The tin-glazed earthenware known as majolica (or maiolica) was first produced in Italy in the mid-14th century. Beautiful and colorful, it has always been prized as a decoration that never fades or loses its beauty. By the 16th century, majolica painters were imitating famous frescos and oil paintings depicting scenes from classical history, the Bible and mythology. When the Golden House of Nero in Rome was rediscovered, the elaborate, whimsical motifs found on its underground chambers were also used as subject matters. These designs were called grottesche (grotesques).
Over the centuries the demand for majolica has had its ups and downs. By the 17th century it was in decline, and the styles based on Renaissance motifs were replaced by those that were then in fashion. By the 18th century, majolica faced greater competition from French and German faience, Asian and European porcelain, and English creamware. By the 1850s only a handful of Italian majolica workshops were still in existence, but by the end of the 19th century a movement was started to re-establish the ware’s designs and production. This large vase, one of a pair I am offering separately, is a product of this movement.
The painting of the images is in the classical style of mixing deities and animals. The main scene seems to be depicting a celebration of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, with one figure holding up a bunch of grapes, with others of his followers trying to get the party going if only they can get their transportation up to speed.
On the other side of this ovoid-shaped vase is a large villa, the type that California wineries attempt to emulate. It is placed in the middle of a country landscape with trees, leaves, and rocks and billowing clouds above. As is the case with traditional Italian majolica pottery, the scenes wrap all around the vase continuously.
The handles are comprised of two delightful and friendly-looking lion heads, very much in the faience style. The rolled rim is decorated with just large blue drops.
It is in excellent condition. This vase matches its pair elsewhere in my shop. While the Italian villas are depicted differently on each, the scenes of the figures and the stubborn goat face one another. (On this vase the figures face right.)
It measures 11-1/8 inches high, 7 inches in diameter at the top and about 11 inches wide from lion nose to lion nose.