The History of Ceramics in Faenza

Italian Handmade ceramic decoration from Faenza

With a longstanding history and a rich heritage, Faenza in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, is well known for ceramics. More specifically, ceramics with beautiful bright colours and precise details. Almost all of us have ceramics in our homes, but have you ever thought about the history behind the pieces that you love and cherish? Read on to find out all about the history of ceramics from Faenza…

21st Century Ceramics in Faenza…

Today there is an entire world based around ceramics in Faenza. From museums and a renowned school, to events, workshops and studios, ceramics are at the heart of the city. At this very point in time, there is an exhibition taking place all about the work of Gio Ponti, the Italian architect and designer.

Gio Ponti exhibition in Faenza.

Gio Ponti. Ceramics 1922-1967

Well-known for his work in ceramics, in the 1920s he became an artistic director at Richard Ginori, a brand famous for its ceramics that is still popular to this day.

iconic ceramic object designed by Gio Ponti the famous italian architect and designer

iconic gio ponti ceramics

The History of Ceramics in Faenza…

The start of the connection with ceramics in Faenza is linked to the huge amounts of clay soil found close to the Lamone River and the location of the city. Faenza was regularly passed through by people travelling along the Via Emilia and by those coming from Tuscany. This high footfall presented a great opportunity for artists to sell their work to passing tourists, and it is this combination of the access to clay soil and the high footfall that began the connection with ceramics.

The first ceramic workshops in Faenza can be dated back to the first centuries after the year of 1000 AD. Very quickly, the city became known as a centre for ceramics. During this mediaeval period, the ceramics products in Faenza were simple and mostly used for domestic purposes.

aticque ceramic vase with hand-painted mythological scenesOver time, the pieces were refined, becoming more detailed and decorative. By the end of the fifteenth century, the ceramics produced in Faenza were adorned with a peacock feather eyes motif and also depicted human figures as well as biblical and mythological scenes.

In the second half of the sixteenth century, Faenza’s reputation as the capital of ceramics had grown. During this time, what is known as ‘Faenza white’ was developed, and the ceramics produced became less colourful and instead focused on simplicity in shades of white.

Iconic Motifs…

One of the most famous styles of ceramics from Faenza is the Carnation design. This is a classic style that focuses on the Garofano – a carnation flower. This first appeared in Faenza in the 18th century and is now considered the most famous Faenza style. It features colourful decorations on blue enamel and represents an eastern garden. Highly detailed, Carnation ceramics are very sought after.

Hand-painted ceramics from Faenza on display featuring the iconic Garofano motif

The other very well-known style from Faenza is the Peacock style. With vivid colours of maiolica, this eastern-inspired decoration features a repeat pattern of the ‘eye’ of the feathers of a peacock. It first appeared in Faenza at the end of the 15th century. According to local legend, it is linked to a love story between Cassandra Pavoni and Astorgio Manfredi of the Faenza Lordship.

peacock motif hand-painted on majolica plate, vase and object by italian ceramists in Faenza

The Importance of Ceramic Places in Faenza…

Across Faenza there are countless workshops and there’s an endless list of places where you can see ceramics made in the city.

MIC ceramic museum in Faenza

Credit: MIC Faenza

One of the standout places to visit in the city is the International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza, also known as MIC. This museum is considered one of the most important ceramic art museums in the world and has been called a ‘testament to a Culture of Peace’ by UNESCO.

Another museum in the city is the Carlo Zauli Museum, which is dedicated to the work of the famous ceramist from Faenza.

Credit: Museo Carlo Zauli

Carlo Zauli is considered one of the most important sculptural ceramists of the 20th century. Along with a collection of his work, here you can also attend ceramics workshops and art therapy classes.

The Faenza Art Ceramic Center…

Another fantastic place dedicated to the ceramics of Faenza is the Faenza Art Ceramic Center. Offering a wide range of activities centred around ceramics, here you will find workshops, ceramic competitions, technical support, events, exhibitions and information about research and development of new products.

Ceramic sculptures displayed in Faenza at the Art ceramic Centre

Credit: Faenza Art Ceramic Center

Our Favourite Ceramists in Faenza…

As we are from the same region, we have been surrounded by beautiful ceramics all our lives and have come to know many of the ceramic styles and ceramists in Faenza well. Each Ceramist has their own unique style, some of which are classic, and some more modern. Our favourites include…

Maestri Maiolicari

Italian handmade ceramic jug inspired by the medieval ones

Italian handmade ceramic figurine

Credit: Maestri Maiolicari Faentini

Ceramica Gatti 1928

Italian handmade ceramic candle stick holders by Ceramica Gatti

Credit: Ceramica Gatti 1928

Bottega Vignoli

Handmade ceramic vase with painted sardine design

Credit: Bottega Vignoli

Elvira Keller

Handmade Italian ceramic objet

Credit: Elvira Keller

La vecchia Faenza

Italian ceramist decorating by hand a large platterCredit: La Vecchia Faenza

FOS Ceramiche

Italian Handmade porcelain bowl laid on o crystal table

Credit: Fos Ceramiche

Ceramics continue to be celebrated in Faenza, and it is wonderful to see what an integral part of the cities culture and heritage ceramics have become.

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