The dish is rare example of a service produced by the factory of Felice Clerici (1710-1780) in Milan.
Felice Clerici had opened his own factory in Milan in 1745, inserting himself into the new European stylistic trend which saw maiolica becoming a fine product like porcelain. The Milanese entrepreneur worked in the early period with high fire furnaces, declaring only in 1759 that he had purchased “the secrets of the paintings by force of money,” by which he meant he now could obtain colors with a greater chromatic range with a low fire.
The dish belonged to a particularly refined assortment, which, thanks to the lightly blue glaze and the skilful use of the palette, ought to give the impression of resembling completely the contemporary Chinese works.
The plate is a fund with an especially thin thickness, smooth edge and a barely detectable ring foot. Along the edge there is a thin orange and gold band with a chain of small spirals whereas along the brim there is a typical oriental decoration with peonies and chrysanthemums and minor florets. The flounce hosts a motif “in reserves” centered inside alternating flower and trellis motifs on pink and green backgrounds; among the other elements some flowers made in gold stand out. In the center an oriental floral ornament is developed around a sturdy branch. On the back the “fraction” brand by Felice Clerici in black.
Raffella Ausenda, while cataloging a maiolica in the same model as ours, conserved in the collections of the Museo di Arti Applicate del Castello in Milan (to which we refer for comparison), highlights that the ornamentation is directly inspired by Chinese porcelain from the Kang’hsi period known as “Famille Rose”. The Clerici manufacture had in fact such a technical command of colors that it could perfectly imitate the oriental models even thanks to the aid of painters such as Giuseppe Sormani and Giacomo Facchetti who “painted with enamel in gold and silver colors. They imitate and accompany porcelain”.
The recent publication, edited by the same scholar (R. Ausenda in J.V.G. Mallet and E.P. Sani, a cura di, Maiolica in Italy and Beyond. pp. 124-140), underlines how the rebirth of maiolica in northern Italy also sprang from the experiences of the Milanese factory of Pasquale Rubati. This factory, established in 1756, obtained very high quality products, even considered among the best of the time. In the study she remarks how the pieces produced in the factory so closely matched Chinese porcelain that they were often used to replace pieces needing substitution, as Rubati himself declares “… to be able to accompany the missing pieces of porcelain with maiolica without distinguishing one on the other hand, except transparency. ” (R. Ausenda in J.V.G. Mallet and E.P. Sani, a cura di, Maiolica in Italy and Beyond,. pp. 124 140)
Many examples for comparison are kept in the main European museum collections including a famous tureen that bears the coat of arms of the Marquis Don Giovanni Olivera. This leads us to a certain chronological collocation of 1771, the year the emblem was registered in the Teresian heraldic codes. (Ausenda, R., a cura di, Musei e Gallerie di Milano. Museo d’Arti Applicate. Le ceramiche. Tomo secondo. Milano 2001, pp. 349, n. 335 and related bibliography). The tureen is kept in the Kunst und Gewerbe Museum in Hamburg (inv. 1882.276).
From the same De Olivera service comes a dish which was purchased from our gallery by MUDEC (Museum of Cultures of Milan) and which is currently exhibited as a work in the permanent collections of the exhibition Milano globale, il Mondo visto da qui (Global Milan, the World Seen from Here).
Cover Photo: Fabrizio Stipari
R. Ausenda, a cura di, Musei e Gallerie di Milano. Museo d’Arti Applicate. Le ceramiche. Tomo secondo. Milano 2001, pp. 349, n. 335 e bibliografia relativa.
R. Ausenda, Hig-quality Maiolica in the Style of Porcellain: Experiments in northern Italian Maiolica in its productive final Years in J.V.G. Mallet and E.P. Sani, a cura di, Maiolica in Italy and Beyond,. pp. 124 140
R. Ausenda in, Milano globale, il Mondo visto da qui, sala 2, La nuova dimensione globale del continente asiatico, pp. 194-195.