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Maiolica flower pot “a mezzaluna” decorated with tulip

Vaso da fiori a mezzaluna di maiolica con tulipano
MAIOLICA and porcelain

Maiolica flower pot “a mezzaluna” decorated with tulip
Pasquale Rubati Factory
Milan, 1770 circa

It measures:
4.7 in x 4.7 in x 8.6 in
12 cm x 12 cm x 22 cm
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 pot is decorated with rocaille motifs and commas in relief to adorn the edges. The upper part is perforated in a radial pattern to contain and support the flowers. The flower pot is published as a Lodi work of the Ferretti manufacture, formerly in the Costantino Sterlocchi collection (S. Levy, Ceramiche settecentesche, Milano 1962, Tav 214 A). The mold, indicated in the original inventories as “fioriere a mezzaluna”, was later recognised as being in use in 18th century Milanese manufactories, as demonstrated by some of the specimens preserved in the Museum of Applied Arts of the Castello Sforzesco in Milan. For comparisons see R. Ausenda (edited by), Musei e Gallerie di Milano. Museo d’Arti Applicate. Le ceramiche. Tomo secondo, Milan 2001, p. 425, nos. 409 and 410; Ausenda R. et al. La collezione Cagnola, II, arazzi, sculture, mobili ceramiche, Busto Arsizio 1999, p. 197 n. 114.)

The polychrome decoration shows a raised edge with long comma shapes painted in blue, yellow and purple. These are repeated along the upper edge to create unity with the rocaille motifs which are painted in emerald green with touches of yellow and with the artfully measured purple brush strokes which emphasize the sculptural effects.
On the front of the flower pot there is a group of flowers slightly to the right of center with a large tulip, with an open and curled petal, two rosebuds and smaller minor florets painted quickly and subtly contoured in manganese.
On the upper part an unusual set of polychrome small semis (scattered little flowers) complete the decoration by framing the perforations used to arrange the flowers.

A maiolica flower pot with a motif off-center on the right, but with another minor bouquet of flowers on the left is published in Gregorietti G., Maioliche di Lodi, Milano e Pavia, catalogo della mostra Museo Poldi Pezzoli Milano 1964, n. 371.
The extensive use of purple (gold chloride) in the floral composition confirms the much sought-after use of this kind of object.

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.


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