the Marches.

Like their predecessors, maybe the young craftsmen grown up in this cradle for talents will also see their works displayed in the most important European museums. The majolica objects from the Marches are currently on display at the Hermitage Museum of Saint Petersburg, at the Victoria & Albert Museum of London and at the Louvre of Paris. Artists will read appreciation for their works on the part of poets and writers.                    

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