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PAIR OF MAIOLICA FLOWER POTS “A MEZZALUNA”, MILAN, 1770 CIRCA
Vasi da fiori Manifattura di Pasquale Rubati

Maiolica flower pot “a mezzaluna”
decorated with
trompe l’oeil
Pasquale Rubati Factory
Milan, 1770 circa

Measures:

Height: 4.7 in
Length: 5 in
Depth:8.7in
Weight: lb 1.76 each

State of conservation:

intact with slight chipping due to use in relief parts

A rare example of a flower pot “a mezzaluna” produced by the manufactory of the refined painter Pasquale Rubati, who opened a factory in Milan in 1756 to compete with Felice Clerici.
The flower pot with a complex, as well as original and practical, shape was used to hold flowers while creating an orderly arrangement. As it could also be leant against the wall, its use went beyond simple table centerpieces, but rather it could also be placed in functional and decorative locations.
The maiolica is decorated with a rocaille relief to adorn the edges. The upper part is perforated in a radial pattern to contain and support the flowers. The mold, indicated in the original inventories as “fioriere a mezzaluna”, was notedly used by the Milanese manufactories of the eighteenth century, as demonstrated by some of the specimens preserved in the Museum of Applied Arts of the Sforzesco Castle in Milan. (See R. Ausenda (edited by), Musei e Gallerie di Milano. Museo d’Arti Applicate. Le ceramiche. Tomo secondo, Milano 2001, p. 425, n. 409 and n. 41.)
The polychrome decoration shows two medallions painted in green with figures of wayfarers, joined together by garlands of minute flowers. The wayfarers and the architectures of the ruin style are placed in a symbolic landscape, painted with brown manganese brushstrokes and shaded with more marked brushstrokes and veiled with the same green background.
The painter freely draws the subject of the planters from the engravings of Callot, Della Bella or Piranesi, reinterpreting it with elegance and with great technical expertise. Such meticulousness, comparable to porcelain painting, especially in the resulting small flowers of the garlands, also allows the attribution of the works to the Pasquale Rubati manufactory. A specimen of a flower pot with a brown landscape is kept in the Museum of Villa Cagnola in Varese. Ausenda R. in AA. VV.  La collezione Cagnola, II, arazzi, sculture, mobili, ceramiche, Busto Arsizio 1999, p. 196 n. 110.
The theme of the wayfarer and of the pilgrimage is one of the most iconographic elements present in eighteenth-century imagery. The taste, generated by the charm of the Arcadian landscape inhabited by shepherds-wandering poets, finds, indeed, wide response precisely in the search for views and emotions that almost always populated the expectations of Grand Tour travelers ever since the seventeenth century.
In ceramic production all this is well evidenced by the success of the almost coeval maIolica of Filippo Comerio in Faenza, whose inventions skillfully sketched in manganese and veiled in emerald green, achieved such a great success at the time, so as to change the name of the material from “green Savy” to “green Comerio”. (See C. Ravanelli Guidotti, La Fabbrica Ferniani. Ceramiche faentine dal barocco all’ecclettismo, Milano 2009, pp. 259-266.)
As well as the illustrious antecedents with “wayfarers and architectures” produced in Pavia by the painters Africa at Pavese manufactories “Imbres” and “Rampini”. (E. Pellizzoni, M. Forni., S. Nepoti, La Maiolica di Pavia tra Seicento e Settecento, Milano 1997)
Or finally, those with “landscapes with ruins and wayfarers” so popular in the shops of Castelli d’Abruzzo. (See, for example, the landscapes of Aurelio Anselmo Grue in F. Filipponi, Aurelio Anselmo Grue, la maiolica del settecento tra Castelli e Atri, Castelli 2015)
Maiolica and porcelain production in the eighteenth century belonged mainly to the great royal families or in any case to the noble families who made the manufacture of ceramic works a source of prestige. In Milan, under Maria Teresa of Austria, the time period witnessed a real opening to new industrialists who, by virtue of the privatizations granted by the government, assumed a real business risk, giving life, albeit not without conflict, to flourishing factories and to production which was among the most elegant and most requested at the moment and which still today remains object of collection.

Bibliopgraphy:

R. Ausenda, a cura di, Musei e Gallerie di Milano. Museo d’Arti Applicate. Le ceramiche. Tomo secondo, Milano 2001, pp. 425, nn. 409 e n. 41.
R. Ausenda, in AA. VV. La collezione Cagnola, II, arazzi, sculture, mobili, ceramiche, Busto Arsizio 1999, p. 196 n. 110.

Cover Photo: Fabrizio Stipari